Things To Do In Istanbul - Including Flirting With Cute Turkish Men 

5th Jul 2018

My bestie and I share an intense love for travel. So it is only natural I lure her into accompanying me on my rather spontaneous (and often ill-judged) travel plans, every time the travel bug bites. And guess what? She yields with little resistance every time, being fully aware of the extent of 'crazy' my ideas present. This time, it was Istanbul and I had a whole list of things to do in Istanbul ready to be ticked off!

Things To Do In Istanbul For A Memorable Stay

The plane ride from New Delhi to Istanbul was nothing short of breezy –super comfy seats, a mind-boggling selection of movies and a perfectly cooked steak. The flight attendants were super generous with their wine, until our cups literally runneth over, and we weren't complaining.

We landed in Istanbul Atatürk Airport and hopped on to a bus that dropped us off at the atmospheric and rather touristy Sultanahmet District. As we lugged our bags around, mildly disoriented and trying to take it all in, we realised we were wandering aimlessly, wide-eyed – the quintessentially naive tourists. And just as luck would have it there was a sudden and rather unexpected downpour, soaking us to the bone.

That's when a kind Turkish man, who later became a friend, made an appearance, grabbing our bags, steering us to the closest store. His friend joined us and produced a massive umbrella out of nowhere. "You can take it," he said sympathetically. And that was our first interaction with a local. We were beyond impressed.

After dumping our bags in the hostel, we hurriedly changed into crisp, dry clothes. Thankfully it had stopped raining and after saying a quick 'thank you' to the rain gods, we set out to explore the beautiful city. Afterall, there are lots of things to do in Istanbul, and too little time to cover them all.

Formerly known as Constantinople and before that Byzantium, present-day Istanbul is the perfect blend of conservative and contemporary. Its beauty lies in its ability to wholeheartedly embrace contradictions. This is the land where Islam meets Christianity and Asia meets Europe – fantastic collision of the East and West, a result of which is a vibrant city full of character and intriguing stories.

Apart from the obvious beauty of Istanbul, what struck us most was how sweet and trusting the locals were. This is the part where I have to mention we were left a tad flustered by the brazen yet innocent advances of some Turkish men, who were nowhere close to being even remotely shy! My friend and I, unfamiliar with such forwardness couldn't help but blush every time a tall, dark exotic looking local attempted to charm us – and boy did they! We eventually figured out, it was their way of being friendly, hospitable and flirtatious, all at once!

Anyway, before I digress again, let's talk about what makes Istanbul one of the most remarkable places in the world and why you should visit and, most importantly, what are the things to do in Istanbul to make the most of your trip!

Sultanahmet Square is a delightful hub for tourists. Abuzz with all kinds of activity and food options – from cute little coffee shops and kebab corners to vendors selling Turkish street foods like pide (wheat bread with a stuffing), simit (Turkish bagel) and kokoreç (a unique looking meat sandwich), you could spend hours here. If you're interested in street shopping, this is the place for you. From shops selling bags, trinkets, to cute little souvenirs, every shopping whim of yours will be catered to.

But most importantly, Sultanahmet is most convenient for tourists as it has all the top attractions (Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome and a few others) within close proximity.

This Baroque style architecture of this sprawling palace was nothing short of awe-inspiring. The Topkapi Palace was the royal home of Ottoman emperors nearly 400 years and also served as their administrative headquarters. It had an Imperial Harem which consisted of nearly 400 rooms and was home to the sultan's mother, wives and concubines.

Entry fee: 40 Turkish Lira (TL) or ₹598

Visit hours: 9am to 6:45pm (summer), 9am to 4:45pm (winter)

Closed on: Every Tuesday

Photo of Alemdar Mahallesi, Basilica Cistern, Yerebatan Caddesi, Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey by Pallavi Paul

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Alemdar Mahallesi, Basilica Cistern, Yerebatan Caddesi, Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey by Pallavi Paul

The Basilica Cistern is one of the largest ancient cisterns that lies under the city and visiting it is one of the collest things to do in Istanbul. Built in the 6th century during the reign of the Byzantine Empire, there is something eerily beautiful about this cool, dimly lit and unusually quiet cistern. Make sure to check out the two sinister looking Medusa heads silently watching over this underground reservoir. The 1963 James Bond movie From Russia with Love was shot here.

Entry fee: 20 TL or ₹298

Visit hours: 9am to 7pm (summer),/ 9am to 4pm (winter).

Closed on: Open every day

Credits: David Spender

Photo of Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Hagia Sophia Museum, Ayasofya Meydanı, Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey by Pallavi Paul

This is undeniably one of the greatest historical monuments of the world and the most important structures constructed during the Byzantine Empire, in the 6th century. With its perfectly-shaped dome, this beautiful monument was built as a cathedral in Constantinople (also known as the Church of the Holy Wisdom or Church of the Divine Wisdom), and is now a museum. Your list of things to do in Istanbul will be incomplete without this one.

Entry fee: 30 TL or ₹448

Visit hours: 9am to 7pm (summer), 9am to 5pm (winter).

Closed on: Every Monday

Photo of Vişnezade Mahallesi, Dolmabahçe Palace, Dolmabahçe Caddesi, Beşiktaş/Istanbul, Turkey by Pallavi Paul

This is undeniably one of the most glamourous and opulent palaces in the world and a true representation of the convergence of Islamic and European architecture. Traditionalists may scoff at the apparent lack of authenticity of this lavish structure but nothing can take away from the love and hard work that has gone into constructing this intricate wonder.

Entry fee: 30 TL or ₹448

Visit hours: 9am to 4pm

Closed on: Every Monday and Thursday.

Sail in the Bosporous

Photo of Ortaköy Mahallesi, Bosphorus Bridge, Beşiktaş/Istanbul, Turkey by Pallavi Paul
Photo of Ortaköy Mahallesi, Bosphorus Bridge, Beşiktaş/Istanbul, Turkey by Pallavi Paul

This was most definitely the highlight of our trip – sailing on the mysterious dark blue waters of the Bosporous Strait. This waterway forms the boundary between Asia and Europe and separates Asian Turkey from European Turkey! It was overwhelming to actually see both continents on either side, at the same time! Funnily the buildings and infrastructure on the Asian side seemed to differ from those on the European side, symbolic of the economic differences between both continents. This is one of the best things to do in Istanbul for anyone who loves studying culture.

So there it is guys, a list of the places we visited during the two days we were in Istanbul, after which we set off on a new adventure! I hope this list has inspired you to (occasionally) succumb to the travel bug and do some travelling of your ow. Go sight see and learn about the history and culture of new places, let yourself be floored by cute Turkish boys, shop till you drop, as long as you make some wonderful memories. Remember, travelling is one of the greatest ways to grow and learn about the world, so let it humble you (and your friends, if you convince them to come along!).

Have you gone on an international trip with a friend, if so, where? And if you have your own list of things to do in Istanbul, tell us that too. Tell Tripoto all about your experience and help a growing community of travellers plan their next vacation!

Also, make sure to check out Tripoto's YouTube channel for some super cool travel videos and updates.

All pictures are taken by me, unless mentioned otherwise, and cannot be reproduced without my permission.

Frequent Searches Leading To This Page:-

best turkey holiday packages, weekend in turkey days, turkey local tour, chip holiday to turkey, weekend getaway in turkey, turkey tour packages from Ahmadabad