Recently I visited Istanbul and I wanted to share some pictures from the trip. This was a long time coming – I took my sweet time sorting out the holiday photos! Later on I’ll also share posts about our even more recent Barcelona trip.
I’m a huge fan of budget traveling – as a student I can’t afford to use huge sums for travel so I’m very careful while picking my fights, destinations, and accommodation. Originally we were supposed to go to Prague but three days there would’ve cost us as much as five days in Istanbul. So we chose Istanbul. It had been on our minds a little bit before: I had been there several years ago and absolutely loved it and the boyfriend seemed to like the idea too.
We got a cheap room from Hotel Evsen, which had a lovely staff and was located only 500 m from all the major tourist attractions in an area called Sultanahmet. So it was the perfect location for us (saved a lot of money too because we never had to take any transportation – we just walked everywhere). The weather was a nice +23 C which was not too hot for walking around town but not so cold that you’d need more than a tank top. The atmosphere is so lovely in Istanbul and my favorite times were after the sun had gone down and they lit up all the sights and restaurants with gorgeous lights.
General Tips You Should Know about Istanbul
When you order food in a restaurant, it’s quite typical that you will have to order sides with it if you want french fries, salad, etc. When you order a portion of fish, you’ll only get the fish (not as filling as one would hope).
If you plan on visiting any mosques, you can save time by already wearing something to cover your shoulders, head (for women), and legs. A scarf is handy because you can wrap it on your head and shoulders and then you don’t have to put on a temporary scarf that they hand out at the visitors queue (ones that are reused by all tourists).
Remember sun screen! Just because it’s not too hot (thanks to river Bosphorus which brings in the cooling wind), the sun is still bright! Take care of your skin at all times.
Be careful with your belongings: in a busy city like Istanbul it’s common to have pickpockets. So don’t carry all your money, for example, with you. And keep your valuables in the hotel safe. Also, there are lots of taxi scams in Istanbul so make sure that you know the route (so the driver doesn’t take a longer route in order to get more money), make sure the meter is on, and pay attention to the change you get.
Things to Do in Istanbul
A lot of places give you free apple tea (make sure to have some, it’s my favorite tea in the world!) and baklava (pictured above) after your meal – take your time enjoying it. There’s nothing better than a relaxing moment with good food in a city like Istanbul. I’d recommend a cruise on the Bosphorus (don’t take any of the cruises offered by a travel agency or some such because they take double the money – just go to the harbor and buy a ticket with the locals to a cheaper ferry), a visit to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque. Be sure to also check out the Grand Bazar and the Egyptian Bazar (also known as the Spice Market) where you can haggle a great bargain!
Stay tuned for the part two of our Istanbul trip later this week!