Around one year ago I visited Istanbul for the first time. It was a great trip, generally I was very happy about it. I am going to share my experience with you, so maybe you can use it for your further trips:
- If you are going to Istanbul for leisure, make sure your hotel isn’t far from downtown.
Istanbul is a huge city, so if you don’t want to spend most of the time in traffic in order to get to the main historical places, it makes sense just to choose place to live closer to them. We stayed in apartment of our friends next to the Mall of Istanbul, and it was a way to far.
- Turkish food tastes fantastic to me.
I really liked shawarma, local kebabs. Desserts were also amazing, kunafa definitely is worth a try. Even in supermarket all product look fresh and delicious. I tried local street food too. Eating stuffed mussels was pleasant experience.
- If to choose between Turkish tea or coffee, I preferred the second one.
Turkish tea was just too intense for me, but their coffee had a great quality!
- I started my sightseeing from Taksim Square.
It’s crowded but has a great atmosphere. There you will find different shops, cafes and bars with the live music. Plus there are great areas for walk all around. Make sure you visit Bebek and Besiktas, those areas are great for walk!
- I also liked Grand Bazaar area.
Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered bazaars in the world, I personally was impressed by the huge size and architecture of this place.
If you want to do shopping there, simply bargain and you can get up to 50-60% discount. Also this is an excellent place for money exchange as they offer the best exchange rates for tourists in the city. Nuruosmaniye Masque, The Blue Mosque and Suleymanie Mosque are located next to Grand Bazaar, so you can visit them same day.
- The best shopping I have ever made was in Istanbul.
I really liked collections in shopping malls, the prices were reasonable and many offers were going on. The clothes from local brands had a great quality and design. So I highly recommend to consider Istanbul for shopping.
- I had issues with the local taxi drivers.
Yellow taxi drivers like to take people around the city just to get more money out of them. I personally needed to pay twice more few times because of this issue. But you always can avoid it by using clean and modern public transport. You will just need to buy Istanbul Card in advance.
- The landscapes and the views on Bosphorus River were just breathtaking.
I felt myself like in some movie, these landscapes in Istanbul are worth it all. I would recommend to visit a restaurant with the view on Bosphorus at least once.
Overall I had a good experience in Istanbul and definitely want to visit this city again in future.