Istanbul/itinerary

Apr 29th, 2014, 07:42 PM
  #1  
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Istanbul/itinerary

Hi there,

Can anyone chime in on an itinerary plan for five days in istanbul - and is there a diff between the two airports - is one or the other better to fly in/out of. Hotel suggestions would also be appreciated

thanks
jelsbells is offline  
Apr 29th, 2014, 07:57 PM
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Ataturk is much closer to the tourist sites in Istabul. Sabitha Gochen is far out of town on the Asian side but there is a bus to Taksim Square and you can take a taxi from Taksim when you get off the bus there.

For expert advice on Turkey travel, check turkeytravelplanner.com. I have used it for both my 2011 trip to Turkey and to plan my time there during the summer of 2014. Great site.

An entire day should be planned to see everything at the Tokapi Palace. The package tours that you take usually do not go into the harem area or to the museum where you see the dagger. The other place I would not miss is Hagia Sophia. The famed mosaics of Jesus that you see all over are upstairs (don't forget to go there) and very small.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Apr 29th, 2014, 07:58 PM
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Sorry, I forgot to add: I do trips via home exchange, so I can't help you with hotels. I hardly ever stay in them!
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Apr 29th, 2014, 08:05 PM
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Where will you flying from and where are you going to when you leave IST? There are many discount airlines that you may want to explore.
How much do you want to spend on a hotel?
We spent far less than an entire day at Tokapi Palace. Agree to definitely visit the Harem. Hagia Sophia is wonderful and the Chora is worth a visit.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2014, 10:32 PM
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the Rick Steves Istanbul is a good guide that will make suggestions on spending your days in Istanbul.
Michael is offline  
Apr 29th, 2014, 11:17 PM
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for sure... trip on the water to see the lovely architecture... of course the mosques and topkapi... best cup of coffee on our trip was at mandabatmaz (see tripadvisor reviews)...

we stayed in 3 different hotels... the best with an elevator was ther 'erboy' the worst was on the rick steves portion of our trip, 'azade hotel' and we loved our water view at the very inexpensive and super basic 'cosmopolitan park hotel'.

ataturk is very easy... and erboy picked us up on our arrival, for a very good price. (or maybe it was included in our room rate because we stayed 3+ days)

what specifics do you want?
kawh is offline  
Apr 29th, 2014, 11:36 PM
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A taxi from Ataturk is about 50TL or $25 to the tourist area of Istanbul. The Chora Church is very spectacular but you might not have time with only 5 days (and because it is difficult to get to). The last time I took a day excursion to the Black Sea on the Bosphorus--which I loved. I loved it so much, I'll be doing it again.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Apr 30th, 2014, 12:26 AM
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An excellent way to see some great sights from a different angle is on the public ferry between Eminonu (by Galata Bridge) and Kadikoy. The trip takes about 25 minutes and you'll be able to appreciate the sheer size of one one of the world's great cities.

Kadikoy is on the Asian side, and is much less touristy than Sultanahmet and Taksim, and is well worth a wander round.
LancasterLad is offline  
Apr 30th, 2014, 12:57 AM
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I spent about 4.5 days in Istanbul, covering a majority of the important sites, experiences, doing a litle off beat stuff, going on the Bosporus cruise etc.
You can have a loot at my itinerary here: http://ashwinbahulkar.wordpress.com/...s-in-istanbul/
I haven't stayed here, but Lady Diana has the best views of the Blue Mosque, do have a look, or atleast go to their restaurant in the evening.
ashwinb is offline  
Apr 30th, 2014, 03:34 AM
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We stayed at the Uyan right next to Lady Diana, again gorgeous views of the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya from the terrace restaurant, we'll be staying there again this June. Do try and visit the Chora church for the exquisite mosaics, get to Topkapi as they open in the morning and head straight to the harem, we spent about four hours there.
geetika is offline  
Apr 30th, 2014, 04:53 AM
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After our first trip to Istanbul in 2009 [4 times since then] I posted this trip report on Trip Advisor...

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTop...-Istanbul.html

...and it became quite an enduring thread. It won't suit all, as me and OH are strictly budget travellers.

There's also heaps of Istanbul trip reporting stuff on this thread...

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTop...-Istanbul.html
LancasterLad is offline  
Apr 30th, 2014, 12:22 PM
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Istanbul in my opinion is the most enchanting city in Europe. It is so rich in culture, and the only city in the world always been an Imperial Capital, either of the Roman, Byzantine, or Ottoman Empire.

As you understand it is impossible to see Istanbul in just 5 days, but you can see the highlights.

The last time i have been in Istanbul, I have done the following Itinerary, which I highly recommend:

DAY 1

(A)Topkapi Sarayi, the Imperial Palace of the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years.
(B)Hagia Sophia, the Wonder of Constantinople the heart of the Byzantine Empire and the Christian World for 1000 years. Entering for the first time in the "Great Church" from the Emperors Gate is an unforgetable moment.
(C)Basilica Cistern, it used to store water for the Mega Palation of the Byzantine Emperors, it is consisted of 332 Columns, and thats why the Turks call it the Underwater Palace.
(D)Sultanahmet Köftecisi, a very famous eatery since 1920, order ızgara köfte or grilled meatballs.
(E)Blue Mosque, the most famous Mosque of Istanbul, the Iznik Marbles are fascinating.

DAY 2

(A)Yeni Cami, a famous interesting Mosque.
(B)Egyptian Bazaar, the colorful spice bazaar of Istanbul.
(C)Şehzade Erzurum Cağ Kebabı, a local eatary which serves a great kebab dish.
(D)Archaeology Museum, a rich museum with important Greek antiquities and Byzantine reliefs.
(E)Rüstem Paşa Camii, a small picturesque famous Mosque.

DAY 3

(A)Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Holy See of the Orthodox World since 330 its original Headquarters is the Hagia Sophia, till The Fall, when it moved to Hagios Georgios Church, yet the Patriarch has the same Universal Power and Influence in the Orthodox World, the equivalent of the Catholic Pope.
(B)Phanar Greek Orthodox College, the oldest School of Istanbul since 1454, its an iconic building of Istanbul, the Turks call it "The Red Castle".
(C)Pammakaristos Church, a beautiful Byzantine Church with interesting gold mosaics.
(D)Chora Church, a fasinating Byzantine Church, with incredible mosaics, one of the very few non heavily vandalized by the Turks Byzantine Church.
(E)Take a Trip to the Asian Side of Istanbul, eat in Ciya Sofrasi, and return to the Old City by boat for great views.

4 DAY
(A)Süleymaniye Mosque, a masterpiece of Ottoman Architecture, built by Mimar Sinan, the Michelangelo of the Turks.
(B)Büyük Valide Han, a charming Ottoman Medieval Han built by the Mother of Sultan (Valide), which used to be a Hotel for Caravans from the East, today it houses traditional workshops, in which you can buy real, original, handmade silverware. Very few tourists know its existence. A Personal experience, an old man was standing outside his workshop and when he saw us he started talking to us in turkish, we spoke with him in very poor Turkish and alot of Bodytalk, we told him we were Greeks, he smiled and said his Grandfather was from Thessaloniki, he took us to the roof of the Han, the view was incredible, you could see Bosphorus, Pera, Yeni Camii, everything from up there, and he told us to wait 15' to hear the Muezzin call for pray, as he does every day. After 15' every Minaret of Istanbul was calling, creating a surreal mystic Atmosphere, it was an unforgetable experience.
(C)Büyük Yeni Han, another old Han nextdoor.
(D)Grand Bazaar, a true wonder of Istanbul, buy some great carpets and don't even think of buying without bargain.
(E)Kara Mehmet Kebap Salonu, a good kebab house in the Grand Bazaar.

5 DAY
Stroll the Pera Neighborhood, the heart of Modern and Boheme Istanbul, the Old Greek/European Quarter of the City, stroll the Taksim, buy Antiques in Çukurcuma neighborhood, get on the top of the Galata Tower, eat in a classic lokanta like "Kebabçı Enver Usta', have some baklava in "Güllüoğlu" or some profiterol in "Inci Pastanesi".
PetrosB3 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2014, 06:12 PM
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WOW THANK YOU
jelsbells is offline  
Apr 30th, 2014, 11:35 PM
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Yep, 5 days doesn't even scratch the surface of Istanbul. It's massive, and every area is completely different. Awesome destination!
LancasterLad is offline  
May 1st, 2014, 09:54 PM
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That's an awesome itinerary, PetrosB3.
ashwinb is offline  
May 1st, 2014, 11:04 PM
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@PetrosB3<<>>

Seconded. The Ciya Sofrasi is in Kadikoy.

Kadikoy is easy to reach by public ferry from Eminonu, and is a lovely vibrant town, well away from the tourist crowds. Just buy a jeton and jump aboard for a great scenic trip. Great Youtube video here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amax7QsIvII

Somewhere else that escapes the itinerary for most visitors is the Florence Nightingale Museum at Uskudar, close to Kadikoy...

http://www.florence-nightingale.co.u...-barracks.html
Takes a bit of planning, but is doable.
LancasterLad is offline  
May 1st, 2014, 11:12 PM
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Think twice before buying an ice cream in Istanbul though...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clHxNKCsi0s

*Caution: a naughty word or two in the comments below the video*
LancasterLad is offline  
May 2nd, 2014, 01:46 AM
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LOL re Turkish ice cream. I don't like it either. And thanks for the suggestion about the Florence Nightingale Museum. Definitely plan on going there this trip now that I know about it.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
May 2nd, 2014, 03:56 AM
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General points

1. There isn't much to see in the new town. Both Taksim Square and İstiklal Avenue are complete wastes of time.

2. Sabitha Gochen is much further away. But flying out of there you got over Istanbul and get a spectacular view and can see how the geography made it a fortress.

3. The full Black Sea trip is overkill since you are stuck in some little town for 3 hours. Get off at last stop on the European side and take the bus back.

4. Always count your change. Getting short changed is *very* common.

5. Be prepare to be constantly harassed anytime you walk within 50 feet of a store of any kind. It really gets to you after a short while.

6. Be prepared to be wakened at 5 AM everyday.

Specific

1. Go to Topkapi first thing in the morning and head straight to the treasure room. Why? It fills overflowing with tourists by mid morning, so get it out of the way first.

2. The Chora Church is a must see. Aside from a few mosaics in Hagia Sofia, it is all that is visible of the Byzantine Empire. It isn't far by taxi, and taxi's are very cheap in Istanbul, if you get an honest one. As a bonus, Chora is right next a piece of the city wall. You can see why they kept invaders out for so long.

3. Rüstem Paşa Mosque is one of the top sites and a certain don't miss. It is however, a bit hard to find - just a doorway on a shopping street

4. The Grand Baazar and Spice Market are nothing but big flea markets and barely worth a walk through. Yeah, they are big, but more junk is just more junk.

5. The Ciya Sofrasi is absurdly overrated. It's not worth the trip by itself, but the ferry ride over to Kadikoy is nice. Seeing the city from the water gives you a whole different view. If you do go, be aware that it is very hard to find and that there are 2 Ciya Sofrasi restuarant a couple blocks apart. It's easy to go to the wrong one.

6. Eating in Istanbul is fairly poor overall. You won't starve and the food isn't terrible, but it's not great either. It's mostly blah middle eastern. Real Ottomoan cooking is hard to find, but it isn't all that great either. It's very weird stuff.

7. "LOL re Turkish ice cream. I don't like it either." Agree.

8. Google maps are useless for Istanbul. They many many errors.

9. Have dinner at one of the rooftop restaurants in Sultanahmet for a great view. The Seven Seas has the best view, although the food is mediocre.

10. "Yep, 5 days doesn't even scratch the surface of Istanbul." Nonsense. Five days is plenty. There isn't much of major interest outside of Sultanahment, a Boshorus cruise and a quick peek at the Asian side. The people who think that you see every nook and cranny must have infinite amounts of travel time and money. Threads like this also tend to pull in people who Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuv the place. This is not a representative sample. The reality is that diminishing returns sets in quickly when you travel. In Istanbul, it sets in well before 5 days.
1hughes is offline  
May 2nd, 2014, 06:01 AM
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<<<1. There isn't much to see in the new town. Both Taksim Square and İstiklal Avenue are complete wastes of time.>>>

No traffic, apart for the vintage tram. That's a good start. Loads to catch the eye as you wander up and down, or on the adjacent lanes.

<<<2. Sabitha Gochen is much further away. But flying out of there you got over Istanbul and get a spectacular view and can see how the geography made it a fortress.>>>

Not if you're flying down to Antalya you don't. But on a clear day the views on the short trip down to the Mediterranean coast are A1, and alone worth the air fare. It's also easy to be downtown from SAW in about 90 minutes by public bus from just outside Arrivals. It quickly gets to Kadikoy. Ferry to Eminonu, and then tram to Sultanahmet or Taksim. Total cost is about 8TL, but not advisable if you're overburdened with luggage.

<<<3. The full Black Sea trip is overkill since you are stuck in some little town for 3 hours. Get off at last stop on the European side and take the bus back.>>>

Agree. The cruise is often jam packed with long lensed camera clickers, who are forever invading you're own little bit of space. It can get v.cold on the way back too.

<<<4. Always count your change. Getting short changed is *very* common.>>>

Agree. Getting an itemised bill ain't that easy either.

<<<5. Be prepare to be constantly harassed anytime you walk within 50 feet of a store of any kind. It really gets to you after a short while.>>>

Agree. Get away from the tourist hordes. Doesn't happen in Kadikoy.

<<<6. Be prepared to be wakened at 5 AM everyday.>>>

Join in your own words. 4 years in Saudi Arabia gave me plenty of practice.

Specific

<<<1. Go to Topkapi first thing in the morning and head straight to the treasure room. Why? It fills overflowing with tourists by mid morning, so get it out of the way first.>>>

Agree. Or visit lesser known, off the beaten track places instead.

<<<2. The Chora Church is a must see. Aside from a few mosaics in Hagia Sofia, it is all that is visible of the Byzantine Empire. It isn't far by taxi, and taxi's are very cheap in Istanbul, if you get an honest one. As a bonus, Chora is right next a piece of the city wall. You can see why they kept invaders out for so long.>>>

Never been, and it's not on my wish-list.

<<<3. Rüstem Paşa Mosque is one of the top sites and a certain don't miss. It is however, a bit hard to find - just a doorway on a shopping street>>>

If it's in the Guide Book, then surely it's a must-see (lol)!

<<<4. The Grand Baazar and Spice Market are nothing but big flea markets and barely worth a walk through. Yeah, they are big, but more junk is just more junk.>>>

Avoid these places when there are big cruise ships alongside. The sight of tour groups make me turn round pdq.

<<<5. The Ciya Sofrasi is absurdly overrated. It's not worth the trip by itself, but the ferry ride over to Kadikoy is nice. Seeing the city from the water gives you a whole different view. If you do go, be aware that it is very hard to find and that there are 2 Ciya Sofrasi restuarant a couple blocks apart. It's easy to go to the wrong one.>>>

I've walked past it several times. It looks alright, but my budget only runs to a kebap and fries

<<<6. Eating in Istanbul is fairly poor overall. You won't starve and the food isn't terrible, but it's not great either. It's mostly blah middle eastern. Real Ottomoan cooking is hard to find, but it isn't all that great either. It's very weird stuff.>>>

Agree I think. The kebaps are nice though, with a fresh fruit drink chaser.

<<<7. "LOL re Turkish ice cream. I don't like it either." Agree.>>>

Ice creams are a luxury item.

<<<8. Google maps are useless for Istanbul. They many many errors.>>>

A good Guide Book usually does the trick.

<<<9. Have dinner at one of the rooftop restaurants in Sultanahmet for a great view. The Seven Seas has the best view, although the food is mediocre.>>>

The Hanedan is our favourite budget roof terrace, but only for the included Turkish breakfast...

http://www.hanedanhotel.com/gallery.htm

<<<10. "Yep, 5 days doesn't even scratch the surface of Istanbul." Nonsense. Five days is plenty. There isn't much of major interest outside of Sultanahment, a Boshorus cruise and a quick peek at the Asian side. The people who think that you see every nook and cranny must have infinite amounts of travel time and money. Threads like this also tend to pull in people who Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuv the place. This is not a representative sample. The reality is that diminishing returns sets in quickly when you travel. In Istanbul, it sets in well before 5 days.>>>

Horses for courses, there's loads to see. Most of it without queues to get in, and that cost little to nothing.
LancasterLad is offline  

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