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Want to experience the startling natural vicinities, vibrant nightlife and the combination of eastern & western culture at one place? Well, this is where you should include Istanbul tourism in your bucket list. It is the only City in all over the world which is built on two continents. As it is the most attractive traveling destination, every year millions of tourists come to Istanbul for a vacation with their dear ones. Historical landmarks, humble denizens, great hospitality, Shopper’s paradise are some indispensable reasons that prove why Istanbul is the best touristic place on earth.

So, if you are planning to visit Istanbul and looking for a complete guide for things to do in Istanbul? Where to stay in Istanbul? What are the best restaurants in Istanbul? Best Place to enjoy nightlife in Istanbul? And where to get the best shopping experience in Istanbul? Then I am here to help you with my Istanbul Itinerary, showing you the beauty of Istanbul through my outstanding experience and memories.

Now, are you ready to get enchanted by the beauty of Turkey, its culture and its people? How exciting! Well, here is the list of things you should do in Istanbul, based on what I experienced there:

~Best Places To Go Shopping In Istanbul~

Istanbul can be a treat for those, who just love shopping at different places as me. Being a shopaholic, I was eagerly waiting for exploring the great market of Istanbul, and then I visited the following places that really satisfied my excited shopaholic mind-

Grand Bazaar: I visited here on my day 2 of itinerary. This is one of the reasons to visit Istanbul for all the shopping lovers as it is one of the biggest street markets across the world. The bazaar consists of over 5,000 shops selling a wide variety of items like clothes, jewelry ornaments and beautiful traditional items.

Spice Bazaar: After then, it was an amazing experience exploring a Spice Bazaar, which is adjacent to the Grand Bazaar and the most popular Istanbul attractions, famous for an extensive collection of top-quality dry fruits and spices. I am sure that if you are going Istanbul, you won’t leave the place without picking up some Turkish spices.

Nisantasi and Atlas Pasaji: Nisantasi and Atlas Pasaji is definitely the most exclusive shopping street in Istanbul, I found all the major designer stores on this street. There were great boutiques with clothing and accessories from local designers only in Bebek and Arnavutkoy.

If you appreciate handmade products and are looking for an extra special gift or souvenir, Çicek İsleri is definitely worth a visit.

Other Local Shops: Also, I visited many other shops that sell local items as well as unique things that you must buy from Istanbul for yourself and to decorate your home.

Mosaic Lamps, hand-crafted by experienced artisans in a unique Turkish style. Hand Painted Ceramic Plates, Ceramic bowls, plates are sold a lot in Istanbul, with influences of ceramic tiles that cover the walls of the mosques.

Ottoman Jewellery locally produced jewellery, inspired by authentic Ottoman pieces, can make a truly unique gift. I really loved these items.

Food or Sweets to Buy for Home:

Şekerci Cafe Erol: The historic sweet shop Şekerci Cafe Erol has been providing Istanbul with a sugar rush for more than 20 years now. It is known for hard candies and syrup-rich pastries, not to mention some of the city’s greatest Lokum. These are the Turkish sweets made out of starch and sugar. They come in different shapes and sizes, but each one promises to be just as tasty. You can take it for your friends and families. They surely going to love these sweets.

Pickles are beloved feature of the city’s cuisine, or sold from historic storefronts throughout the city, and a traditional way to preserve fruits and vegetables. Purchase an assortment of seasonal pickles to take away.

Tomato and Pepper Pastes at Ulaş Baharat. While you’re in Istanbul, pick up some thick and tart pomegranate molasses to add to roasted vegetables and salad dressings.

~Hotel Stays with Modern Appeal in Istanbul~

When it comes to hotel stays in Istanbul, there are many names in the list that are built many decades ago, but also has new ones that deliver modern appeal. You can choose the one that matches your interests and budget. But I would recommend Meddusa Hotel because-

⦁ Budget-friendly place with amazing views,
⦁ Good hospitality.
⦁ Located at walking distance from the Old City where the streets are narrow, smell of spices fill the air.
⦁ Monuments such as The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum and Topkapi Palace Museum that attracts tourists are quite near to this hotel.

⦁ Turkish bath at Cagaloglu Hamami which is very close to the Meddusa Hotel, which is famous throughout the world because of its unique cultural purification formula.
⦁ Located a short distance away from Istanbul Atatürk Airport and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport.

Apart from this, you can also stay at Witt Istanbul Suites, Hotel Amira, Millennium Suites, Basileus Hotel and so on.

Hotels Located in Quite location

Glamour Hotel Istanbul Sirkeci: Glamour Hotel Istanbul Sirkeci is situated at 500 m from Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Glamour Hotel Istanbul Sirkeci have an amazing sea-view terrace, and air-conditioned with free Wi-Fi rooms. And its average price range per night is 504 Turkish lira to 588 Turkish lira.

Peyk Hotel Istanbul: Peyk Hotel located in the center of Historic Peninsula. Peyk Hotel is at very short distance from many historical places such as Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. The average range to stay per night is in between 420 Turkish lira to 505 Turkish lira.

Apple Tree Hotel: Apple Tree hotel is located in Sultanhmet and at walking distance from the Blue Mosque. The average range per night is around 252 Turkish lira

~What To Eat And Where To Eat?~

I would say that Turkish foods and Turkish delights are worth to taste. Highly Delectable!! A traditional Turkish platter comprises Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Caucasian, Central and Western European flavors. Now, if you are looking for-

Best Restaurants in Istanbul: I would recommend you Tarihi Kalkanoğlu Pilavcısı and Bodrum Mantı & Cafe Arnavutköy. These restaurants have the top ratings from tourists and known for their amazing food menu as well as their amazing views.

Best Restaurants in Istanbul: I would recommend you Tarihi Kalkanoğlu Pilavcısı and Bodrum Mantı & Cafe Arnavutköy. These restaurants have the top ratings from tourists and known for their amazing food menu as well as their amazing views.

You can try Durum here, which is a slow cooked chicken, lamb, or beef served inside a wrap. It has now become one of my favourite dished which I want everyone should try in Istanbul.

What You Should Never Miss Trying?

Pilav (Pilaf): It’s one of the most basic, sustaining, and comforting of all Turkish dishes, available at Istanbul Pilav Kumpir Waffle. Plain rice cooked in water with butter/vegetable oil and noodle is Pilav. If you are a strict vegetarian, this is one dish you will definitely like and you must try.

Manti, meat-stuffed miniature raviolis! That’s what Manti is– boiled or fried beef/lamb dumplings accompanied by a various range of spices. you must try it with yogurt or butter.

Nusr-Et Steakhouse: You can also try a lot of dishes made up of lamb and beef at Nusr-Et Steakhouse, in Eitler. The place has become an Internet sensation because of the iconic way to cooking and preparing steak and other delectable dishes.
Eitler is the best place to visit for food as you can find more other popular restaurants such as Da Mario and Harvard Café.

Late Night Restaurants in Istanbul:

PePo Cafe and Restaurant– Pepo’s restaurant Instanbul served me and most of the tourists with the most delicious dinner and tea in the city, with a super kind stuff. Really recommended!!

Gulhane Sark Sofrasi – One of the friendliest people, they give raki and tea before. I would definitely recommend this place. Absolutely amazing.

Elenika Restaurant– Delicious food and great atmosphere. The waiters are very professional and helpful. This is a must go place if you are in Istanbul.

~How to Enjoy Istanbul's Nightlife?~

I have heard that the nightlife at Istanbul can compete with the rest of the cultures in this world. Whether you want to attend concerts of popular stars, enjoy live performances while sipping on your favorite drink or attend bachelorette party in open air venues while getting an opportunity to enjoy a rooftop 360 view, visiting Istanbul can provide you an amazing life-experience. In addition to this, Istanbul can be considered as the safer place to go out alone at lounges and pubs, especially for women, during the nights.

How can you have the best moments of your life through Istanbul’s nightlife?

Suada Club: – An island between two continents. Suada club provides a unique beach experience. Suada is an amazing floating club in the Bosporus with a floating Olympic size pool.

X-Large: – An amazing place to Enjoy late night parties starting from 2 am until morning 5 am (on Friday and Saturday late nights).Location: Kallavi Sokak 12, Beyoğlu

Sortie: – It is a party spot which is the combination of 6 unique restaurants and 3 bars.A nightclub which is known for its elite ambiance, attractive views of the city. It is open between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m.Location: 141 Muallim Naci caddesi Kuruçeşme Ortaköy

You can get updated with the upcoming events and shows in Istanbul with this link: http://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowTopic-g293974-i368-k3585106-Of_Interest_to_Istanbul_Visitors-Istanbul.html

~Why Learning Little Turkish is Important?~

Talking with locals in their language are always appreciated. When I was planning to visit Istanbul, I practiced learning few words in Turkish, and that helped me a lot while exploring Istanbul. I want to share these words with their meanings, so that you can also start practicing them for your next trip to Istanbul.

⦁ Merhaba- Hi
⦁ Benim adım Nagham, sizin adınız ne?- My name is Nagham, what is your name?
⦁ Nasılsınız? – How are you?
⦁ İyiyim sağ olun. Siz nasılsınız? – I am fine thank you. How are you?
⦁ Ben de iyiyim, teşekkür ederim. – I am fine too, thank you.
⦁ Nerelisiniz? -Where are you from?
⦁ Ben Jordanliyim. Siz nerelisiniz? – I am from Jordan. Where are you from?
⦁ Kaç yaşındasınız? – How old are you?
⦁ Ben 26 yaşındayım. Siz kaç yaşındasınız? – I am 26 years old. How old are you?
⦁ Ben otuz iki yaşındayım. -I am 32 years old.
⦁ Çalışıyor musunuz? – Do you work?
⦁ Evet çalışıyorum. Ya siz? -Yes i do And you?
⦁ Ben çalışmıyorum. Öğrenciyim. – I dont work. I am a student.
⦁ Çok güzel. -Very good.
⦁ Sizinle tanıştığımıza memnun oldum. – Nice too meet you.
⦁ Ben de memnun oldum. Nice to meet you too.
⦁ Görüşmek üzere. Hoşça kalın. -See you. Bye
⦁ Güle güle. -Bye
⦁ Benimle yemeğe çıkar mısın?(Would you like to go out to dinner with me?)
⦁ Günaydın.- Good morning.-
⦁ İyi günler. -Good afternoon.
⦁ İyi akşamlar. -Good evening.
⦁ İyi geceler.-Good night.

~Planning To Visit Istanbul Along With Your Kids?~

I found Istanbul a quite fun and safe place for even kids as there is a plenty of activities to do, have several exciting theme parks, sightseeing spots, creative work shops and kingdom quest-rides as well. So, now if you want your kids explore this captivating city by their way, then you should definitely plan visiting few hours here and let your kids enjoy their dream world too-

Miniaturk: This is the world’s largest and mind-blowing open-air miniature park, where you can hang out with your kids.

Legoland Discivery Centre: This can be the favourite place for your kids as they can enjoy building walls, houses, tower etc. using miniature things.

Istanbul Dolphinarium: Dolphines are always a cute and most loving aquatic animal for children. And, Istanbul Dolphinaium is the perfect place to make your yung ones delighted watching a stunning dolphin show.

Kidzania is also an amzing activity centre for kids to enjoy learning basic skills. They can learn things being a dentist, a chef, a fighter and more.

Along with this, there is a long list for attractions in Instanbul for kids. Jurassic Land, Antique Toy museum, Rahmi M Koç Museum etc. come under this list.

~What Is The Best Network To Use In Istanbul?~

If you are alone and have only one phone, then buying a mobile SIMcard is a must and the two leader in mobile communication is Vodafone and Turkcell that I have used. While Vodafone is catching up regarding its 4G network coverage, but packages for Turkcell are the best for travelers.
For me, the best Turkey sim card for tourists is Turkcell because-

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⦁ When you buy the Tourist Welcome Pack, you have 20GB internet, 200min. Calls in all directions, unlimited messaging via BiP & Whatsapp valid for 30 days.

Turkcell Data Packages:

Vodafone Data Packages:

Portable Router: If you have multiple devices or you are traveling with group or family so all of you can connect to data using the router, you can preorder it and they will deliver and set it up to you when you arrive at the airport.

⦁ The battery of portable router has an average life of 8 hours depending on the number of devices connected. 10 external devices can connect simultaneously to a Portable router.

⦁ The device connects to a speed of 4g. The download speed is at the maximum limit available which is around 30-40 Mbps.

⦁ You can simply book a device through the link by selecting the period, pick up, and drop off locations you want and completing the payment process.

~What Are The Best Way For Exchange Money In Istanbul?~

Changing cash isn’t going to be a big deal, but finding the best rates might be more challenging. Here, I am telling you the best and safest ways to exchange money in Istanbul:

Sultanhmet: One of the best place for exchanging money can be found in the city center, you may try the exchange shops around Sultanhmet. Sultanhmet is the heart of old Istanbul and considered the the best tourist hub.

~What are the Best Ways of transportation in Istanbul?~

Renting a car can be a very bad choice in Istanbul due to traffic gams , so if your destination is within 30 minutes of walking I recommend you to walk , since Istanbul is walking friendly you won’t be the only one walking if not then I highly recommend you to use Uber certainly is one of the most safe and easy way of transportation , since most of the Turkish people they don’t speak English so using uber will make it faster for you and scam free way of communication, even for your transportation from the airport to the city but make sure you download uber application and register before you travel.

 

The metro system in Istanbul is very good. It has three lines —
M1, Airport—Yenikapi (red), —
M2, Yenikapı—Hacıosman (green) and —
M4, Kadıköy—Kartal (pink).
It’s Price is fixed at 4 TL ($1.3) if you pay by cash, and at 2.3 TL ($0.77) if you pay via Istanbulkart. Istanbul has three tram lines. The Trams’ frequency is every 15 to 20 minutes. To avoid the traffic of the city I’ll suggest you to travel by trams.

Ferryboats: This is the best way of transportation to avoid traffic jams if you want to get from the European side of the city to the Asian side and back.
Also, a good guide on transportation domestically in Turkey you can use are- http://www.neredennereye.com/en/
https://turkeytravelplanner.com/TomsEmail/Testimonials.html

~Free Things to do in Istanbul~

Free Food Tours: Are you foodie like me? Well, there are several food tours in Istanbul you can join at free of cost. whether it is Istanbul evening food walking tour, Istanbul Culinary Tour: Local Tavern and Gourmet Street Foods or Istanbul Evening Sightseeing and Food Tasting Tour, you can book any of them and enjoy tasting some mouth-watering dishes.

Yildiz Park: Now, the another free thing you can do in Istanbul is spending your time a Yildiz Park where you can enjoy tourists scenic footpaths, old Ottoman architecture, duck ponds. I suggest you to arrive early as locals just love whiling away time here.

Salt Galata: You should not miss out visiting Salt Galata if you are looking for free things to do in Istanbul. The place is one of the main tourist attractions because of its outstanding architecture as well as its exhibition and library spaces. Located in a 120-year-old building, this is a vibrant space within a notable location. When I visited there, I found a beautiful research library (free), art gallery (free), café and Ottoman Bank Museum (free). I would say you can spend your all day here.

Bomonti Flea Market: The Bomonti flea market, is the famous choice of the locals. Find almost everything, from vintage cameras to timepieces, vinyl and more, here. You can even sample some delicious local sweets for free.

Fener & Balat Neighbourhoods: Now, if you want to feel the real Istanbul culture, then you must go to Fener and Balat Neighborhoods. It will be more fun to go with your group of friends. You can feel here the contemporary lives of Istanbulites, explore the old-style houses, know the history and interesting architecture.

~Best Photography spots in Istanbul???~

Buyukada is the place if you want to click pictures away from the hustle of the city. It offers a village atmosphere; you will be rewarded by a truly stunning view of the Princes’ Islands.

Karakoy is perfect for photographers looking for a young edgier scene in Istanbul and will be awestruck by the elaborate street art on display.

Maiden’s Tower is one of Istanbul’s most symbolic sights. The tower is on a tiny island in the Bosphorus and is accessible by boat. I recommend you for some unforgettable views and photo opportunities of the sun setting over Istanbul with the Maiden’s Tower in the foreground.

Here is the list of few places that you can consider for have great memories in form of great photographs to put in your Istanbul album:

⦁ Galata Tower
⦁ The Neighborhoods of Fener and Balat
⦁ Church of St. Anthony of Padua
⦁ Yildiz Park
⦁ Fenerbahce Park
⦁ Ortakoy Square
⦁ Pierre Loti Hill
⦁ Camlica Hill

I would say if you are obsssesed with your own looks and wants to adore yourself more at amzing destinbations of Istanbul, then you can go for potography tours such as-
Istanbul Photography Tour, a big city circle discovering gems of Istanbul
Istanbul: Galata Self-guided Photography Audio Tour by VoiceMap etc

If you are also planning your next trip to Istanbul, then I hope this blog would be a help for you to make your trip joyous and memorable. There are a lot of other things to do. And yes, one more thing, you should visit Istanbul during Winters between November and or even I would say mid-February. As per my experience, Istanbul is the city that teaches a lot about human virtues such as brotherhood, compassion, kindness & honor.  Wish you a safe and fantastic journey! You are welcome to comment below and share your experience about your Istanbul trip, its charm and historical attractions.
To learn about my Norway trip, please visit

http://www.nanotraveldiary.com/travel-guide/norway/