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What to do in Istanbul in three days

(Five things you cannot miss…)

There are certain things nobody should miss when they first set a foot in Istanbul. Everyone must visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia or the Topkapi Palace. It is also a well-known suggestion to get lost around the alleys of the Grand Bazaar or walk around Beyoğlu. But certain musts are sometimes ignored. Here are five things you can’t miss from Istanbul, letting alone the famous ones.

 

A moment of peace in the Blue Mosque

A moment of peace in the Blue Mosque.

What to do in Istanbul

Apple tea and live coal.

Apple tea and live coal.

One of the best things to do

If there is a tradition well taken in Istanbul’s culture this could be it. There is something inherently exotic about sharing a nargile pipe while sipping a glass of Turkish tea or coffee. Choose an old Hookah bar, a local one, not originally aimed for tourists; thus guaranteeing a better quality and stronger flavor as well and a much more relaxed atmosphere (you will see prices improving on your favor as well). The choice is wide and stimulating. A nargile can be filled with a variety of tobacco and then piped through water or even juice. I went for a tobacco scented with mix of apple and mint: Delicious.

 

Hookah Bar, Istanbul.

Galata Tower: second pick

Walk all the way from the New Mosque up to the Galata Tower, this will be your goal. Slowly stroll over the Galata bridge, taking the time to watch the infinite line of fishermen catching their lunch… or their next bait. Keep yourself going up until you reach the Tower. The road might prove uphill and tiring. Yet, don’t give up. And when you cannot take another single step, just take a deep breath, then a deeper one and simply think that going down will be easier… oh, so much easier!
Once on top, choose a bar, sit and reward yourself with a glass of beer. Chill for a while watching passers-by. Such an easy way to get a glimpse of the authentic inhabitant of this city: trendy, funny, striving to belong to a more modern Europe.

Five things you can't miss in Istanbul

Endless line of rods.

A view from the Galata Köprüsü(Galata bridge).

A view from the Galata Köprüsü (Galata bridge).

 

A pause at a bar, in front of the Galata Tower. What to do in Istanbul in three days.

A pause at a bar, in front of the Galata Tower.

 

 Galata Tower.

Galata Tower.

Three, getting lost in cups of tea

Tea and nargile, Beşiktaş'ta.

Tea and nargile, Beşiktaş’ta.

 

Take a self-guided tour around one of the many districts of the city. Anywhere you decide to go, be sure it will always be crowded and animated.

Get lost, enjoy the wanderlust of being a part of Istanbul, indulge in this selfish pleasure and take it as a personal gift you have earned.
My choice was Beşiktaş… Order a glass of apple tea, or two. If you are in the mood, instead, have a dinner with the national dish, Iskender.

Make the most of the atmosphere, breathe it like a local. Don’t fear the crowds, you can’t avoid them in Istanbul, they are part of its geography.

 

 

 

Walking the streets at night, Beşiktaş.

Walking the streets at night, Beşiktaş.

 

A dish of Iskender.

A dish of Iskender.

Afterwards, go beyond the tour of the sacred buildings 

Get up early and head to the Sultanahmet district. Take a seat somewhere between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia and just stay there, read a book, take pictures, or just admire what surrounds you. Let the magic of the place enchant you and the hours go by

The prayer call from the Blue Mosque will surprise you. The reply coming from the minarets of Hagia Sophia will be mesmerizing. The call of the muezzins is a dance, a duel-like conversation of charm and mystery. A tear might grow fat in your eye, or two. Or not.

When it ends, enjoy the vacuum left, quickly filled with the routine noises of the city. You might even want to do it again.

 

The Blue Mosque from the distance.

The Blue Mosque from the distance.

 

The Blue Mosque seen from the roofs of Hagia Sophia.

The Blue Mosque seen from the roofs of Hagia Sophia.

 

Heading to Hagia Sophia, from the Blue Mosque. What to do in Istanbul in three days.

Heading to Hagia Sophia, from the Blue Mosque.

And finally… 

Talk with the locals. Get to know the people from this city. They are open to tell you everything about their history and their culture.

Don’t limit yourself to live an exclusive romance between you and your guide-book. Get a lover, let it be the city itself. Get your nose out of those pages. Open up, talk, walk, ask, smilePeople from Istanbul love their city and telling stories about it. They are often smiling and helpful.

A unique opportunity to reach the real heart of Istanbul: eat local, walk local, do local, be local

Don’t miss this chance, but don’t miss it anywhere! That’s the best way to travel.

Locals eating a fish sandwich by the sea.

Locals eating a fish sandwich by the sea.

 

Turkish tea and apple tea. What to do in Istanbul in three days.

Turkish tea and apple tea.

 

Street food. Istanbul.

Street food.

 

Pin for Later

Things you must do in Istanbul! What to do in Istanbul in three days.

Things you must do in Istanbul!

 

For more things you can do in Istanbul, check Fun Istanbul and so much more. If you are interested in a superb gourmet Turkish experience, go for 15 Delicacies to Try in Istanbul.

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