Want to travel from Istanbul to Cappadocia – one of the most unique places in Turkey? Find out how to travel to the region by car, bus and plane.
If you’re planning a holiday to Turkey, I’d recommend starting in Istanbul, then travelling to Cappadocia for a few days, and finishing with a little bit of beach time in somewhere like Alanya or Antalya.
Eating fish sandwiches on Galata Bridge and haggling in the Grand Bazaar… most guide books will describe these as unmissable experiences. But there’s plenty more to Istanbul. Here is my guide to the perfect 24 hours in an incredible city!
10.00: First stop, get your bearings by heading to Konak Café. While most guides will tell you to climb Galata Tower for panoramic views of the city, a visit to Konak Café avoids the queues, ticket price and being surrounded by hundreds of other tourists! The panoramic view is clear and colourful… plus you can spend the money you saved on a traditional cup of Turkish coffee!
11.00: Wander past Galata Tower to Galata Bridge. Lined with fisherman, it feels like stepping back in time. At the end of the bridge, take in the incredible view of the New Mosque (Yeni Cami). Often surrounded by seagulls, it’s an impressive feat of architecture. Visiting here is one of the top things to do in Istanbul.
There’s a beautiful story behind Istanbul’s Rainbow Steps, guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Some pre-trip research on Istanbul in Turkey, brought up some very colourful photos on Instagram. They were of the so-called ‘Rainbow Steps’ linking the arty districts of Findikli and Cihangir.
They reminded me of the Lapa Steps in Rio… another magical set of stairs that brought tourists to an otherwise overlooked area.
So, what’s the story? Are they highlighting LGBT issues? Something political? Or are they just a bit of fun?
In 2013, retired forestry engineer Huseyin Cetinel spent four days and around £500 transforming the huge staircase, from concrete grey, to beautiful rainbow colours. It was a kind of guerrilla street art project. No one expected it, but everyone fell in love with it.
From tasty kebabs and mint tea, to honey, fish sandwiches and pickles, a food tour of Istanbul is a perfect way to get to know this special Turkish city. Find out what to expect, what delicious Turkish foods you might get to sample, plus some useful info to plan your visit.
When we talk about transcontinental cities – Istanbul is Queen Bee. Half of her sits happily in Europe entertaining the tourists, while her lesser explored half plays across the Bosphorus strait in Asia.
Istanbul’s rich history has created one of the most multicultural and diverse cities in the world. Greeks, Persians, Romans, Venetians and Ottomans have all taken a stab at leadership, and the location was pivotal in the development of the Silk Road from China to Europe. All of this has had a huge influence on the culture, and alongside that, has resulted in a varied and delicious cuisine.
17 million people call Istanbul home, so it can be a little overwhelming for a new visitor. When spending a few nights in the city, most tourists won’t venture beyond the central zones of Sultanahmet (the old town), Taksim, Beyoglu, and Istiklal. However, for my food tour of Istanbul I escaped to Kadiköy, to get a taste of what life is like on the other side.
I’ve always LOVED food tours. I think you learn all about a place by not only eating the local food, but hearing from those who call the place home. Some tours are gourmet, some are rustic. Either way, a culinary introduction to a city really helps you get under its skin!
This food tour of Istanbul would introduce me to traditional Turkish cuisine, taking me down the city’s culinary backstreets to places I’d never have known to visit on my own.
I met local tour guide Guney around 9am on a bright April morning on the busy promenade by the Galata Bridge. He was friendly, enthusiastic and ready to take our small group (3 Brits, 1 American and 1 Kiwi) on a tour of his home city. To kick it off, we hopped on board the ferry to take us across the Bosphorus to Kadiköy, and warmed up with a glass of traditional Turkish tea.
The ferry took around 20 minutes, but once I stepped off the boat, I felt like I had left the city. Where were the tourists? Why didn’t they come to this area? Gunay informed me that while this was a more ‘local’ district, it was by no means a cheaper place to live! Many locals took the ferry daily across the water to Europe… no passport required. None of the key landmarks are located in this region (Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Taksim Square etc) so those with limited time wouldn’t prioritise a trip here. It was refreshing to see locals going about their daily business, whether that be rushing to work, sweeping the streets, delivering fish to restaurants, or baking Turkish pizza!
Time to check out the Point Hotel Taksim in Istanbul, Turkey.
With only a few days in Istanbul, the dilemma is whether to stay in the old town close to landmarks such as The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar, or stay in the modern town, in the heart of the shopping, dining and nightlife district. I opted for the latter, and enjoyed 4 nights at the Point Hotel Taksim
It prides itself on being an affordable 4 star hotel, within walking distance of Taksim Square – one of the best areas to stay in Istanbul. The name? Well it’s a triangular building, with the entrance being at a point. It boasts a 9th floor restaurant (where breakfast is served) with panoramic views of the city. There is a spa, gym and swimming pool in the basement, and a Japanese sushi restaurant and bar on the ground floor. It provided the perfect base for a city break.
While there, I stayed in three different rooms, on different floors (I’ll get into why in a moment!) They were all clean, modern, with nice touches such as the gift of an evil eye bead (evil eye is a symbol of protection in Turkey), a pillow menu, a book with 101 Ways To Sleep Happily, a CD of lullabies to encourage better rest, and an arrival gift of a fruit bowl and a bottle of Turkish red wine.