With autumn just around the corner, this is one of the best times of year to travel to many destinations across Europe, and Istanbul, Turkey is no exception. This fascinating city is filled with stunning architecture and beautiful natural landscapes as well as many historical sites as the former capital of three empires, Roman Byzantine and Ottoman.
Fall in Istanbul provides a relief from extreme summer heat and a respite from the bitter cold winds of winter; in September and October accommodations are often easier to find and at a much lower cost as well.
Getting around Istanbul
With so much to do right in the city, there is really no reason to rent a car. Public transportation is plentiful with taxis readily available as well as buses, trams and ferries. The dolmus are a cross between a bus and taxi, and for around 2€ they are cheaper than a taxi and more convenient than the bus, serving the most popular routes in Istanbul.
Where to stay
For the ultimate cultural experience, as well as budget accommodation, consider Couch Surfing. You’ll find a wide variety of warm and welcoming local people here offering their home to you, asking only for an exchange of experiences and perhaps friendship.
Marmara Guesthouse also provides charming accommodations overlooking the Bosphorus and Marmara Sea. It is run by a Turkish family right in the heart of Istanbul, with rates as low as 35€ including Turkish breakfast.
What to do
There is so much to do in Istanbul, you’ll likely have to plan for a return trip. The difficult decision is in prioritizing it all.
• The Grand Bazaar is nearly always mentioned on every traveler’s to-do list, and should be visited at least once. It is one of the world’s largest covered marketplaces and spread out over 50 city streeets.
• The Istanbul Archaelogy Museum was the first museum in the nation, founded over 120 years ago. Home to Greek, Roman and Byzantine artifacts, including the not-to-be-missed Alexander Sarcophagus, this is a perfect place to not only get away from the crowds but learn a little about the history of the city.
• The Blue Mosque. Arrive early to this popular attraction. For a much more enjoyable experience plan to visit between the dawn and mid-day prayer times.
• Aya Sofya is a stunning building that provides an emotionally moving experience- the original building was built in the sixth century.
Traditional Turkish fare includes kebabs- with a wide variety of twists on the dish typically including plain or marinated meat. Borek is also commonly found as well as delicious, it is a pie made with a flaky, mouth-watering crust and filled with meat, cheese or potatoes.
Don’t miss Balikci Sabahattin, located in a 1927 wooden townhouse. This restaurant offers outdoor dining and is run by a family that “knows the sea.” Here you’ll find fresh seafood including jumbo shrimp and Calamari as well as delectable deserts.
The outdoor cafes in Istanbul are a perfect place to sip the famed, and wonderful, Turkish coffee while enjoy breathtaking views of this ancient city.
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