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Istanbul in 24 hours: History, Culture, and Cuisine!

In August 2019, we embarked on an exhilarating 24-hour journey through the enchanting city of Istanbul, immersing ourselves in its rich history, vibrant culture, and culinary delights. From iconic landmarks to bustling markets and serene waterfronts, every moment was a testament to Istanbul’s timeless allure and endless treasures waiting to be discovered.

Travel Trivia:

  1. Visa: Travelers from many countries can obtain an e-Visa online for tourism or business purposes, making travel to Turkey relatively straightforward.
  2. Flights: Many major cities around the world have direct flights to Istanbul and other Turkish cities, making travel to Turkey convenient and accessible.
  3. Weather: Turkey experiences diverse climates, from Mediterranean along the coast to continental inland. Summers are hot and dry, while winters can be cold and snowy, especially in mountainous regions.
  4. Bordering Countries: Turkey shares borders with eight countries: Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
  5. Languages Spoken: The official language is Turkish, but many people in tourist areas and larger cities speak English, especially in hotels, restaurants, and shops.
  6. Population: Turkey has a population of over 86 million people, making it one of the most populous countries in Europe and the Middle East.
  7. Currency: The currency used in Turkey is the Turkish lira (TRY). It’s recommended to exchange currency at official exchange offices or banks for the best rates.
  8. Culture and Heritage: Turkey boasts a rich cultural heritage influenced by various civilizations throughout history, including Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. This is reflected in its architecture, cuisine, and traditions.
  9. Landmarks: Turkey is home to many iconic landmarks such as the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Pamukkale’s thermal pools, Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys, and the ancient city of Ephesus.
  10. Cuisine: Turkish cuisine is renowned for its diverse flavors and dishes like kebabs, mezes, baklava, and Turkish delight. Don’t miss trying traditional Turkish tea or coffee!
  11. Hospitality: Turkish people are known for their warm hospitality and friendly demeanor, making visitors feel welcome and at home during their travels in Turkey.

Stay: Bahaus Guesthouse Hostel

Our itinerary for 24 hours in Istanbul:

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Morning:

  1. Breakfast at Van Kahvaltı Evi: We kicked off our day at Van Kahvaltı Evi, a renowned spot for traditional Turkish breakfast. The spread was a feast for the senses, featuring a variety of cheeses, olives, fresh bread, honey, jams, and an assortment of pastries. The cozy atmosphere and friendly service made it a delightful start to our Istanbul journey.
  2. Hagia Sophia: Our next stop was the iconic Hagia Sophia, a marvel of Byzantine architecture. Stepping inside, we were captivated by the grandeur of its dome, intricate mosaics depicting religious scenes, and the rich history that echoed through its walls. The blend of Christian and Islamic elements was truly awe-inspiring.
  3. Blue Mosque: Adjacent to Hagia Sophia, we entered the tranquil courtyard of the Blue Mosque. Its six minarets and cascading domes stood as a testament to Ottoman architectural splendor. Inside, the delicate blue tiles and the massive central dome left us in awe, creating a serene and spiritual ambiance.

Afternoon:

  1. Lunch at Çiya Sofrası: For lunch, we savored the flavors of Anatolian cuisine at Çiya Sofrası. The restaurant’s commitment to using fresh, local ingredients shone through in every dish, from stuffed grape leaves and kebabs to hearty lentil soups and aromatic rice pilafs. It was a culinary journey through Turkey’s diverse culinary heritage.
  2. Topkapi Palace: Our afternoon was dedicated to exploring the opulent Topkapi Palace, once the residence of Ottoman sultans. We wandered through its ornate chambers, lush gardens, and treasury filled with priceless artifacts. The views of the Bosphorus from the palace grounds were breathtaking, offering a glimpse into Istanbul’s historical grandeur.
  3. Grand Bazaar: As the day progressed, we immersed ourselves in the bustling lanes of the Grand Bazaar. The vibrant market buzzed with activity as we browsed through stalls selling spices, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and more. The sensory overload of colors, aromas, and sounds made it a quintessential Istanbul experience.

Evening:

  1. Dinner at Hamdi Restaurant: For dinner, we treated ourselves to a culinary feast at Hamdi Restaurant, known for its panoramic views of the Golden Horn. The menu featured a tantalizing array of Turkish specialties, from succulent kebabs and grilled meats to fresh seafood and mezes. The ambiance, coupled with the delectable food, made it a memorable dining experience.
  2. Bosphorus Cruise: As night fell, we embarked on a leisurely Bosphorus cruise. Gliding along the shimmering waters, we admired the illuminated skyline of Istanbul, with landmarks like the Maiden’s Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace, and Ortaköy Mosque casting a magical glow. It was a serene and romantic way to end our day in the city.

Night:

  1. Taksim Square: We ventured into Taksim Square, a bustling hub of activity and nightlife. The square was alive with energy, with street performers, lively cafes, and bustling shops lining the streets. It was the perfect spot to soak in Istanbul’s vibrant nocturnal charm.
  2. Istiklal Street: Our final exploration took us down Istiklal Street, a pedestrian boulevard brimming with history and modernity. Lined with boutiques, art galleries, theaters, and eateries, it was a melting pot of culture and diversity. We strolled past historic landmarks like the Galata Tower, soaking in the lively atmosphere and savoring the last moments of our Istanbul adventure.
  3. Sip Turkish Coffee at Mandabatmaz: End your night on a caffeinated note at Mandabatmaz, a legendary spot known for its velvety Turkish coffee served in traditional copper pots.

Our 24-hour journey through Istanbul was a tapestry of experiences, from the ancient wonders of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace to the sensory delights of the Grand Bazaar and the culinary pleasures of Turkish cuisine. Each place we visited offered a unique glimpse into Istanbul’s rich heritage and vibrant soul, leaving us with cherished memories and a longing to return and explore more of this enchanting city. Until next time, Istanbul, thank you for an unforgettable adventure!

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