How to survive in Istanbul?
Updated: Aug 12, 2019
Welcome to Istanbul, the city of two continent. Looking for a place to stay? If you are looking for a renaissance view and bit calm surrounding, I suggest to stay in the Sultanahmet area. On the contrary, if you are a person more to looking for a modern culture of Turks, epic party all-night-long, glimpse bars/restaurants, Taksim is the spot where you belong. How if I stay in Sultanahmet and spending the rest of the night in Taksim? Nah, don't mind about it. These two places were connected by tram, only 15 mins of travel time. Surely they have taxis if you don't bear when it cost you triples than a tram.
Up to one hour driving from Istanbul airport, the Sultanahmet area offers a glimpse of everything which left by the Ottoman empire. Roaming around Istanbul is convenient as the public transportation were integrated each other, just make sure you save the Istanbul card that you've bought from the airport. I suggest you download the PDF files of Istanbul public transportation so you won't get lost.
here is the link: https://www.metro.istanbul/YolcuHizmetleri/AgHaritalari
Searching for the hotel in the Sultanahmet area is effortless, as the hotels were lined up along the main street. Considering doing this trip as a solo, the vote comes with Antique Hostel. Located 5 mins walk from Hagia Sophia, this low-cost budget hostel offers a nice communal area on the top floor. Seeing the Bosporus sea during the sunset over the top became one reason for staying in this hostel. From this hostel you could easily walk to the most touristy place in the Sultanahmet area. Make sure you have your hotel reservation before taking the trip to Istanbul in the summertime. As summer is the peak season of the crowd, definitely, the hotels will outnumber for the room.
It only took 5 mins for me to walk from the hostel to the Blue Mosque (or it could say Sultanahmet Camii, which that's written on the plank). Avoiding the closure time during the praying time, I attempt to visit the Mosque early in the morning. The local time shows 9:35 am and there was the long line up to the mosque... From what I heard of the locals, mostly the Istanbul tour and travel operator cataloged their first visit to the Mosque.
Come at 8.00 am to any touristy area for a less visitor; more angle to take the photo with less distraction.
Take a short trip at Blue Mosque then walk across the exit, you could easily locate the great Hagia Sophia. From what I've encountered, the entry queue to the Hagia Sophia is the craziest ever compared with another tourist attraction. People can queue up to one hour just to pass the line. With the admission ticket cost 45 TL, you could savor the magnificent wall painting over the ceiling of Hagia Sophia. From the entry, you spotted the mini-theater used to play the history of Hagia Sophia. Try to spend 5-10 mins to watch the theater considering the hell line you've been through to get in here.
If you got a full pocket and willing to spend extra bucks, try to skip the lines by looking for a private tour. Search for a man using official museum name tags along the queue lines. Skip the lines as if VIP does.
As well as Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque there were many objects to see around the Sultanahmet area, most of it was the legacy of Byzantine / Ottoman empire; Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome, and Spice Market. If you are planning to visit all of those object, I suggest you buy a Museum Pass to save your expenses rather than buy a single entry ticket in every object you want to visit. If you're looking for an answer of where to buy the souvenirs of Turkey; Grand Bazaar it is. Provides with hundreds of stores, you could easily search anything you desire; such as food, clothes, rugs, turkey-lamp, and accessories. You may notice the price went far cheaper when you buy in the Bazaar than any market in Turkey. Make a bargain to get a good price before buying items in the bazaar, as a bargain is common things when you shopping in here. Make sure to check all the list when staying in the Sultanahmet area.
Grand Bazaar is closing every Sunday.
Staying in Taksim is another level of seeing Istanbul life. Noisy street, tinkling glass, echoing horn, yelling people will be a daily sight of yours. Not to mention those bad either, I am saying stay in Taksim incur whole new experiences. Plus they have the Galata Tower! Yes, you just can not skip the Galata. An ancient watchtower surrounded by fancy hotels and romantic restaurant, blended with brick small alley beneath the shadow of the trees makes Galata has its own charming. Same to other popular sites in Istanbul, taking lines to enter the Galata tower can be frustrating. So I recommend being the first liner as their opening time, as the view from the top is worth to visit.
If you heading 15mins more to the north, you will find Istiklal Street. This well-known street fills up with a line of stores and cafes. The most iconic thing in here was a historic Galatasaray Tram that cut across Istiklal street. This nostalgic tram operates with three mortises and two wagons which operate during regular hours.
Try to spend the sunset time in the Galata bridge to the edge of Karaköy docks. The combination of seagulls, Istanbul, Bosphorus straits, and sunset draws an epic moment to shoot. Taking dinner of Bosphorus view along Galata Bridge could be the option after sunset view.
If you're a food enthusiast, welcome to the paradise of food. You may notice some of the food in Istanbul was a bit tempting on its look. The spices combination and ingredient are blending together, influenced by the culture of Greek, Balkans, and Ottoman. However, be cautious you're might not bear so much sweetness in your tongue. Funny ha? Try Baklava, you'll get it. While to food price is affordable in Istanbul, just try every food you've ever spotted.
Istanbul is a safe place to visit for a solo traveler. Respect local traditions and habits. Bypass the scam offered on the street by not respond to their question. As the majority of Turkish religion is a Moslem, pay attention to your clothes when visiting the mosque. Wear a long pants and use pashmina (for women) when entering a Mosque is mandatory.
I can be conclude that staying three days in Istanbul is the good start exploring the Turkey. You have your tricks, so what are you waiting for? Gear up!