Istanbul is one of the most visited destinations in the world. People come from all over to see the history of the former Constantinople and to experience some of the local Turkish culture. This article describes the essentials about Istanbul that all visitors should know about to make their trip as smooth as possible.
How to Get to Istanbul from the Airport:
Before we start, it’s worth mentioning that there are two airports in Istanbul. The first is Istanbul Ataturk Airport and the second is Sabiha Gökçen International Airport. The first is located on the European side and the second on the Asian side of Istanbul. There are several ways to get to the city including the airport bus, a taxi, or using a private airport transfer such as Blacklane.
If you’re coming from the Asian side, using the bus is more time consuming because you then have to take a ferry across the Bosphorus to get to the historical center. Taxis are prone to overcharging tourists and their driving style isn’t the safest. The final and probably the most suitable way is by arranging a private transfer, which gives you a safe airport transfer with kids. Drivers are more careful and will drop you off at the door of your hotel.
Where to Stay in Istanbul:
The vast majority of tourists stay on the European side of Istanbul that’s close to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia and the other historical attractions. You can also find lots of hotels that range in quality from budget-friendly all the way up to the five-stars of Hilton. This is the best place to stay for any tourists and most of the attractions are clustered around here.
If you do want to experience a different side of Turkey, you can find a place on the Asian side. This feels more Turkish and has a very different feel to its neighbor across the water. You can also head to other districts further down the Bosphorus where you can find a few relaxing resorts. But this is only recommended if you’re spending more than a few days or are visiting for the second or third time.
The Essential Things to See in Istanbul:
Everyone knows the two most iconic attractions in Istanbul: The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. Others include the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which is adjacent to the Blue Mosque and has a giant Egyptian Obelisk in the center. You can also visit the Grand Bazaar and explore the ruins of former Ottoman baths. Another great activity is to walk around the huge city walls that once protected the Byzantines for hundreds of years. If you’re looking for views, take the regular ferry across the water for 5 Lira. You can also walk along a long stretch of the promenade that hugs the Bosporus where you may see dolphins if you’re lucky.
The Bottom Line:
Istanbul is full of history and makes a perfect destination to visit. Plan how to get from the airport before you arrive and stay on the European side of the city for easy access to the major attractions. And don’t forget to take a ferry ride for some of the best views in Istanbul.
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