Istanbul has long been thought of as the perfect blend of Europe and Asia; in fact, it is where Europe and Asia meet. Istanbul is an ethnic, yet familiar experience; it is exotic enough to be different, yet comforting enough for ease of travel. The people are friendly, the architecture is magnificent and the food is divine. So take a gander at some of the must-sees in Istanbul that make it one of the most intoxicating cities in the world. Get a taste for it in 24 hours, but it is a guarantee you will be back!
5. Marvel at the Hagia Sofia
First a basilica, then a mosque, and now a museum, the Hagia Sofia, built in the early 6th century, is one of the most historically important monuments in Istanbul (although every monument in Istanbul is important). The inside is filled with striking mosaics; the main area, famous for its impressive dome and gold mosaics, are so eye catching most people are reluctant to leave. Since being converted into a museum, the upstairs houses many galleries where you could spend the day wandering and learning Istanbul’s history.
4. Lose Yourself in the Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar: and overwhelming assault on all your senses. Step into this cultural mecca to experience such vibrant colors and smells that the rest of the world will after seem mundane. You could easily spend weeks wandering the heart of the old city; it is chaotic and crazy, yet not at all overwhelming. Wander the alleyways to watch local artisans at work, wander the back streets to discover some of the hidden hotspots and try not to get lost wandering this grand, historic labyrinth. There are obvious tourist spots, but explore off the path a bit and you will unearth a complete different and intoxicating way of life.
3. Rejuvenate at the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamami
Those of you who are looking for a true Ottoman experience should schedule some time for a traditional Hammam; if you want to augment your experience even further, head to the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamami, built exclusively for Roxelana , the wife of Suleiman the Magnificent. It is extravagant and relaxing, interesting yet strange, and is the best way to experience an Ottoman tradition still present today.
2. Tour Around the Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is the landmark that comes to mind when thinking about Istanbul; upon first glance it is easy to see why it is the most photographed building in the city! The exterior is easily recgonized for its dome-like structure, and the blue tiles adorning the walls inside are what have given the mosque its commonly used name. The outside of the building is the most stunning part of the landmark; the building is perfectly proportional and the vibrancy of walls is truly spectacular. Although the inside is remarkable and grand, to truly appreciate the grandeur of this building, approach it first through the courtyard (the largest of any Ottoman mosque) and you will get the most breathtaking view.
1. Take in the Istanbul Skyline
The Istanbul skyline is perhaps the most impressive of any majestic skyline; a look across the Bosporus strait offers an expansive view of Istanbul unrivaled anywhere else. To get the most out of the skyline, opt for a sunset ferry ride; as you maneuver around the boats, stand in awe as the sky ignites and the buildings turn black- a great end to a day in Istanbul.