Istanbul is an incredible city filled with history, culture, and life.  As you walk the streets, you will see a mixture of shops, mosques, restaurants, and street vendors.  If you are like us, you can see almost everything in a few days.

Here are a few facts about Istanbul:

  • There are close to 20 million people in the city of Istanbul
  • Istanbul is divided into three parts: The new city, old city and the Asian portion
  • A lot of people smoke in Turkey. Be prepared, your clothes will smell like smoke.
  • Istanbul is the world’s only city that spans across two continents (Europe and Asia)

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  1. Visit the Blue Mosque.  For women, your hair will need to be covered and if you wear a skirt or leggings, they will provide a skirt to enter.  Make sure you double-check visiting hours.  *Note: Be careful of shop owners pretending to be nice and offering to take pictures. But it’s just a way for them to try to scam to visit their carpet shops.
  2. Visit the Hagia Sophia.  It has always been one of the top places to visit in all the art history books.  Pictures honestly cannot portray how beautiful this place is. The Hagia Sophia was actually a Christian Church before it became a mosque and today, it is a museum.
  3. Listen to the pray to call. If you happen to be outside while the pray to call is going on, it’s a very unique experience.  In each mosque, there are 4 tall towers called the minaret. It is explained that only one minaret has a real purpose, the other 3 are solely for decorative purposes.   One muezzin would sing out part of the prayer and then the second muezzin would respond from the other minaret.470
  4. Try Turkish Ice Cream.  You have to try the ice cream, it’s very unique.  The ice cream is extremely thick, so thick that sometimes people eat it with a spoon or fork.  When we got our ice cream, the server gave us a show too.Snapchat-9083039238359041737
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  5. Take a stroll on Istiklal Street  This is considered the newer area of Istanbul and normally where the locals live.  We went on a weeknight and it was extremely crowded, on the weekends there can be up to thousands of people on the street.  They do tell you to be careful of pick-pockets.
  6. Taste some Turkish Delights. There are so many different flavors from pistachio, pomegranate, and coconut. Make sure to try as many as you can.
  7. Walk around Yeldiz Park.
  8. Drink some Aryan, which is a yogurt drink.100
  9. Visit the Topkapi Palace.  The palace was built for sultans and overtime, each one added more room for their harems.  The colors, the patterns, and the decor leans more towards Arabic designs.
  10. Tour Dolmabahçe Palace.  The palace was built for the Ottoman Empire and it is considered one of the most lavish palaces in the world.  Unfortunately, they did not allow pictures in the palace.  They actually will kick the entire group out, so Lisa and I decided not to be the jerks who caused that.  When you walk in the palace, you can’t help but stop at the entry way.  It is beautiful, actually the entire palace is amazing.  The palace was built to put on a facade of wealth even if the financial stability of country was not.
  11. Go to a Hamman Bath.  We did this in Greece and we believed that it was a lot better, but we had to try it in Turkey since it was listed on 100 to do before you die.
  12. Explore the Spice Market.  This is considered an Egyptian Market.  You will see everything for sale including blood sucking leeches!270269
  13. See the Galata Tower
  14. Drink fresh pomegranate (nar) juice from a vendor. It was about 4 to 6 Liras per glass, so cheap!
  15. Take the Bosphorus Bridge. This is the bridge that connects Europe and Asia.
  16. Try some baklava. This is a very common dessert in Turkey.
  17. Drink lots of Turkish Tea or “cay.”  It is pronounced like chai.
  18. Don’t forget about Little Hagia Sophia
  19. Eat a Doner.108109
  20. Browse the Grand Bazaar.
  21. Explore the city at night.
  22. Try a Turkish Pizza.91
  23. Dress up in a traditional Turkish outfit.
  24. Beef and chicken kebabs are everywhere.127126
  25. Be adventurous and taste a little of everything.

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