5 days in Istanbul

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Hey everyone! I just realized, I talk soooo much about Istanbul on my social media but never made a big post about it! So I am gonna share with you what we did in this amazing city for 5 days. I have already been a few times in Istanbul, so I knew where to go, what to do, how to get around. I will also share all the answers to the questions that I received throughout the years.
The most frequent question I got asked is: is it safe? Let me tell you something: YESSSS, it definiely is! I always say the same, the probability of one individual to be in a terrorist attack in a big city as Istanbul (15 million people!!!) is so small! The chance of anyone being in a car accident is bigger, or being in a gun shooting in USA is so much bigger, yet I never heard anyone complain about weather they should go to USA or not, since they might be shot. Also, lots of people ask me if it is safe to travel to Turkey alone as a girl. I think as long as we respect their traditions and don't do anything crazy, we are safe. Of course there will be men staring and saying some things to you, but let's be honest, that happens everywhere in the world!

If you are thinking of visiting, you will probably arrive to either Atatürk Airport or Sabiha Gökcen Airport. The biggest mistake tourist do is get into a taxi, and this city is "famous" for its overpriced taxis. From both airports you can take a shuttle bus, they are usually right at the exit. Just ask for Havabus, you can choose from two destinations: Taksim Square or Kadiköy. If your hotel/hostel is on Europe side, go to Taksim, if it's on Asian side, choose Kadiköy. From here, you can use public transport, which is so-so-so easy to use. You need an Istanbul card (10 TL = 2 euros), put some money on it (the two of us used around 50 TL in 5 days, since we walked a lot). Fares are around 2-4 TL, you can use it on buses, trams, metro, funicular and even boats. Public transports are running til 12 o'clock at night, if you arrive later, use the app BiTaksi (similar to Uber) to get around!
For hotel/hostel I always use Booking, and try to find a place that is closer to everything I wanna visit, so I don't have to pay too much and spend a lot of time on public transport. This time I found a really nice hotel close to the Galata tower, Mola Galata . I was a bit nervous when I booked it cuz it didn't have any reviews (they just opened) but the pictures looked amazing. It turned out to be the best decision! The staff is so friendly, speak good English and what surprised me is that they called me before my trip to ask me if I need any help with getting around Istanbul or do I need a taxi to airport. Also, the place looks so chic plus breakfast in included in price!

A lot of people have asked about how I handle money abroad. Turkey is an amazing country because you can use your card in every small shop, even for a few TL! So I always suggest people to just withdraw some money at airport or at ATM (funny how in Turkey you cannot find just one ATM but at least 5-6 ATMs next to each other from different banks) and use your money from card wherever you can! Also, be sure to ask your hotel if you can pay with card or only cash!

Another app you should download (not only when traveling in Turkey) is maps.me. It is a free offline map, which you can use without internet to get around! You just need to download the maps of the cities beforehand. What I usually do is put pins in the map to places I really wanna visit (pin my hotel location with different color and bus/train stations if I need them with a third color) and I plan my days divided in "sections".


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FIRST DAY we did the Sultanahmet region, aka the typical tourist part of the city. If you wanna visit Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace (also the Harem inside of it) it is a good idea to buy the Museum Card which has many other museums included. It costs 135 TL and you have to use it in 5 days! We did the Hagia Sophia first (to avoid the big line), went to Topkapi sarayi afterwards. Be careful, you need at least 3-4 hours inside! It is so big and full of beautiful places, you will want to take a photo of all the Iznik tiles! We were quite hungry, so we ate inside at the restaurant (Konyali restaurant). It is quite pricey (compared to other places), but you cannot beat the view! Also, the food and service was amazing. After lunch, we went to Basilica Cistern (it is NOT included in the Museum Card), entry fee is 20 TL, and entered the Blue Mosque last, because it is open longer time. Unfortunately it is under construction, so you can only see a small part of it.
I saw so many amazing pictures from a place called Seven Hills, which is right in this region, so we went there for some ice-cream and turkish coffee! It has a view over both Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque! We finished the day with a big walk on Kennedy street and took a ferry to Kadiköy to see the sunset over the European side!


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We started the SECOND DAY at Galata tower (not included in Museum Card) and walked around in this part of the city. It has so many original and unique boutiques, so just ditch the map and "get lost" on the small streets. Close to the tower is the Istiklal street, the famous shopping street with the cute red tram. Don't forget to check out the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, largest church in Istanbul, situated on this street. We walked til the end of the street, to Taksim square, took the funicular to Karaköy (it's an underground funicular) to go visit Dolmabahce Palace. It is my favorite place in Istanbul, and I always advise all my friends to visit it! It is open from 9 am to 4 pm, but you need around 3-4 hours to visit everything! The regular palace entrance is 60 TL, if you wanna visit the harem is 40 TL and combined ticket is 90 TL. The palace is closed on Mondays and Thursdays, so plan your days ahead! Because we wanted to see more of the city, we walked til Ortaköy, but if you are lazy, you can take a bus!  Be sure to eat kumpir aka the turkish jacket potato and enjoy the view over the bridge!  We ended our day with visiting Süleymaniye mosque, one of the prettiest mosques in Istanbul!

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On THIRD DAY we didn't take too many pictures because we didn't have so much time. We decided to take the Bosphorus hop on hop off tour. It costs 15 TL, departure is from Karaköy or Beșiktaș and it stops in places like Emirgan (where you can visit a beautiful park), Küçüksu Pavilion (a beautiful palace in the same style as Dolmabahce Palace ALSO you can walk to the Anadolu castle) and Beylerbeyi, where you can also check out another palace, but we were late! Every museum is usually open til 4 pm.
Between the two bridges of Bosphorus, in Arnavutköy, are the beautiful wooden mansions. I have never been in this part of the city, but will definitely check it out next time!
After the tour, we went to Nusr-et in Etiler (is quite far away, but I REALLY wanted to go to the first restaurant, we took a bus from Kabatas to Etiler - around 40 min).

27 28 29 30 BeFunky-collage BeFunky-collage (1) We spent the FOURTH DAY on Asian side. I think lots of tourist avoid this part of the city, and I don't understand why!
We started the day with a turkish breakfast in Yumma . Kadiköy is such a beautiful place, I would call it the artsy quarter with colorful murals. Most of my turkish friends say this is their favorite part of Istanbul! We walked over to Üsküdar (quite a long walk - around 6-7 km, you can take a bus if you are too lazy!) another favorite place of mine! When I visited it last years, it was under construction, but now it is finished and looks so amazing! If you go there, be sure to sit down, enjoy a turkish tea and simit next to the Maidens Tower! We decided to take a small boat to the tower, it cost around 20 TL. I didn't expect it to be nice, so I was so amazed when we arrived! It is such a cute place, you can walk all the way up, and read about the different legends surrounding this small tower on every level! Ended the day in Beşiktaş region, where I took my mom to a çiğ köfte place. She loved it!

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On FIFTH DAY we weren't sure what to do, so we just visited some museums that were in the Museum Card - most of them in Sultanahmet region. Had lunch in a really beautiful place (I don't remember the name) and went to see the Macar Kardeşler Caddesi aka the Hungarian Friends Street where I HAD to take a photo with the street sign, hehe. Luckily, this street was right next to the aquaduct my mom wanted to visit as well! We finished the day with the Grand Bazaar (which I really don't like because everyone is catcalling you or inviting you in their shop, you cannot really just do windowshopping without feeling awkward).

I am so sorry for the super long post! I wanted to share with you all the places we visited, and the insider tips for the museums. If you have any questions about Istanbul or Turkey in general, send us a message or comment under the post!

Have an amazing weekend!
Saci 

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3 comments

  1. What a lovely post
    What are you doing for the weekend?

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  2. seems like you had a lovely time in Istanbul!
    thanks for sharing your travelling tips.
    You look great in all these outfits.

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