What NOT to miss in Istanbul? Got tips?

Aug 4th, 2009, 10:51 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 39
What NOT to miss in Istanbul? Got tips?

Two days in Istanbul this September. What MUST we see and do? I know the big food market is a favorite BUT is there something there that's a must-see?

What else and what NOT to waste your time at? Any suggestions as to whom to use for a little tour. Maybe go someplace out the maddening crowds that was remarkable, photogenic, special?

If you have a favorite place to eat, a good tour guide or even a website you liked, would really appreciate your input.

Ciao! (how do they say it in Turkish?).
LongLegs is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 11:11 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,683
1. The mosaics at Chora
2. Topkapi Palas and Harem
3. Dolmahbache Palas and Harem
4. Hagia Sophia
5. Walk on Istiklal Caddessi
6. Grand Bazaar

A great place to eat is in the garden of Yesil Ev in Sultanahmet or the patio of Mavi Ev with views of the Blue Mosque across the street.

Divan in Ortakoy is also a great restaurant.

Most hotels in Istanbul have info on tours and can arrange them for you.

Thin
Cries_Van_Notebook is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 11:24 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,525
I also liked the Archeological Museum, located beside Topkapi. Blue Mosque is also interesting, and really enjoyed the Cistern. Note that a lot of these sites are all in the same vicinity, so access is quite easy. There is a nice restaurant on the square in front of Hagia Sofia, to your left as you look at the Blue Mosque. There is also a hamman that is recommended in guide books near this area..

We missed, but would have liked, a ferry trip on the Bosphorus.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 06:16 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 39
Wonderful... keep 'em coming!! I will look up all these places. Any priority on order?
LongLegs is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 07:31 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,889
I endorse everything that Cries recommended, plus the spice market and a Bosphorus trip. The major sites are close together and easy to see in two days if you stay in the old city. Istanbul is a wonderful city to visit with a good camera and a sense of adventure. Learn just a few Turkish words and you will be amazed by how well you are received there!
saige is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 07:38 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
Besides what has been recommended above, there are three small mosques close to each other I visited that were wonderful. There was no one else there at the time so you could walk around and really see the tiles. The mosques are: Yeni, Suleymanyie, and Rushem Pasa.
adrienne is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 03:52 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 20
Hello!

Istanbul is full of history! Visit the most important sightseeing places that you definitely shouldn't miss while on your trip to Istanbul are the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Spicy Market, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome..

Have a great trip!
winterday is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 04:53 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,726
ttt
Byrd is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 05:22 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,751
I was in Istanbul in March and did a trip report. Here is the link to it: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ith-photos.cfm There is a link to my photos in the report.

With only two days you will only have time for the highlights. The Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque and Cistern are all together in the center of Sultanahmet and can be done in a morning (if you don't linger). From there it's a couple of tram stops to the. Galata Bridge/ Eminönü area. The bridge itself is fun, lined with restaurants and on weekends with fishermen. Across the street (there is an underground passageway) is the New Mosque and the Spice Market - I thought these were definitely highlights. For us a major highlight was a Bosphorus cruise but that takes about 6 hours so might not be worth it if you only have two days. What else are you doing on your trip that you only have two days in Istanbul?
isabel is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 07:45 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,598
I'll be in Istanbul in Sept also. For those who have done both, if you had to choose between the Dolmahbache Palas and Harem and the Bosphorus cruise, which would you do?

Thanks.
Luisah is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 07:51 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,977
During several visits, I suppose we have "done it all." The Bosphorus cruise, Luisah, i a pleasant trip, accomplished at any hour. The ride out to the Princes' Islands and back is worth a full day, with a horse-and-buggy ride on Buyuk Ada plus lunch makes a special memory. Be sure, while you are up at the Blue Mosque, to visit the Great Cistern, a huge underground reservoir built ages ago. While we were in it, Pavarotti was "singing" on a tape -- like a great shower. Most of all, just wandering around makes a pleasant day. We found the Spice Bazaar, though smaller than the Grand Bazaar, is easier to manage. Great photo ops.
USNR is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 08:04 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,598
Thanks USNR, I like your suggestions. I always enjoy some "just wandering" time.
Luisah is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 11:32 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,683
Well, I stayed on Buyukada for three days at the Splendid Palace Hotel and whilst the buggy ride was somewhat pleasant, I would not go all the way out to the island just for that. Plus, you see all the garbage in the foliage that picnickers have thrown about.

A visit to the monastery on Buyukada is a must.

If you only have two days in Istanbul, I do NOT recommend spending a whole day on Buyukada.

Thin
Cries_Van_Notebook is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 11:53 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,036
I too wholeheartedly agree with a visit to the Archeology Museum. If you have any appreciation for history this is a must-see. The Harem was also another favorite of ours.

We couldn't take the Bosphorous cruise because it was freezing and raining when we were there (February) but from what I understand this is also a must. However, with two days I personally would spend the time in Istanbul.

Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 12:29 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 122
I would add to CVN's list two places:

- Cistern Basilica
- Beylerbeyi Palace with the splendid view of the Bosforus and its bridges

However, this list is too long for only two days, you have to decide what you you will leave for another visit!
Adrian45 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 12:48 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 253
Wow, all these suggestions are making me nostalgic as I would recommend many of the same! The cistern is really something neat and different, and obviously you can't miss the Ayasofia, Bazaar, and Blue Mosque. You may have to choose only one palace though, since it's easy to just wander the grounds for hours soaking up the beauty, and I really don't know what my favorite is.....Topkapi probably is a little more museum like with many separate areas and display cases of goodies, and the dagger is kind of breathtaking. I loved Rumeli Hisari, and seeing the vast difference between the ruins there and here in Italy, just how things here seem to last hundreds of years longer. A trip on the Bosphorous and then out to the islands around the city is really fantastic too, and refreshing after the hustle and bustle. Then, about 2 and a half hours away, up the Black Sea coast is a real gem...Maybe your time is too short, but after being there, if I could only revisit Turkey for 1 afternoon in my life, I would pick Sile: http://cm2009.esnturkiye.org/wp-cont...9/05/sile1.jpg

It looks more built up in recent picks than when I was there, but I found CLEAN, deserted beaches, lovely water, and simply wanted to move there. Whatever you do though, I'm sure you'll have fun in one of my favorite countries on earth
Dobermina is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 01:06 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 4,175
We used Rick Steves Istanbul as our tour guide and as always found his guide very helpful. We had about the same amount of time that you have (we were there in May 2009). I really liked the Topkapi Palace, esp. the harem part - we spent pretty much an entire afternoon doing that. Haji Sophia, Blue Mosque and Cistern we did in a morning. Blue Mosque is free and doesn't take much time - Cistern is not free but also does not take much time and is pretty unique. I really liked the Rushem Pascha mosque (free) which we found by following the Rick Steves walking tour. The mosque of Sulieman the Mag. is currently undergoing renovation - don't waste your time although I think some of the scenes from The International were filmed in the cemetary there. The Chora Church was OK (I've seen better mosiacs in Italy) and I wish we had used the time we spent going there to do the Bosphorous cruise. I think you can do a long one (6+ hours) or a shorter one. The public transportation, at least the tram, was easy to use - taking the bus to the Chora Church was more of and adventure. Istanbul definately has a different flavor than other places I have been in Europe - I wish we had had a day or two more to spend there.
suec1 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 06:32 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 39
You peeps are super, thank you! Questions: Do you remember where to eat and also, about tipping or communicating with the locals? Do's and Don'ts, that is.

I am a photographer and would like to experience the City at dawn and dusk. Tips, other than what you suggest are most welcome.

Hey, got a guide that you thing would be around ... how to contact?

Talk Turkish.... yes will do. Your favorite phrases?
LongLegs is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 07:10 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,604
We were in Istanbul in March 2009. We were there for 5 nights and absolutely loved it. I will also send you a link to a report that I did on Fodors http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...stanbul.cfm?46 My report has many of my favorite Istanbul memories; places we enjoyed, restaurants we ate at etc. 2 days is just not enough, but better than nothing. Have a wonderful time.
opaldog is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 07:23 PM
  #20  
sjj
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 510
My wife and I spent two weeks in Istanbul in early May, with a side trip to Ephesus. To us, the most interesting sights were the Alexander Sarcophagus in the Archeological Museum, the Mosaic Museum adjacent to the Arasta Bazaar, the Rustem Pasha, Beyazit, and Sultanahmet mosques, and Hagia Sophia, particularly the art work in the gallery overlooking the ground floor. We also liked the Chora Church, the Theodosian Wall, the Yerebatan cistern, and hanging out in the Hippodrome and in Gülhane Park. My wife liked Topkapi Palace, but I found it overcrowded, time consuming, and only mildly interesting. Ditto for the Grand Bazaar. Neither of us liked Istiklal Caddessi.

The streets are unmarked and it's easy to get lost, so I suggest getting a good map and a pocket compass. Fortunately, the people are very helpful, and many of them speak English or French.

Last but not least, we ate well and inexpensively. Our favorite restaurants were Tamara and Buhara 93. I left 15% tips, and that seemed to be enough.
sjj is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:45 AM.