Istanbul is a dream destination; it’s located in the edge of Europe where east meets west. Connecting the two continents, the city hides layers of history, culture, colors and scents. The architecture, the food, everything in Istanbul tells a story. The city is busy, fast, never stops, but when you need a break from all this fervid life there is always a nice garden, a small tea house or a mosque where you can seat, breath and relax.
You will be enchanted by the beauty of Turkey and its people. As much as you discover the city more you fall in love with Istanbul
How Long in Istanbul is a Good Time to Explore the City?
For your first trip to Istanbul I would recommend at least five days, so you can have the taste of the ancient city and also enjoy the modern side of Istanbul. If you want to explore the big cities and the countryside, I´d say you should book a 10 days holiday minimum.
What would be the Total Cost for a Trip to Istanbul?
Istanbul is huge, there are 15 million people living there. The city is as big as any other capital, however Turkey is a cheap destination if you compare with other countries. With a good travel planning I’m sure you’ll enjoy your first trip to Istanbul without emptying your pocket. A 7 day package would cost you approx. 2000 AED including flights and hotels. Sounds good, isn’t it?
Arriving and departing from Istanbul
You can travel to Istanbul by bus, train, boat or flights, the best option will depend on where you are coming from. All the major budget airlines fly to Ataturk and Sabiha Airport. Turkish Airlines connects the soul of Turkey to the world. If you are searching for some unique experience you can travel to Istanbul by train if you are a resident of a nearby country.
Turkey Visit or Travel Visa Requirements
As you are travelling to a different country you always have to do a good research about visa and the documents you will need to cross the border. You have online Turkey Visit Visa application.
Note: Kuwait citizens can travel visa free to Turkey.
Where to Stay?
Istanbul is full of hotels, hostels, guest houses and flats – from cheap accommodation to luxury stays.
The areas that are nice to stay are: Sultanahmet, Beyoglu and Taksim. All them are surrounded by restaurants, street food and are safe place to stay.
Hotels we recommend around Sultanahmet:
Green Life Apart HotelH
Ada Hotel Istanbul
Hotels that we recommend around Beyoglu:
Next House Pera Hotel
Georges Hotel Galata
Some of the hotels in Taksim area
Nuru ziya suites
What to Do in Istanbul?
Istanbul is plenty of tourist attractions, from ancient ruins, palaces, worldwide famous mosques, narghile bars and endless shops inside the Grand Bazaar. So many things to do and see that you will need time and energy to visit it all. To help you to organize your first trip to Istanbul here goes a list of some places you should not miss.
- Blue Mosque
- Hagia Sophia
- Topkapı Palace
- Basilica Cistern
- Grand Bazaar
- Spice Bazaar
- Suleymaniye Mosque
- Galata Tower
- Dolmabahçe Palace
- Taksim Square and İstiklal Ave
- Bosphorus Boat Tour
- Ortaköy neighborhood
- Sunset at Uskudar
How to get around?
As soon as you arrive in the city, buy an Istanbul Card in one of the automatic machines. This card is accepted in all public transports even on the boats. Cheaper than the single journey ticket (jeton), you can top up the card with any amount of money you want.
Most of the places and tourist attraction in Istanbul can be reached by public transport, especially by tram, metro, boats and funicular (buses can be a bit complicated to use there). But I would suggest you to walk as much as possible. It’s an amazing city, with great architecture and hidden places. Exploring the city by foot is a unique opportunity to meet locals and enjoy the real Turkish feeling.
If you need to use Taxi, make sure the meter is on and don’t accept flat rates to go to the tourists attractions. For sure they will charge you far more than it´s worth. Also from Ataturk airport you can reach the city using public transportation. Bus shuttle to/from both airports to city centre are offered by Havatas.
The Turkish Cuisine
Istanbul is the paradise of food, sweets and teas. The streets are packed with kebab stalls, cozy restaurants, teas and coffee shops. There are so many flavors, spices, ingredients that Turkish food would deserve one entire and delicious post.
One thing you have to keep in mind is: Try Everything!! Food is not expensive in Turkey, even in a nice restaurant in Istanbul you would not pay a fortune for a good meal. Local dinners can be found around Taksim Square and at Istiklal Street. Go to the Turkish buffet restaurants to see and try different dishes. As dessert the traditional baklava with ice cream or some Turkish delights are a must.
Things to Note
It’s quite safe. There are quite a few number of beggars on the streets, but most of the time they will not cause any harm to you. Because of the conflicts in the Middle East many refugees are living on the street.
There is an area around Tarlabasi Street, close to the Taksim Square, that is known for being a place of drug dealers, prostitutes and danger. So please avoid that to go there especially during night time.
Now that you already got these precious advice it’s time to enjoy your first trip to this magnanimous city. If you didn’t buy your tickets yet, do it fast.