Istanbul is one of the most diverse countries in Europe, both culturally and historically. Turkey is considered the bridge between Asia and Europe (East and West). It was once a popular place to visit, until after a few terrorist attacks, and now tourism has decreased in Turkey. But don’t let that stop you from experiencing a once in a lifetime adventure to this stunning country! Our favorite photographer, Mustafa Tayfun Özcan, is native to Istanbul and loves the city. And it’s easy to see why!
Mustafa recommends visiting Turkey at any time of year, since all seasons are wonderful and offer so many options for visitors. April is especially gorgeous since it’s tulip season and the weather is perfect. To see everything you can, one week is the minimum recommendation for your stay!
For starters, you will feel the love and friendliness of the city through its locals. Always smiling and happy! And the Turkish delights, coffee and tea are worth the trip alone. Foodies will love Istanbul for its tasty pastries and culinary feasts. Make sure to try Simit (photo below), Börek and Baklava!
You will come across several feline friends while strolling through Istanbul. They are mostly friendly and are taken care of by the locals!
A trip to Süleymaniye Mosque will take your breath away. It is the second largest Mosque in Istanbul was completed in 1557 and ties together Islamic and Byzantine architecture. The largest dome is surrounded smaller domes, and on the west side is a stunning courtyard. The interior is filled with Iznik tiles, detailed woodwork, and white marble.
Nearby Hagia Sophia had many historical changes. It was once a Greek Orthodox Church, a Roman Catholic Cathedral, and an Ottoman Imperial Mosque. It was first built in 537AD and since 1935, the mosque is now a wonderful museum that should be on your list to visit!
Walking around Istanbul is the best way to experience all of the neighborhoods. All forms of transportation are available and reliable, but by foot is the best way to see any city! Some of Mustafa’s favorite neighborhoods include Balat, Üsküdar, Sultanahmet, Zeyrek, Galata and Yeniköy.
Make sure to take time out of your day to visit the The Grand Egyptian Spice Bazaars near Sultanahmet, where over 3,000 shops await you. You’ll taste Turkish food, shop for ceramics, browse beautiful rugs, and so much more.
As you walk through Istanbul, you will often come across Galata tower in the distance. The medieval stone tower stuns in Istanbul’s panorama. It was used to spot fires far and wide, and now it holds a shopping center.
Want a day away from the city? Mustafa recommends visiting Yaliköy, a village resort town along the Aegean Sea (photo below) Take a private bus here and find camping, swimming and fishing activities!
Whether it’s wandering the historical city, tasting various treats and coffee, visiting architectural landmarks and beautiful mosques, guiding yourself through the Grand Egyptian Bazaar or taking a day trip for rest and relaxation, Istanbul has something for every traveler. Make it a part of your 2018 travel bucket list!