11 things you should experience in Istanbul
Istanbul is historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium. Backpacking in Istanbul is not difficult at all, in fact, I’ve met a lot of female solo travelers from all around the world when I was traveling throughout Turkey. It is one of the safest and cheapest region in the world to travel to!
1. Visit a Palace
Check out both Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahce palace if you have time. Ticket costs 40 lira, but once you are in, you will be overwhelmed with the number of rooms, halls, treasure collections and beautiful gardens.
Tips: Buying tickets online as it is cheaper and saves time. Entrance to the Harem is not included in general admission tickets. Stay for at least a half day, do not rush it. Go to Konyali Lokantasi for a delicious buffet lunch. The view from their terrace is one of the best in the city.
2. Try Kebab
3. Visit a Mosque
4. Basilica Cistern
5. It’s time to Haggle
Spice Bazaar: A wonderland for foodies, especially those on a shoestring budget. Come here to get introduced to Turkish culture via the sense of smell and taste!
The goods in both bazaar do not have price tags on them, so don’t be shy to haggle!
6. Modern Taksim Square
Here you’ll get a change of tune which will be completely different from the historic side of Istanbul. Taksim is a modern district, you will never run out of things to do, and you can never expect what comes next. In the summer, enjoy a free concerts in Taksim, and join one of the many events organized in the Square and under the Galata Tower. Do not miss a chance to ride in a Teleferik (Cable Car)! You can also score a discount ticket for the Whirling Dervishes here!
7. Affordable luxury on a Bosphorus cruise
What a great way to explore both the European and the Asian side along the water. A Bosphoris cruise ferries you pass the marvelous Dolmabahçe Palace; Ciragan Palace; Ortakoy Mosque, Beylerbeyi Palace and many more. A 2 hours cruise run by the state cost about 10 TL per person, cruises by private companies cost more.
8. Catch sunset at the Galata bridge
9. Watch the Whirling Dervishes
A discount ticket can be bought in Taksi. Then walk about 4 minutes down from the Galata Tower to the Galata Mevlevi Lodge, where the Whirling Dervishes perform every evening.
10. Baclavas and Turkish Delights
11. Enjoy a relaxing Hamam Bath
Just like how Tang (Japanese hot spring bath) is a must in Japan, hamam (Turkish bath) is another experience you can’t do without! Add scrubbing and massage to your experience, if you are looking for a complete “package”. I reccomend Buyuk Hamam (full session +massage and scrub) 35 TL (at least 30 TL cheaper than others)