You might know someone who took a European tour this summer. More often than not, European itineraries consist of the popular few cities: London, Paris, Barcelona, and maybe even Berlin. Why not challenge the "Eurotrip" norm?
With one of the world's largest populations, amazing historical sites, noteworthy shopping, and a lively nightlife, this article should persuade you to make Istanbul, Turkey, a must-see city on your next adventure abroad.
The fact that Istanbul has seen four different empires (Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman) makes it one of the most historic cities you can visit around the world. Originally founded as Constantinople in 330 AD, Istanbul is packed with must-see historical sites. Many of the most popular historic sites in Istanbul are the mosques.
Construction of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque began in 1609 and is more popularly known as the Blue Mosque, due to the blue tiling detail in the interior. This massive site is comprised of one main dome, six minarets, and eight secondary domes. Other mosques to check out are the Süleymaniye Mosque and Haghia Sophia.
While the religious sites are impressive in both size and detailed architecture, there are a few other palace sites that you should be sure not to miss. The Topkapi Palace, home to many generations of ruling Sultans and their wives, is a must-see when visiting. Some site highlights include beautiful courtyard gardens, an intricate and stunning Turkish bath, and amazing views of other sites around the city.
You certainly cannot say you've visited Turkey without having experienced a true Ottoman bathhouse. If there's one to visit it's the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam, because you can actually experience a bath and massage for yourself. After a rejuvenating visit to the baths, be sure to visit one of the city's spooky underground cisterns like the Basilica Cistern or the Yerebatan Sarnici.
Shop Till You Drop
With 4,000 storefronts housed under one single roof, the Grand Bazaar is heaven on earth for anyone with a passion for fashion and a high credit card limit. If malls aren't your style there are still many other fashion boutiques to choose from around the city. Some of the most popular being Arzu Kaprol, Atelier 55, Midnight Express, Lastik Pabuç, or any of the boutiques lining the streets of Galata, known as Istanbul's most creative district.
However, clothes aren't the only thing to shop for in Istanbul. The city's Spice Market was at one point the largest spice trading locale in the world. Today, the Spice Bazaar is the place to go to experience some of the best, and most authentic, food in the city.
One of the most interesting aspects of Istanbul is the fact that the city is located in both Europe and Asia, and what better way to celebrate being in two continents at once than with a drink in one of the city's many bars lining the bustling Bosphorus straight. If you find yourself by the water be sure to stop into Anjelique, a three-story mansion famous for its amazing views, great food, and lively top-floor night club. On the Asian side of the city, both Caddebostan and Kadife Street, located in Istanbul's lively Kadıköy district, offer great nightlife.
On the European side of the city, the Beyoglu district is the hotspot for a great night out. If clubbing is your domain, be sure to experience the amazing atmosphere and views of 360. You can also experience a great live music scene at the famous Babylon and Jolly Joker Balans clubs, both located in Beyoglu as well.