Istanbul: Essential Guide

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Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul - © MasterLu - Fotolia.com

Istanbul: guide with the most important things to see and the best activities to do.

Istanbul is one of the most visited cities in the world, and is basically due to the fact that it was the capital of three great empires: Romado, Byzantine and Ottoman. For that reason no traveler in the world can let it pass by.

It is a beautiful city, with an antithesis of serenity and chaos; It has approximately 15 million inhabitants, making it the largest city in all of Turkey.

It is also fully verified: all visitors are amazed and amazed by this city with air and oriental armor, but with a European and Western heart.

When sightseeing in Istanbul, you can be between two seas: the Sea of ​​Marmara and the Black Sea; just as it is in two continents: Europe and Asia, and between two completely opposite worlds: traditional and modern.
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How to get to Istanbul?

The most common way to get to Istanbul is by plane, although there are other alternatives.

Airplane: This city has two international airports: Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen. The first is located much closer to the city and is generally the main and most important. Similarly, the second is located at 50 kilometers in its Asian part.

  • Atatürk International Airport: it is the most important in the city and is located 28 kilometers southwest of Istanbul.
  • Sabiha Gökçen International Airport: this is located 50 kilometers east of the city, east of the city, in its Asian part. This is preferred by all budget airlines.

Train: the country in general has a pretty good network, and in particular this city receives trains from different parts of Europe.

Car: This city - and in general the country - has quite high accident rates, so it is recommended not to use a car.
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Which places should be visited in Istanbul?

Istanbul at sunset
Istanbul at sunset - © Tomas Sereda - Fotolia.com

Istanbul offers a large variety of places and sites quite interesting for any traveler, however, these are places that for no reason can be forgotten.

  • Hagia Sophia: It is one of the best known images of Istanbul. It has been in the present history for more than 1.500 years. It is a majestic work of art the Byzantine period.
  • Blue mosque: It was built by Sultan Ahmed I in the 17th century. This is the most famous mosque in the whole city.
  • Topkapi Palace: a reflection of the greatness achieved by Constantinople. From this site the sultans managed to govern until approximately 1850.
  • Basilica Cistern: It is one of the common visits of tourists. This submerged palace is one of the preferred ones in Istanbul.
  • Galata Tower: It was occupied by Sultan Mehmet II in the conquest of Constantinople. It is one of the oldest towers in the world.
  • San Salvador in Chora: This Church is currently considered one of the best in the world, mainly for the representation of Byzantine art.
  • Galata Bridge: It has more than 480 meters in length, and is located in what is known as the Golden Horn, where old Istanbul meets its modern zone.
  • Gülhane Park: an ideal place to relax and have a good time. It is one of the best walks that can be done.

What are the means of transport in Istanbul?

The existing transport network in Istanbul is quite good and has an over-salient operation.

The main means of transportation in Istanbul are:

Trolley car: This is the most comfortable means of travel in the city.

In it you can visit the main points of interest.

Meter: This network is quite limited, and does not attract much attention from tourists.

It is useful to go to the airport.

Bus: They are the cheapest means of transportation in the city, however they are very complicated to understand.

Taxi: taxis in Istanbul are very cheap and are ideal for getting to several points in the city.

What can you eat in Istanbul?

The Ortakoy Mosque, Istanbul
The Ortakoy Mosque, Istanbul - © MasterLu - Fotolia.com

It is clear that this culture is millenary and with many customs acquired over the centuries; Generally experts usually give a similar level to Turkish cuisine with Chinese or French.

Mainly because of its location, being between two seas allows the fish to dominate a large part of the menu in restaurants. Meat is one of the star dishes of Turkey.

Their typical dishes, and the most recommended are the following:

  • Testi Kebab: undoubtedly this earns the title of the most curious dish in the city. It is a stew of meat that is made in a ceramic container that is later broken to serve.
  • Chicken with honey: There is very little to explain about it. Only they have a way to cook it magnificently. It is a delicious dish.
  • Lüfer: ideal for those who want to try the typical fish: the blue fish of Bosphorus.

Going shopping in Istanbul

This city is the capital of shopping, and in all its streets you can find several shops dedicated to crafts, fashion, some gastronomic products and, interestingly, forgeries.

Some of the most common and typical products of Istanbul are:

  • Carpets: They are possibly the best known products in all of Turkey. You can find carpets in a variety of ways, from the cheapest to the most expensive.
  • Antiques: Most objects tend to be fakes.
  • Clothing: This city is one of the main European countries to buy high quality counterfeit clothing. The best street for this purpose is Cadircilar Caddesi, place by which it is reached by the Grand Bazaar; It is very curious, but it seems that the laws did not exist.

Likewise, it is very common for street vendors to be located on every street, but if you look for something a little better, you can not forget the Grand Bazaar; In this place there are close to 3600 stores spread over a total of 64 streets. There is also the Spice Bazaar, as its name indicates, it is the ideal place to buy typical products. Something truly exceptional.