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Napoleon Bonaparte said: "If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital."

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

And I say: He who travels a lot and never been to Istanbul, needs to go. He who’d been to Istanbul and didn’t like it, he doesn’t need an eye but a heart to see it.

Sultanahmet Jami, Blue Mosque

I fell in love with this magical city the first time I ever landed back in August 2005. I just felt that I was living in the fifteenth or the sixteenth century where I was the main character. Since that visit, my endless love story for this magical city started and I've been to turkey eight times since then. Despite being there several times, I think I've discovered only 0.9% of this charming country.

Bebek Sahili, Istanbul, Divan cafe
Divan Cafe in Bebek -May 2011 but this place has been renovated and looks completely different.

I traveled solo all the times, and I've never experienced any incident. It's a safe destination where people respect everyone and nobody ever bothered me even walking and touring alone.

I don't think I can cover in one article all what we can do in Istanbul but I'll try to summarize the must dos and must see places bellow, especially if it's your first visit. And to tell you the truth, I'd go to the same places and eat at the same restaurants again and again.

It’s all up to each person preferences but there are tons of things to do in Istanbul for all ages and tastes. Here are some suggestions:

Galata tower, Istanbul
Galata Tower

- Day 1:

Aya Sofia - Basilica Sistern - grand bazar and lunch at Tarihi Halkın Köftecisi who is famous of barbecued fresh ground meat and is located in the same neighborhood. SultanAhmet, this is my favorite neighborhood. This is where the history tales are told. This is where you get into the Turkish character. It is an incredible district. It is the old section of Istanbul where you can find many attractions including Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque. In addition this street has number of stores of baklava if you like sweets and there are tons of shops that sell local goods, leather, rugs, and souvenirs .

As well you should go to the most colorful neighborhood Balat.

Balat neighborhood

- Day 2:

On the second day, take a cruise on Bosphorus and on the way back have sea food dinner in Galata restaurants facing the sea. Another area that is famous with sea food is called Eminunu which is a walking distance from Galata. I personally prefer Galata at evenings because the view is incredible. If it's a lunch, I'll go to Eminunu where you pick your own fish and you let the chef cook it the way you like it, so you basically make your own meal but this time not at home, but in Istanbul.

- Day 3:

Cruise to the princess island. you need a whole day for this tour, it passes by 5-6 islands around Istanbul and it stops at the biggest island by the name of “buyugada” which means princess island. It’s beautiful, no cars are allowed here. You can tour it by walking, biking or by horse. Plenty of gorgeous local stores and restaurants on sea side with great food.

- Day 4:

A day to Rumeli Hisari to discover this palace, than a walk in Ortakoy neighborhood. Wander around and enjoy the incredible views of the bosphorous. Continue but by cap to Bebk Sahili and have a walk at the corniche like a local.

- Day 5:

If you are wandering around Taksim for a day and enjoying local musicians, the many good restaurants that this neighborhood has to offer or if you are staying in a hotel in Taksim which the majority of visitors do. Have a drink at the Opera Hotel that is located in the heart of Taksim. The scenery of the terrace is just outstanding and unforgettable, you get to see the whole city from up there.

Opera Hotel in Taksim. Sept. 2014

Update: Please check before you head to The Opera Hotel if they still serve drinks on their terrace as I heard they no longer provide this option.

- Day 6:

If you like shopping, my favorite area is Niçantasi neighborhood. Packed with outstanding local and international brands. Jewelry stores. I'd need two full days at least in this area plus you often meet few of their celebrities.

More things and places to visit:

-In the evenings, 360 is a good plan for drink or snacks with an outstanding evening view. It’s in the heart of Taksim too. -Alperenler café at Kandilli: it's a good restaurant for breakfast where you feel you are almost sitting in the sea with an amazing breakfast menu to start your day with.

Alperenler café

Please keep in mind that this destination is always evolving with new restaurants and places and things to do. You should always check before you head to a place to make sure it's available and still running.

I had the best of my vacation memories in this city. And every time I talk about it, I just feel I should pack and go. That's why looking for travel deals to Istanbul is one my weekly routines.

Wishing you all great and safe travels. Enjoy each second of it and let me know if you loved it!

Where the magical city is located!

N.B: The selection of photos in this article is not from one trip but from different ones!

Please check my recent post regarding my trip to Istanbul in October 2020 for a short time:

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