Istanbul is a city in Turkey with a very important historical, socio-cultural and economic location. While the Bosphorus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara; It separates the continent of Asia from the continent of Europe. I recommend you to explore the fascinating city of Istanbul at the first opportunity and have listed 5 things to do if you are visiting Istanbul for the first time.
1-VISIT THE PRINCE ISLANDS
Located in the Sea of Marmara, the Prince Islands consist of 9 separate islands. Only 5 of these islands have permanent settlements and can be visited. Located only 30 minutes from Istanbul by sea, these islands are a great weekend getaway route for those who want to get away from the chaos of the city and find peace. Now I will tell you about two of my favorite islands and what activities you can do on these islands.
Check the links below for ferry hours:
For private (sea) taxi option, call: +90 850 333 82 94
1) Kınalıada: It is the closest island to Istanbul. As soon as you set foot in Kınalıada, you can feel like you are in a small town. You can tour the whole island in an average of 1-1.30 hours on this island, where you can reach everywhere on foot. You can also rent a bicycle if you wish, but it should not be forgotten that there are steep slopes during the tour :). When you reach the top of the island, the whole Marmara Sea will be under your feet with the view you will see from the Hristos Monastery located here. If you wish, you can prepare your coffee in the thermos in advance and take a break in this area, it will be quite enjoyable. After completing your tour, you can cool off by buying ice cream from the famous 50-year-old, 100% natural ice cream seller Ömer Usta in the bazaar. I especially recommend you to try lemon and strawberry. As a restaurant option, I will recommend the Jash restaurant, which is located by the sea. You can taste different Armenian appetizers prepared by the famous Chef Herman, accompanied by rakı. Also, don’t leave without eating the seafood linguine.
2) Burgazada: It is the second closest island to Istanbul. I recommend you to start your tour of the island by eating the wonderful “mille-feuille” with strawberry and cherry options at the Ergün Patisserie, which is located right in the square and will appear as soon as you get off the ferry. Afterward, you can visit the white mansion where Sait Faik Abasıyanık, one of the important writers of Contemporary Turkish Literature, lived, which has now been converted into a museum. You can see the author’s personal belongings, library and notes in this museum, which has free entrance. If you are visiting during the summer months, you can swim, sunbathe or even camp at the beach at Madame Marta Bay, located behind the island, for free. Finally, you can taste delicious appetizers and eat fresh fish at Kalpazankaya Restaurant, located just ahead of the beach. This restaurant, which is also suitable for date dinner, is a great spot to watch the sunset accompanied by an amazing sea view.
2- DO A BOSPHORUS TOUR
The Bosphorus, which separates the Asian and European continents, is one of the must-see places. It is possible to make the Bosphorus tour by sea. You can visit the Bosphorus line with the boats departing from the city centers and the fluent narration of the equipped guides. You can get detailed information about the palaces, historical mansions and their owners on the Bosphorus.
You can start your day by having your take away breakfast on the grass in Bebek Park or by having your breakfast against the sea view at the well-established Baylan Patisserie, which has been in service since 1923. Afterward, you can reach Emirgan by walking along a 2 km coastal road accompanied by the sea on your right and magnificent houses and historical mansions on your left. Visiting Emirgan Grove, especially during the tulip season in April and May, will be one of the activities that will fascinate you visually. You can also visit the Sakıp Sabanci Museum (SSM), which is located very close to the grove and hosts international exhibitions. Even if you are not interested in visiting the exhibition, you can enter the museum to visit the garden of the magnificent mansion and witness the Bosphorus view from above. Towards the sunset, you can sip your cocktail or wine against the Bosphorus view on Bebek Hotel By The Stay Collection’s delightful roof terrace, and dance to music on this terrace that turns into a club later in the night.
Since there are more settlements and mansions on this side, unfortunately, there is no uninterrupted coastal road where you can take long walks compared to the European side. Your first stop on this side may be Kuzguncuk, a district that has witnessed history and is known as the first Jewish settlement. You can go on a nostalgic journey in this district, which has not spoiled its historical texture even after years. You can come across colorful historical mansions, churches and chapels in narrow streets. If you are hungry, I strongly recommend you to try Metet Döner. But be prepared for long queues as it is a tiny restaurant. If you want to eat fish, it is certain that you will happily leave Suna’nın Yeri, a cozy restaurant located right next to the ferry port in Kandilli. Don’t leave without tasting the fava and fried calamari.
3- TAKE A TOUR AT BEYOĞLU – ISTIKLAL STREET & GALATA
You can start your tour by walking on Istiklal Street, one of the most famous and busy streets of Istanbul, which starts from Taksim Square and is closed to vehicle traffic. If you like to try street delicacies, you can visit the Fish Market opposite Galatasaray High School. I strongly recommend you to try kokoreç or fried mussels in the famous kokorecçi Mercan, located at the entrance of the bazaar, and hamburgers at the Kızılkayalar buffet. After trying the delicacies, you can visit the courtyard and interior of St. Antuan Church, the largest catholic church in Istanbul, located on the left of the street. You can also attend mass if you go early on Sundays. You can continue your tour by taking profiteroles at İnci Patisserie, which has witnessed history, and you can visit the old passages (Atlas, Suriye and Çiçek). At Pera Palas Hotel, which is parallel to Istiklal Street, you can have afternoon tea accompanied by İlham Gencer’s piano for 290 TL between 15.00 and 18.00 on weekdays in the magnificent and historical “Domed Hall”. You can also visit the rooms where Atatürk and the famous crime writer Agatha Christie stayed, which have been preserved and turned into a museum. If you are interested in orientalist painting collections, Pera Museum, located nearby the hotel, is a good alternative. Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Tanpınar’s most famous work “Turtle Trainer” is located here. (For students, the entrance fee is 20 TL / 10 TL). When you come to the end of Istiklal Street, you can reach the Galata Tower by going to the left. I recommend that you wait in the long queue to climb this tower, which has an entrance fee of 100 TL (50 TL for students), because when you climb to the top, you will encounter a 360-degree panoramic view of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. You can have a drink and sip your rose blush wine with snacks at the cute Güney Restaurant with small tables just across the Galata Tower. Then, Ecole St. Pierre Hotel is one of the stops that can be visited to witness the historical texture closely. At the same time, Il Cortile Restaurant with French cuisine, located in the courtyard of the hotel, is a very alternative option for a date with an elegant dinner. The restaurant’s signature dishes include arancini, truffle risotto, beef ribs and crème brulée.
4- VISIT HAGIA SOPHIA & TOPKAPI PALACE
Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace are located at Sultanahmet which is the most important place in the Historic Peninsula, which was the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Topkapı Palace, the administrative center of the deep-rooted Ottoman Empire, will take you on a journey in history with its magnificent structure. Hagia Sophia is an architectural beauty and an important monument both for the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. This building, which used to be a church, has now been converted into a mosque. You can also have a traditional bath experience and spend fun moments in the Haseki Hürrem Sultan Hamam, built by Mimar Sinan in the 16th century, adjacent to Hagia Sophia. Finally, don’t forget to eat traditional Turkish kebab and Turkish type ravioli.
Check the links below for a video tour of Istanbul:
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