Common Mistakes of visitors to Istanbul
1. Walking tour of Old Town
If you have not been walking and standing for 8 hours ( from 9am to 5pm) your following day will be ruined with your exausted body from this strenous day.
Yes, staying in the old town close to the monuments is a benefit, but most people are not equipped for a tiring tour like this. If you are over 20 year old and not a sportsmen, or a goaty traveller who is used to many hours of walking ( agreable distances ) and standing a full day walking tour is too much.
It should be half a day walking tour , good combination can be a Bosphorus cruise, drive along the Golden Horn with a cable car ride to Pierre Loti hill at Eyup district with a brief stop at the Islaimc sacred sites , or Ottoman Band performance.
2. Bosphorus Cruise :
a. 10.35 departure of city lines IDO ( pier is across Spice Market , right side of Galata bridge ) is packed; go for the next one at about 12 o’clock , and there is one more that loops and brings you back ( see my article about it ) ; it explores both European and Asiatic shores, and offers more.
b. If you have the insight of identifying the difference between quantity and quality ; take a shorter ( one hour) cruise from Ortakoy ( again see my article about it browse this blog or google “bitter bosphorus cruise” ) : Because the city transportation boat is not the rifgt type of boat for a pleasurable scenic Bosphorus experience. The limited outdect areas are all taken and you get stuck behind tiny windows.
3. Topkapi Palace & Hagia Sophia
In summer when Istanbul is packed , there are lines to buy a ticket for these museums ( Yes, the Byzantine Cathedral Hagia Sophia is also a museum ) ; and especially the treasury section of Topkapı Palace gets packed ( three tours groups alone make 120 visitors lined up outside it ) :
Your best bet in summer time when the palace is open until 7p.m ( last entrance 6 p.m. , indoor areas get closed from 6.30 on ) just get in the palace at 5 p.m. ; or 4.30 p.m. if you will also visit the Harem ( extra ticket sold inside , at its entrance for about 10$ US ) , and beat the crowds : Tour groups tend to go back to their hotels by 5 p.m. , orelse head for the bazaars by 4 pm ; as a result you have a big chance of having a leisurely tour especially from 5.30 on in the palace.
Originally , if you are staying for 5 or more days in Istanbul , you may plan like a little less then half a day for this palace alone, others will come back to Istanbul anyways.
4. Asiatic Istanbul
This is a good experience to non touristy Istanbul missed by over 90% of the visitors. Consider a dinner escape to Asia, Kadikoy district. Easy to commute by city lines boat from Eminonu ( Across Spice Market , Kadikoy pier ) . Kadikoy has got a nice walking district, produce market with many restaurants. Ciya is also here, but fine restaurants in districts of Kalamis, Moda, Canak Rest. of Acibadem are easily accessible from here.
5. Ottoman Military Band performs in the Military Museum at 3 p.m.closed on mon and tue 3.30 pm is second half. comes with 6 min video , 60 members in original Ottoman costume , admission fee: few liras , 2$ or so.
Although this can be combined with any tour to the new town ( Taksim Square – Istiklal Street ) visitors get tired from the 1000 advises of their guide books and end up missing this one.
6. Historical Turkish Bath visit for a non-bather
Especially Cağaloğlu Turkish Bath is a good brief experience, browsers are welcome since they are potential customers. Its lounge area is full of character, including the masseur characters hanging in that area , but not limited to that. This can be included to your walking route to the Grand Bazaar, from Hagia Sophia, past the entrrance of Basilica Cİstern on the same street.
7. Courtyard of New Mosque
This should be included to any tour of Spice Market. This courtyard is a good example to less is more; those grand mosques , Blue or Suleymaniye can nor compete with the charmingly decorated well proportioned courtyard of Blue Mosque.
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