Istanbul was my last stop in Turkey, but I had already spent a night there upon my arrival in the country. That little glimpse of the city by night making my way to the hostel through Istiklal avenue, one of the busiest streets in Istanbul, was enough to make me excited about exploring this place for 4 days.
I had heard so much about Istanbul from many friends before getting there, so my expectations were pretty high. And the city definitely lived up to them. I stayed in the Beyoglu district which houses very entertaining and pretty neighborhoods such as Cihangir and Galata.
The location was perfect to explore the more modern and trendy side of Istanbul. On one side you have Istiklal avenue, always busy and full of life, where you can shop till you drop. And on the other you have Cihangir, a very bohemian and chill neighborhood where you can find chic restaurants to grab the typical Turkish breakfast and beautiful boutique hotels. By night you have plenty of options to have a quiet drink or a dance filled night.
To make your way to Sultanahmet which is the old city where you will find the most popular sightseeing spots in Istanbul, you can take the tram or walk it. It’s not a short walk but it not impossible either, as a traveller on a low budget walking for me is always the best option.
Once in Sultanahmet, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace , the grand Bazaar and the Basilica cistern, are a close walking distance to eachother.I didn’t enter all the sites mostly because at this last leg of my Turkey trip I was running out of Liras, but I loved my stay there.
The only times when I felt a bit disturbed was when street vendors would follow us to try to sell their products, nothing we said made them back off. Also, it made me so sad to see how kids are used for work. My first encounter with this situation was I took an over night bus and there was a kid working as the bus attendant. And in Taksim Square, I witnessed the moment when a man driving a scooter came in carrying water bottles and handed them out to the kids so that they would sell them to tourists. I never buy from kids as this only encourages locals to keep using them in this way.
But,I really enjoyed Istanbul and will definitely go back at some point and discover the Asian side which I unfortunately didn’t have time for during this trip.
This post is already too long, but to those who are still reading, Turkey is a great destination that caters to different styles of travel, from backpacking to luxe and everything in between. I had an amazing 10 day trip alongside great company that made it even better :).