Cities are huge places, and for that reason, it’s important to do your research ahead of time, to make your visit as enriching as possible. For sure, Istanbul is a city that you need to know about beforehand, because it is packed with amazing sights and cultural experiences to be had.
So, if your next travel adventure is taking you to the largest city in Turkey, what do you need to know in order to plan your trip?
Where Are You Flying to?
There are two airports in Istanbul; Sabiha Gokcen and Ataturk Airport. The latter is the larger of the two by a long way, and is the main international hub, located on the European side of the city. This is one of the busiest airports in the world! Sabiha Gokcen is located on the Asian side and serves domestic and international destinations. It is easy to get to most places within the city from either airport, but Ataturk is linked by the Metro system, whereas Sabiha Gokcen is only accessible by road, which can be a nightmare during traffic!
Which Side Are You Thinking of Staying on?
You have the European Side and you have the Asian Side. The European Side is the most popular and is home to the best known tourist attractions. For instance, Taksim, Sultanahmet, Besiktas, and all the big hotspots, such as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, are located on this side. The Asian Side is much more residential, although Kadikoy and Uskudar do have several pretty tourist attractions, and will show you more of a ‘normal’ way of life.
What do You Want to See?
It’s vital that you think before you go about what you want to see. You will not be able to do all of Istanbul in one visit, so make peace with that fact. Many blogging sites will tell you exactly the same thing! If you want to do shopping, identify one mall which you are going to visit, and is close to where you are staying. If you want to see a football match, plan your trip accordingly. If you want to see the historic sites, pinpoint the most important ones for you, and forget abut the rest until next time. The must visits for a first timer include the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Grand Bazaar, a Bosphorus Cruise, a visit to the Bosphorus Bridge, and a choice between Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahce Palace.
Take Advantage of the Istanbul Card
Getting around the city might seem worrying at first, due to the size and busy nature, but it is actually easier than you think, thanks to the Istanbul Card. This is a prepaid card which will let you use buses, Metro, ferries, and certain other types of transport with ease. Taxis are also cheap enough, provided you ask the price before getting in – do bear in mind that it will probably be by metre, but having an idea of how much means you won’t get ripped off.
How Long Should You go For?
Finally, how long is long enough? Istanbul is a busy city, and it can be an exhausting experience if you’re trying to get the most out of it. As a traveling blogger, I would recommend five days minimum to see the top sights comfortably, without coming home needing another vacation! Remember, you can always venture back at a later date!