For my birthday i planned an escapade weekend to Istanbul Turkey. Very smart decision.
A close friend and I traveled to Istanbul last Thursday (May1st) and headed to the hotel directly. We were smart enough to stay in the old town. The old town is insanely romantic, very central, full of restaurants and bars and most importantly very very quiet.
Here are MY recommendations to see Turkey:
1- Pack light.The shopping temptations are insane
2- Stay in the Old town in a cute boutique hotel. there are plenty. Choose the hotel with a rooftop. Seeing the city at night from the roof of the hotel is quite amazing.
3- Walk and walk and walk around the old town. We were staying next to Hagia Sophia and the blue mosque. We did the whole city on foot. it was great.
4- Do the turkish Hamam. DO NOT MISS THAT. My skin still feels soft and shiny. Amazing therapy, both physical and mental.
5- Eat at Nusret Steakhouse. i would give this restaurant a high five. It’s not cheap but worth every penny. The waiters are so friendly and the meat is uncomparable and the ambience is really nice. 🙂
6- Go see the Prince’s Islands if you have time to kill. It’s a two hour boat ride from Istanbul. the Scenery is amazing and very relaxing. I would pack a bikini top and do some tanning while you’re at it. If you are as lucky as we were you would see a pack of Dolphins swimming very close to the ferry.
7- Dervish prayer dance. I was amazed to see religious men in white robes whirling in prayer. No clapping and no photos allowed, don’t get too excited.
8- Plan your eating places ahead of time. Once you get there all places would be fully booked. Buy the tourist attractions tickets online, the queues are insane. The only bad experience was the world famous REINA club, their watchdog decided we were no good to get in. Too bad. Would have loved to see it. if you book in the restaurant though they have to let you in.
9- Go to Taksim square and discover never before seen seas of people. The masses walking down Istiklal street at every hour of the day is very impressive. Dine at 360 on Taksim. You get to see an all round view of Istanbul from up there.
10- I found it quite affordable compared to Beirut. The bottle of water (Nestle) is for 0.75 Turkish Lira (~0.3$) in the touristic area. A decent meal is for 25-30$ without alcohol.
I love Istanbul, the city on two continents is definitely a city to see. Go witness this vibrant city and enjoy the calmness of the Old days and the bustle of the present in one single hour. I hope everyone who got to see it agrees with me cause there are some contradicting views about istanbul. If i understood well it is all about where you stay. I would definitely recommend the European side in the old city… 🙂