There’s not a whole lot someone can say about Istanbul in a quick reflection – there are books and blogs dedicated to this city, and it is easy to understand why. The city is not only massive – varying from 15-24 million people, depending who you ask, and stretching across two continents – but is also a perfect juxtaposition of modernity and history. You can be walking along a modernish street passing music shops in Galata only to pass by a 700 year old tower with a 250 year old church a two minute further walk away.
What seems to capture a lot of attention amongst tourists to Istanbul, rightly so, is the Sultan Ahmet (Eminoğlu) district of the city – the real heart of the old city. It is here that the largest tourist attractions, such as the Haghia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar, are located. Where Istanbul really thrives though is in its diversity of neighborhoods and feelings – something that could be easy to miss if you only stick to the guidebooks. Ortaköy, Beşiktaş, and Arnavutköy are some great examples of Bosphorus based neighborhoods – all with a different feel.
Istanbul is dynamic, in a nutshell. To try to encapsulate it briefly just isn’t possible – it is truly a city where you can find anything that you are looking for, with huge cultural and linguistic diversity too. I will be going back there Sunday to bring in the New Year with Jen when she visits, so expect even more details next year! Until then, you can read more about Istanbul here.
What I missed is definitely too long to list here – for example, I’ve never even been to the Asian side. As a friend of mine from Istanbul told me, ‘you can live in Istanbul for thirty years and still always be surprised by what you find.’
Getting to Istanbul could not be easier, either. Any major city will have buses going to Istanbul. Also, all local airports will most likely have a daily flight into or out of the city. If you fly into Turkey, you will most likely be landing in Istanbul to start with anyway.
If you love the cultural diversity in Istanbul, but are looking for something less overwhelming head over to page 5…