Istanbul Complete Travel Guide

Istambul. Image: Anna Berdnik, Unsplash.
Istambul. Image: Anna Berdnik, Unsplash.

Turkey is a multicultural country, with historical roots that go back to antiquity. Several episodes contained in books and popular imagination took place where the country is located today: Troy, Temple of Artemis, Museum of Halicarnassus, and many other passages (Istanbul).

The country is located in the transition between east and west, being part of both Asia and Europe at the same time.

To synthesize this mixture and proximity between different cultures, the most important city in the country, Istanbul, is located between the two continents, with half of its portion on the European continent and half on the Asian continent.

History of Istanbul

Image: Mohammad Majid, Unsplash.
Image: Mohammad Majid, Unsplash.

Contrary to popular belief, Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey — this is Ankara. However, despite not being the political capital, Istanbul is the cultural and economic capital of the country, in addition to being the largest city.

The city is located above the ancient city of Constantinople “The Second Rome”, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire until 1453. Since it was founded with the role of establishing Rome’s influence in the East, the city has been one of the most important in the world.

Due to its strategic location, it has been an important trading post since ancient times, as it is the gateway for trade routes between East and West, in addition to connecting the Mediterranean to the Black Sea through the Bosphorus Strait.

It is also a very cosmopolitan city with several commercial attractions throughout the city.

When To Go

Image: Ibrahim Uzun, Unsplash.
Image: Ibrahim Uzun, Unsplash.

Spring is the most favorable period for those who want to visit the city of Istanbul, Turkey. Spring in the region runs from April to mid-June. This season promotes mild days and beautiful days with clear skies. This makes the tours ideal for those who enjoy photographing the parks or even the city’s historical points.

Another suitable season is autumn, although some cooler days are expected during this time of year.

During the summer, from July to August, the city becomes quite agitated, with the occurrence of several festivals. During this period, the city tour is especially recommended for lovers of nightlife, as Istanbul has one of the busiest nights in this region of Europe and Asia.

How To Get To Istanbul

Image: voo qqq, unplash.
Image: voo qqq, unplash.

Turkey is located between two continents: Asia and Europe. The main point of arrival are the two international airports in the city of Istanbul: Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen.

This first one is the closest to the city, and the main companies that use it are Turkish Airlines and Iberia. The other alternative, Sabiha Gökçen Airport is 50 km from the Asian side, and receives flights from companies such as Pegasus. Flights arrive from different parts of the world, especially from Europe and nearby countries: Germany, Bulgaria, Paris and London are some of the alternatives.

There is also the possibility to reach the city of Istanbul by train. The country has a good rail network. In addition, there is the country’s connection with European neighbors, such as Bulgaria, Germany, Romania or even the Greek city of Thessaloniki.

Another option is to get to the city of Istanbul by bus. There are some options that depart from other European countries, especially Greece, Italy and Germany, as well as other European countries like Bulgaria and Romania.

Finally, a very pleasant alternative is through a Cruise. They can stop in several cities in Turkey, including the city of Istanbul.

Language and Currency used

Image: Batu Gezer, Unsplash.
Image: Batu Gezer, Unsplash.

Turkish people, in general, are very proud of their history and origins. However, they are not xenophobic or averse to tourism. On the contrary! The multicultural history and transition between different routes and peoples made the country very receptive to new cultures.

For communication, therefore, Turkish is a priority. However, English speakers will not have much difficulty communicating in the country, especially in tourist areas.

The local currency is the Turkish Lira, relatively stable, which helps those who want to get to know the country as a tourist. Another important highlight to mention is that there is no need for a visa to visit Turkey, as long as your trip does not extend beyond 90 days.

However, you need to present a passport valid for at least six months, proof of round-trip tickets from the country, as well as a blank Turkish visa page.

Top Attractions In Istanbul

Image: Hussein Himmati, Unsplash.
Image: Hussein Himmati, Unsplash.

We made a list of the main attractions:

  • Hagia Sophia;
  • Galata Tower;
  • Blue Mosque;
  • New Mosque;
  • Sunset on the Bosphorus Strait.

Hagia Sophia

Image: Ibrahim Uzu, Splash.
Image: Ibrahim Uzu, Splash.

Hagia Sophia is one of the symbols of the city, and also one of its most important historical monuments. It dates back to the Roman Empire’s takeover of the region, when Emperor Constantine founded the city of Constantinople, created especially to improve the transition of goods and people between the western and eastern parts of the empire.

Soon after, this city became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, which later fragmented into the Byzantine Empire.

Galata Tower

Image: Osman Koycu, Unsplash.
Image: Osman Koycu, Unsplash.

The Galata Tower is located in the Beyoglu district, a trendy bar in the city of Istanbul, occupied mainly by young people. It also has several restaurants, nightclubs and a busy nightlife.

The Gálata Tower makes up the landscape in one of the most important neighborhoods for tourism in the region. This monument is a 14th century construction, and was built by the Genoese.

The construction is surrounded by curiosity and stories. A man once tried to fly from the top using artificial wings. Evidently, the experience was not the best.

Being 63 meters high, the construction offers an excellent view of the entire region, beyond the Bosphorus Strait. However, there are long queues, which last an average of 30 minutes.

Blue Mosque

Image: Adli Wahid, Unsplash.

Istanbul is a Turkish-Ottoman city, whose official religion is Islam. In this way, it is fundamental, to know more about the culture of Turkey, to know its official religion and, consequently, its religious temples.

The Blue Mosque is the main Muslim temple in Turkey, and receives thousands of tourists throughout the year.

The main attractions of the building are its mosaics and blue tiles. This Mosque was built in the 17th century, at the behest of Sultan Ahmet I.

Thus, the building has several domes and minarets, as well as an exuberant and monumental internal decoration.

New Mosque

Image: Engin Yapici, Unsplash.
Image: Engin Yapici, Unsplash.

Don’t be fooled! The New Mosque was completed in 1663 and construction had begun decades earlier, in 1597.

Unlike the much-hyped Blue Mosque, this one can be enjoyed in peace and is also a landmark of Ottoman architecture.

As is customary for religious buildings in Istanbul, the building has a rich interior decoration, especially the use of blue tiles.

So, when visiting this Mosque, take the opportunity to visit the Spice Bazaar, located across the street from the Mosque, and with over 400 years of history. The main products traded are sweet fruits and Turkish sweets.

Sunset on the Bosphorus Strait

Image: Ibrahim Uzun, unplash.
Image: Ibrahim Uzun, unplash.

One of the most beautiful and majestic scenes in all of Istanbul and this part of the world is watching the sun set over the Bosphorus Strait. This strait is what divides the city of Istanbul.

It also represents the geographical division between Europe and Asia, as well as providing access from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. The Turkish summer makes the place even more beautiful, with orange tones that are unforgettable to the observer.

Thus, the hue of the sky makes the constructions of Ottoman origin even more beautiful. Another way to enjoy the Strait and the sunset is on a boat trip. Several companies offer this option, whether for crossing or to enjoy the waters and sky of the region.


Image: Ataberk Guler, Unsplash.
Image: Ataberk Guler, Unsplash.

Turkish cuisine is very rich and reflects the country’s culture, with different influences, from the mountainous region to the presence of the Mediterranean; of the union of different peoples, such as the Greeks, Turks and Arabs. Turkish coffee and tea are very famous.

So, whenever you can, stop to visit the teahouses and cafes in Turkey. To eat, there is Kebab (grilled meat), the typical Turkish dish best known outside the country.

Thus, there is also the Gözleme, a kind of Turkish crepe. As a sweet option, Blakava is a great attraction (generally made from puff pastry, honey and pistachios). Anyway, there is an infinity of typical dishes and it is worth trying each one of them!

Therefore, Istanbul is an unmissable destination for you to visit in Asia/Europe!

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