This post was written by Gonçalo Guerreiro, a Lisbon-based wanderer always ready to hop on the next trip to find the best views, and food.
Istanbul it’s probably the most famous city in Turkey. It was capital for the East-Roman empire, home for the Ottomans, and it spans through Europe and Asia. It’s big, full of history and sights. For me, coming from Portugal, it was also quite unconventional but strangely familiar, and that’s a cool feeling! I visited it in February 2015.
1. How did you hear about Istanbul in the first place?
Probably at the geography classes. It’s quite difficult to find someone who never heard about Istanbul. No rocket-science here – it’s a city, a huge one (15 million people).
2. For how long did you stay there?
I stayed for one week and this amount of time is enough to get to know Istanbul! As in every place, there always something else you could do or see, but it was definitely enough.
3. How did you prepare for your trip to Istanbul?
Didn’t prepare much besides buying the flights. Istanbul was on my “list” for a while, I had locals to show me around, and I had the opportunity to go for a meeting there and review some friends. Adding everything up it was really a no-brainer. Also, I had been in Ankara some months before and hated the idea of knowing I had been to Turkey and skipped its most iconic city.
4. Why did this place become so special to you?
I think the mix of memorable things: the history, the greatness, the east-west culture blend, the food and the Turkish hospitality. It somehow feels like a scaled-up-parallel-universe version of Lisbon.
5. Is there any hidden spot that you want to share with us?
Nothing is really hidden in Istanbul but I definitely recommend crossing the Galata Bridge by night. Besides the scenic view, in a matter of minutes you can have a fisherman catching a mackerel, grilling it, and preparing a delicious sandwich.
6. If you could come back but just go to a single place there… Which would you choose? And why?
The Grand Bazaar! It carries several traits that make Istanbul such a memorable place. It’s probably the biggest covered market in the world and the combination of the visual experience, the smells and the chaos make it a worthy experience on it’s own.
7. Can you leave us some special places for staying, eating or visiting in Istanbul?
I’d say to set base near the Taksim square or along the Istiklal Avenue. You’ll have shops, restaurants, clubs and markets at your doorstep and a true glimpse at the uniqueness of Istanbul. We stayed in the #bunk taksim hostel which I can definitely recommend – great facilities, location and view! The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia are definitely mandatory stops. Also, don’t dare leaving without smoking some nargile (shisha) or relaxing in a hammam (Turkish spa).
Categories – Big City
Natural Beauty –
Cultural Offer –
Best time to visit – Mid-Spring should be perfect. In the Summer it’s unbreathable and in February, when I went, it was always raining and snowing.
Best way to move – Metro
Cost – Between 20 and 30 € / day, everything included