Istanbul is just one of those places that quickly stole my heart and I can’t wait to go to again. It’s a city full of culture, kind-hearted people and stunning architecture. Don’t even get me started on the tea! So delicious, I wish I was drinking some right now.
Here is a travel guide for Istanbul and since pictures don’t do it justice, I’ve also created a video showing you my favourite things to do in Istanbul.
Things to do in Istanbul
1. Visit the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque)
This iconic mosque build in the 1600’s is definitely a must see. My favourite part of visiting the Blue Mosque was going there during the call to prayer and feeling the sense of calm in the air. Don’t forget to visit it at night as well as it looks gorgeous when it’s all lit up.
2. Visit the Hagia Sofia ( Ἁγία Σοφία – Sancta Sophia – Ayasofya)
As a bit of a history nerd, I found the Hagia Sofia to be fascinating. It’s name means “Holy Wisdom” and was originally built as a Cathedral in the 6th century but was later conquered and turned into a Mosque but now it is a museum. As you walk through, you’ll clearly be able to see elements of Christianity and Islam that have been preserved. Both the architecture and the detail on the inside is stunning.
3. Play with the cats!
If you love cats, then it is the place for you! You literally can’t go anywhere in Istanbul without seeing these furry guys roaming around the inner street and sleeping in the most unusual places, check out my video and see for yourself!
4. Eat a Simit, try Turkish Delights and drink lots of Turkish Black Tea
Ohh where do I even begin. Simits, Turkish Delights and tea pretty much became the only food groups I ate during my time in Istanbul. If a pretzel and a bagel had a baby, that’s what a simit would be, they are so good and can be found everywhere for less than 50 cents! And if you’re looking for delicious Turkish Delights, my personal fave are the ones from Hafiz Mustafa. Nom nom nom!
5. People watch by the Galata Tower
Hands down my favourite place in Istanbul! The Galata Tower is a beautiful medieval stone tower located in the centre of several quant street which makes it perfect for people watching after a day of sightseeing. So, grab yourself a simit and cai (tea in Turkish) and head over there!
6. Street Art
You may not know this, but Istanbul has some of the most unique and awesome street art I’ve ever seen. Around every corner you can find walls and walls filled with beautiful paintings. My personal favourite are the rainbow stairs where I spend a lot of time taking shots for Instagram (no shame).
7. Indulge in a Turkish Bath (Hamman)
This is definitely an experience, if you’ve ever wanted to feel like the bottom of a baby’s butt then this is where you need to go. You will be exfoliated, rubbed and foamed up like never before. Don’t expect a Turkish Bath to be your typical relaxing day at the spa, but just have fun with it. It’s all part of the culture!
8. Shop at the Grand Baazar in Istanbul, Turkey (Kapalıçarşı – Büyük Çarşı)
Oh yes, the famous Grand Baazar is a must! This famous market cover 61 streets and offers over 4000 shops. You’ll be able to find everything from beautiful handcrafted pieces to spices. When you go make sure to bargain or check a few shops before making your purchase
9. Stay at Hotel Ibrahim Pasha
Josh and I had the pleasure of staying at the Hotel Ibrahim Pasha, a gorgeous boutique hotel in the centre of all the major attractions. The staff at the hotel were extremely welcoming and gave us great tips on what to do during our stay. Not to mention, it has the most epic rooftop with the view of the Blue Mosque. You can check their availability here.
Have you been to Istanbul? What was your favourite place? Share below!