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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: