As mentioned in my first blog post, which you can see here, I’ve separated Istanbul into two – firstly the hotel, and secondly the itinerary.
We spent three nights in Istanbul and packed in the usual tourist hot spots. This was mainly down to purchasing a 48hr hop-on hop-off ticket with Big Bus – we got around the city in good time, jumping on and off when we pleased. The views just riding around are good enough for you not to want to get off though…
First stop after out flight was the Dolmabahçe Palace to tick off the first historical building we’d visit during the trip, the giant gates below are the entrance – you just know the rest of the palace is going to be stunning, and it was, but a no photo rule means you’ll have to visit to see for yourselves!
Post palace we jumped aboard the bus and back to the Sultanahmet District where we were staying to wander the streets, drink some tea, relax and freshen up before dinner.
Our second day was filled with more walking, site seeing and taking in of the local culture. The queues to the Blue Mosque are long but it is worth it to see such an old religious building in the flesh. Mid-morning is said to be the best time to visit.
The underground water reservoir Basilica Cistern was a fascinating venture and also a good escape from the midday sun!
Dinner on out second evening was taken aboard a boat, as we’d pre booked two spaces on a Bosphorus Dinner Cruise complete with Turkish entertainment – Anatolian dances and belly dancers. Of course the views were great as we cruised on down the Bosphorus river and under the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.
Day three was a leisurely day with lots of time to explore the Grand Bazaar, which was fantastic and we came away with some lovely bits BUT could have bought so much more, unfortunately we only had hand luggage allowance with British Airways, sad face.
You can’t leave Istanbul without experiencing a hamam, it basically criminal, so before dinner on our final night we paid a visit to the Cagaloglu Hamam which was located fairly close to our hotel. What an experience! I wish hamams were more of a thing in London thats for sure.
Our final day pre-flight consisted of ticking off the sites we’d not been able to fit in yet. Aya Sofya was one of these, again steeped in history and with beautiful architecture that matched all the other incredible tourist hubs around the city.
Istanbul proved to be the most amazing experience, and don’t even get me started on the baklava – yum is an understatement, just looking at it makes my mouth water…
As soon as we stepped on the plane back to London we vowed to return to this incredible city, sadly with the unrest in Turkey at present I’m not sure when this will be possible but we keep our fingers crossed it won’t be long, not just for ourselves and our travels but for all those who reside in Istanbul.