A few hours in Istanbul

Oct 7th, 2012, 09:45 AM
  #1  
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A few hours in Istanbul

A change in itinerary has now given me five hours between flights at the Istanbul airport (IST), arriving at 7 PM and departing just after midnight for Johannesburg. All flights are business class (Aeroplan reward). This is Wednesday November 7. I have never been to Turkey before. Is there any reasonable option for leaving the airport to do some sightseeing? For me sightseeing does not have to be grand famous things; it can simply be a chance to walk down a commercial street and observe the passing scene or perhaps a taxi tour. Effectively this is only about two useful hours since I don't wish to cut things too close. My main bag will be checked through but I will have to deal with my carry on since I assume there will be no place to leave it at the airport.

Thanks in advance for your advice.
Gavin is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 11:29 AM
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If you are flying THY both legs, they have a free tour for you if I remember correctly.

Otherwise, your best bet will be to take a taxi to Bakirkoy ferry landing. Take a ferry to Kabatas and then a tram to the historic city where you can see the Blue Mosque (should be open to visitors) and Hagia Sophia and the Hippodrome from the outside.

Another option would be to take a simpler ferry to Kadikoy, or a taxi to Ortakoy which will give you excellent photographic opportunities. I will check ferry schedules from Bakirkoy near the airport and post here. Otherwise a taxi will do, but a limo will be better.
otherchelebi is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 12:24 PM
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Gavin, There are two ferries only 7:30PM and 8:30PM from Bakirkoy to Kadikoy, but they are fast catamarans and you will not get much of a view of the Bosphorus from the fast and enclosed space. However, Kadikoy is a busy shopping area with an interesting restaurant called Ciya Sofrasi (check for it on Trip Advisor) You can return to Eminonu by a small ferry from kadikoy from which you will have a good perspective of the Bosphorus and the major parts of the old and the new city.

from Eminonu a taxi can take you back to the airport within half an hour.

Your other alternative is, as you said, take a taxi or limo to Sultanahmet, the historic area and thence either to Nisantasi the upscale restaurant-cafe area or to Ortakoy on the Bosphorus, and then back.
otherchelebi is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 06:51 PM
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Thank you for the ideas. I now have a better grasp of the geography. Yes I am flying THY on both flights but unfortunately they do not have a tour as late as the time between my flights. It looks like a very nice service the airline offers.

While looking for information about the Turkish Airlines tour I found information about a tour company; I will see what they can do for me.
Gavin is offline  
Dec 16th, 2012, 01:28 PM
  #5  
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I ended up arranging to have a guide meet me at the airport and he drove me around Istanbul for about three hours. Unfortunately it was raining heavily much of that evening but I still got some sense of the city and consider it to have been worthwhile in spite getting a bit wet. I was warned that it can take a long time to clear airport formalities but I was lucky and met my guide only 20 minutes after leaving the plane.
Gavin is offline  
Dec 16th, 2012, 03:43 PM
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Gavin, thanks for reporting.

I am glad you managed to see something of the city despite the rain, and hope you can make it back someday.
otherchelebi is offline  

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