The Grand and Bizarre: An Ultimate Weekend Guide To Istanbul
Have you seen the beginning of Skyfall? Where James Bond races through the city of Istanbul on a back chasing a bad guy across rooftop after rooftop before crashing through the glass of the Grand Bazaar and eventually ending up jumping onto a train before becoming embroiled in a huge punch-up? Well your trip to Turkey’s biggest city will be nothing like that but it will be just as exciting.
With cheap Istanbul holidays available readily, and so much going on down every nook and cranny, it’s impossible not to have an incredible trip to Istanbul. There’s history on every corner, and mouth-watering food at every stall and restaurant.
Whether it be history, great food, or modern culture, Turkey has a wealth to offer, and you won’t go far wrong with sampling these fantastic locations…
Eat Like An Istanbulite
Firstly, the food in Istanbul – and in fact Turkey as a whole – is just incredible. A fusion of Central Asian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean food all come from the Ottoman Empire, producing some unbelievable flavours.
One place which is a must try is Güler Ocakbaşı Harbiye, just a stone’s throw from St. Esprit Cathedral and serves up the finest kebabs in the city. It is particularly popular amongst locals and is well worth a trip, especially for their fistikli kebap, a truly gorgeous dish.
With so much exploring to do, it can’t be done on an empty stomach and the place to head for breakfast is the Kale Café overlooking the Bosphorus. A little out of town, it’s worth visiting if you’re planning a day outside of the city towards the pretty Emirgan Park.
Back in the city, and old Ottoman cuisine is most definitely worth trying at Cibalikapı Balıkçısı, where they serve up fish dishes from the bygone era with a modern twist. It can get incredibly busy so it’s advised to book in advance – it’s a real Turkish experience that mustn’t be missed.
Experience A Turkish Bath
As you’d expect with Turkish baths, there are many in Istanbul, and generally you can’t go wrong with any of them. Named hamams in Turkish, they’ve been helping the people of Istanbul take a break for hundreds of years.
The Çemberlitaş Hamam dates back to 1584 and is just a short walk from the Grand Bazaar and opposite the Column of Constantine, a monumental column which was built in 330 AD. With heated marble floors and stunning domed architecture, it’s impossible not to be relaxed, particularly with the amazing oil massages and baths.
There are dozens of hamams dotted right across the city offering different treatments, and will undoubtedly contribute to providing you with the ultimate Istanbul weekend.
Shop At The Grand Bazaar
Last year Istanbul’s infamous Grand Bazaar was the most visited tourist attraction on the planet with over a whopping 91 million visitors. It’s a bustling marketplace at its very finest with fashion items, jewellery, porcelain, and furniture alongside plenty of other trinkets on offer, and is perfect for collecting a souvenir or two.
With parts of the structure dating back to the 1400s, it’s served the Turkish community for generations upon generations growing into one of the oldest and largest on the planet, covering 61 streets and over 3,000 shops.
Take A Stroll On The Art Walk
One of the finest cities in the world for creativity, Istanbul is awash with intriguing street art, with a number of tours taking you on an adventure around the Turkish city’s best pieces.
Districts such as Şişhane and Karaköy on the European side of the Bosphorus are a must see, walking through the cool shopping districts and down to the beach, streets lined with unusual graffiti.
Maltepe on the Asian side is equally as interesting, with murals dominating walls and is home to the Istanbul Street Art Festival which welcomes over 30 artists from all over the world.
Stand Back And Enjoy The City’s Magnificence
Located to the north of the Golden Horn, the building dates back to 1348 but the inside has been completely modernised with a fantastic observation deck alongside a café and even nightclub making it one of the most unusual places to party in the world. Now that, really would cap off an ultimate weekend in Istanbul.