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Top 5 places To See in Istanbul

 

After a long flight from Bangkok to Moscow and Moscow to Istanbul, we finally arrived in Turkey ready for our two full days of touring in Istanbul.

 

We were picked up at 8:30 sharp for our tour with Alaturka Tours and were taken to quite a few tourist sites. We visited several places, but we thought we would narrow it down to our 5 favourites.

Here are our top 5 places to see in Istanbul in no particular order.

 

THE BLUE MOSQUE
Also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque, The Blue Mosque was built from 1609 to 1616. It is still popularly used as a mosque, but visitors are allowed inside.

Top 5 places to see in Istanbul

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque aka The Blue Mosque

The interior is lined with more than 20,000 hand made ceramic tiles in more than fifty different tulip designs.

The upper levels of the interior are predominately blue (hence the name), and more than 200 stained glass windows with intricate designs let the beautiful natural light shine through.

Top 5 places to see in Istanbul

Sooooooo much detail and incredibly beautiful

The floors are covered with carpets donated by congregants and are regularly replaced as they wear out. It was a perfect place to relax and marvel at the grandeur of this incredible building.

 

HAGIA SOPHIA
“Holy Wisdom”; is a former Greek Orthodox basilica and then later an imperial mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

It was under renovation while we were there but that didn’t take away from the beauty of Hagia Sophia.

Top 5 places to see in Istanbul

The inside of Hagia Sophia

From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire.

Top 5 places to see in Istanbul

The impressive dome of Hagia Sophia

The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum.

 

THE GRAND BAZAAR
One of the oldest and largest markets in the world, with a whopping 4,000+ stalls.

Top 5 places to see in Istanbul

4,000+ stalls?? Where do you begin??

You really can spend a whole day there finding the best deals on hookah pipe’s, jewellery, tacky souvenirs, carpets, and gorgeous lamps. Who doesn’t like shopping?

While you’re at it, do not miss the fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. It just might change your life. Or make your day.

Top 5 places to see in Istanbul

“Are you looking for carpet? I can give you a great deal”

 

BOSPHORUS CRUISE
This cruise shows you the waterways between two continents; Europe, and Asia.

You get beautiful views of past and present; simple beauty, opulent indulgence, and everything in between. We sat and relaxed on our cruise soaking in the warm sun.

Top 5 places to see in Istanbul

Bosphorus Bridge, one of the world’s largest suspension bridges, links Europe and Asia

 

THE SPICE BAZAAR
The spice bazaar was one of the highlights of the tour for us, as we love to eat and I love to cook!

I picked up some vanilla bean, saffron, and zaatar for a great price! If you have yet to try zaatar, you must! It is a condiment/spice mixture of dried oregano, sesame seeds, basil, thyme, and salt.

It is delicious rubbed on pizza dough, or just drizzle some olive oil onto it and dip with pita bread.

Don’t be afraid to bargain at the bazaar, but be fair.

Top 5 places to see in Istanbul

One of our favourite places in Istanbul

 

Whether you have a week or a month in Turkey, we highly recommend taking a tour or two in Istanbul as there is a lot to see and it is quite spread out through the city.

You can check out our full tour itineraries below:

http://www.alaturkaturkey.com/index.php?view=istanbul-sightseeing-tour
http://www.alaturkaturkey.com/index.php?view=bosphorus-and-two-continents-tour

Comments To This Entry.
  1. Franca March 17, 2014 Reply

    I think the Spice Bazaar would have been my favourite place for sure. I love the colours of the spices and the smells especially must have been divine! 🙂

    • Giselle and Cody March 17, 2014 Reply

      The colours are beautiful aren’t they? It’s fantastic being able to find fresh vanilla bean that doesn’t cost your first born 😉

  2. Lauren March 19, 2014 Reply

    I would LOVE to attend the spice bazaar. That sounds amazing!! I love to cook and buy different spices!

    • Giselle and Cody March 22, 2014 Reply

      We love cooking too, but we especially love eating! It’s such a nice place to take your time in, and pick out spices 🙂

  3. Ahmed March 20, 2014 Reply

    welcome to my beautiful country! i hope you are enjoying it as you like.
    istanbul has many things to offer and you should enjoy all of it.

  4. Lucia April 1, 2014 Reply

    looks like an awesome country to visit and explore….GREAT pictures
    very colourful and alive!! lucia

  5. Steve April 7, 2014 Reply

    i love istanbul! but i didn’t love the spice market… too touristic, and to be honest not all that different from the grand bazaar. did you get over to the asian side of the city?

    • Giselle and Cody April 8, 2014 Reply

      Steve, yeah we did make it over to the Asian side but still have a little bit more exploring to do.
      We head back on the 12th and we will have 4 days in Istanbul before heading to Israel. Anything you would recommend?

  6. Chad Metz April 7, 2014 Reply

    I have been to Istanbul and thought it was a great city to explore.
    I would go to the Blue Mosque to escape the noise of the city.
    How long were you there for?

    • Giselle and Cody April 8, 2014 Reply

      Chad, we were in Istanbul for about 5-6 days and in Turkey for 3 weeks.
      Currently we are in Tbilisi, Georgia but we head back to Istanbul on the 12th.
      The Blue Mosque is a perfect place to escape the craziness of Istanbul. 🙂

  7. Dimmak April 8, 2014 Reply

    There is one place on my top 5 list: The Basilica Cistern. I was literally going for the bus in 1 hour but I managed to pin it. It is like an underground catacomb..

  8. Paul Scoropan April 11, 2014 Reply

    I think the best atraction in Istambul is Hagia Sofia. Very much history!

    • Giselle and Cody April 11, 2014 Reply

      Hey Paul,

      Yes Hagia Sofia definitely has a lot of history. We enjoyed ourselves while we were there.

  9. Andrew April 18, 2014 Reply

    Did you miss the cistern? theres an amazing underground place called the basilica cistern. Hard to describe heres the website – http://yerebatan.com/

    istanbul is a wonderful city, I loved it! but the flying must have been murder from bangkok VIA Moscow? Hope it was half the direct price. great reading thanks for sharing!

    • Giselle and Cody April 18, 2014 Reply

      Hey Andrew, we did do the Cistern as well. 🙂
      We are loving Istanbul and the rest of Turkey as well. Such a fun country to explore.
      Thanks so much for the comment. PS-the flight from Bangkok wasn’t that bad 🙂

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