11 things to do in Istanbul

‘Culture is mix. Culture means a mix of things from other sources. And my town, Istanbul, was this kind of mix. Istanbul {…} is a testimony to the fact that East and West combine cultural gracefully, or sometimes in an anarchic way, came together, and that is what we should search for.’ This quote of the famous Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk is so true and describes the way I experienced Istanbul.

I wrote about the diversity of the neighborhoods in my previous post here. Today, I want to share the things I loved the most in Istanbul. I thought about what made my visit special, also apart from the popular sightseeing tours. Therefore, here are 11 activities that filled my heart with joy and happiness.

1. Enjoy dinner in Kadıköy close to the Bosporus with Meze and Raki – I had the best nights in the small, colorful and loud alleys on the Asian side. Here, the priority is not to be best dressed, show the best manners or be the coolest person on earth. It’s about having fun, telling jokes, being together.

2. Take ferries as often as possible. The views are gorgeous and it is the easiest way to move around. I like water and if you also do, Istanbul is perfect for you.

3. Buy and eat corncobs, chestnuts and sesame rings at the food stands on the street – I miss these stands in Berlin so much. Actually, I ate corncobs everyday, as snack or breakfast. You can get them grilled or boiled in hot water. Normally, I go for the grilled version.

4. Have a Turkish mocca and çay – I liked both, but the mocca is special. The çay is black Turkish tee and everyone drinks it all day everyday. For mocca, go to Fazıl Bey  – coffee shop in Kadıköy which is very close to the ferry.

5. Enjoy amazing Bosporus views in Üsküdar. I was suprised by the beauty of this area, because I didn’t have it on my list before.

6. Buy an organic Turkish towel at Jennifer’s Hamam. The shop is near the Blue Mosque, part of Arasta Bazaar and offers the best Turkish towels.

7. Eat at least one meal of Manti (Vegetarian options available!).

8. Take detours and backstreets and discover cool places. This is really recommendable in Beyoğlu and Besiktas. You will find lovely streets and local cafés and restaurants.

9. Plan half a day for Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Topkapı Palace. All these world-known places are beautiful and you should go there if you are in Istanbul.

10. Walk as much as you can to see and feel the city. In a bus you will miss alleys and the one and only Istanbul vibes.

11. Take an amazing photo on the Galata Bridge – afternoon is the perfect timing.

While I am writing this post, the wanderlust grabs me again. Being on the road in foreign countries and cultures makes life so much richer and Istanbul was one of the places that impressed me the most. Make sure to visit the city one day, if you you haven’t already.

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