12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
The perspective of a Bosphorus from a tip of a Galata Tower (Picture: Lucy Mallows)

Istanbul, Constantinople, Byzantium; whatever we call it, this city is unique.

It’s a usually one on Earth to hover dual continents, and a Gothic envoy to a sultan’s justice remarked that Istanbul “seemed designed by inlet to be a collateral of a world”.

The city is separate from north to south by a aquamarine waters of a Bosphorus; a chaotic channel joining a Black Sea with a Sea of Marmara and behaving as a ancestral range between Europe and Asia.

Turkey has 80 million inhabitants, and 15 million of those throng into Istanbul, that deserves a verb ‘bustling’ some-more than any other capital I’ve visited.

Istanbul crams dozens of markets, mosques, museums, restaurants, shops, bazaars and cafes into a desirable streets. It creates we utterly dizzy.

I went to see what Istanbul has to offer a weekend visitor, and how protected it is for a lady exploring alone.

The Blue Mosque

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
(Picture: Lucy Mallows)

We start with a ‘Big Three’ in a Sultanahmet district. The Blue Mosque, supposed by visitors since of a implausible Iznik tiles, is indeed a Sultan Ahmet Mosque after Ahmet I, who built this overwhelming structure in 1616.

It’s a operative mosque, so 5 times a day it’s sealed to a open and you’ll hear a muezzin job a true to prayer.

The rest of a time it’s giveaway opening but, to see a fanciful interior, take off your shoes, dress modestly and be prepared to enclose a saturated light-blue dress – group too – if your spare legged jeans are deliberate too sexy.

Hagia Sophia

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
(Picture: Getty)

It’s suspicion Emperor Constantine built a Christian basilica here in 325 on a site of a non-believer temple. It burnt down twice, so Emperor Justinian consecrated a third in 537, a coral pinkish building we see today.

In 1453, when Constantinople fell to a Turks underneath Mehmet a Conqueror, a Hagia Sophia became an majestic mosque. In 1936, Atatürk incited it into a museum.

Climb a long, circuitous spin ramp for an extraordinary perspective from a top gallery of a 8 hulk medallions temperament a names in Arabic book of Allah, Mohammed, his dual grandchildren and a initial 4 caliphs.

Topkapi Palace

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
(Picture: Lucy Mallows)

For scarcely 400 years, this pretentious Topkapi Palace was a chateau of a Ottoman sultans and about 1,000 of his concubines, sealed divided in a expensively flashy harem.

Mehmed a Conqueror started building this house of love, training and supervision in 1462.

Each subsequent sultan total some-more mosques, libraries, kitchens, stables, schools and fort until it was a tiny city – an Istanbul in miniature.

Grand Bazaar Spice Bazaar

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
The Spice Bazaar (Picture: Lucy Mallows)

With some-more than 4,000 stalls on 66 labyrinthine streets, and restaurants, mosques and a hamam, this obstruction of mayhem is a world’s largest lonesome market.

It’s easy to spend an afternoon here, admiring a carpets, ceramics, bullion and china jewellery, scarves, lokum (Turkish delight), while sipping apple tea with a desirable – and really impressive – shopkeepers.

The Spice Bazaar was built in 1664 as partial of a Eminönü New Mosque complex, that is frequency new (1663). Come here for all your herbs, spices, nuts, dusty fruit, teas, oils and honeys.

The traders have resourceful and humorous approach of attracting your attention. ‘How will we means my new greenhouse?’ wailed a grinning shopkeeper.

Dolmabahce palace

A revisit to a Dolmabahce Palace feels like a outing to another country.

This elaborate Baroque and Neoclassical masterpiece with a Rococo filigrees seems really European, like a Versailles by a Bosphorus.

Built by a Ottoman Empire’s 31st Sultan Abdülmecid I, in 1843-56, after they’d changed out of a a Topkapi Palace, construction cost some-more than £1 billion in today’s prices.

It scarcely bankrupted a Ottoman Empire, and helped spin it into a ‘sick male of Europe’.

In 1924, Atatürk, a owner and initial President of a Republic converted a house into a chateau and formidable of supervision rooms.

In a rite Hall, the ginormous 4.5 tonne candelabrum is a largest clear candelabrum in a world. This was suspicion to be a present from Queen Victoria, until 2006, when they found a invoice. Victoria had charged £9,000, or £6 million today.

All a clocks in a Dolmabahce Palace are set to 9.05am to symbol a time of genocide on 10 Nov 1938 of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a ‘father of a Turks’.

The Museum of Innocence

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
Chapter 50: ‘This is a final time I’ll ever see her’ (Picture: Lucy Mallows)

In 2008, a Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk published an implausible novel, The Museum of Innocence, revelation a story of a adore event between a rich Kemal and his bad apart relations Füsun.

Pamuk collected equipment over many years and, in 2012, non-stop a genuine museum in a rather grotty behind street; his four-storey imagining on memory, nostalgia and mislaid love.

Visitors have created their possess adore messages in some of a hardback translations of a novel on show. It’s a good pick-up dilemma for those of an artistic warning anticipating to accommodate their supportive soul-mate.

Entrance is £6 but, if we have a novel, there’s a giveaway sheet in section 83, ‘Happiness’.

A vessel float on a Bosphorus

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
(Picture: Lucy Mallows)

The Bosphorus is one of a busiest waterways in a universe and a best place to perspective a overwhelming city skyline of minarets, towers and complicated skyscrapers is from a water.

Jump on a internal packet during Eminönü and take an exhilarating, 20-minute float opposite a water, “to Asia” as a soldier shouted.

With my Istanbul ride card, we took a discount 55p packet float opposite to Kadiköy and visited a internal fish market, divided from a normal traveller spots.

Maiden’s Tower and a Princes’ Islands

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
Maiden’s Tower (Picture: Getty)

Kiz Kulesi – or Maiden’s Tower – is reached by a tiny packet on a short, 200-metre float from Üsküdar, on a Asian side of a Bosphorus.

A building on a mini-island was initial mentioned in 410BC, when a Athenian commander Alcibiades built a building to control a thoroughfare of boats from a Bosphorus and assign a tariff.

According to legend, an czar had a dear daughter and an seer prophesied that she would be killed by a lizard on her 18th birthday.

The czar close his daughter away, protected from snakes, in a building on an island.

On her 18th birthday, a czar took her a basket of fruit to applaud avoiding a curse.

However, an asp was also in a basket. It bit her and she died in her father’s arms.

The desirable Princes’ Islands are a sequence of 9 tiny islands in a Sea of Marmara.

No motorised vehicles are authorised and this, total with a peace and overpower of a hunger forests, forlorn beaches and wooden Ottoman summer houses, make a lovely contrariety to a city’s chaos.

Basilica cistern

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
(Picture: Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism)

This enchanting, windy construction is partial of a city’s ancient complement of subterraneous reservoirs. Built in AD532 underneath Byzantine Emperor Justinian, a vaulted section roof of this outrageous cove is upheld by 336 Corinthian columns.

Creepy song plays as we make your approach along a walkways to a distant dilemma to revisit dual outrageous heads of Medusa. One conduct is on a side, a other is upside-down, though historians don’t have a idea why.

The cisterns have implausible acoustics and Madonna and Pavarotti have both warbled among a flowing columns.

Istiklal caddesi

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
Istiklal caddesi, Istanbul’s answer to Oxford Street, and a nostalgia tram (Picture: Lucy Mallows)

No matter a weather, Istanbul’s homogeneous of Oxford Street is packaged with crowds of shoppers, families and visitors.

Istiklal leads from a clubbing prohibited mark of Taksim Square, and meanders down a peaceful slope flitting cafés, conform stores and unconstrained street-stalls charity fry chestnuts and grilled corn.

You might have to reserve to stand a 14th century Galata Tower, but it’s value it for a 360-degree scenery of a city and a waterways. It’s quite regretful during sunset.

If we don’t have a appetite to ride behind adult to Taksim, we can float on a quaint, little, red nostalgia tram, that looks like it belongs in Lisbon.

Galata District

12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
Anglers on Galata Bridge (Picture: Lucy Mallows)

Walk down from a Galata Tower to a Galata Bridge and ‘do an Agatha Christie’, by job in for reviving tea and cake during a patisserie of a Pera Palace Hotel.

The hotel was renouned in a 1920s with travellers who’d usually arrived on a Orient Express. Other guest enclosed Ernest Hemingway, Mata Hari and Leon Trotsky – not together of course.

The Galata Bridge links Ottoman-era Istanbul with a complicated neighbourhoods of Beyoglu and Galata on a northern side. The overpass is lined with fishermen, here from emergence ’til eve while a lower-level corridor binds 34 fish restaurants charity dishes held that really afternoon.


12 reasons to revisit Istanbul this summer
The Frida Kahlo cake during a 15th International Istanbul Gastronomic Festival (Picture: Lucy Mallows)

Turkish cuisine is so many some-more than kebabs and coffee.

You usually have to see a immeasurable kitchens during a Topkapi Palace to know a stress of food in a Ottoman Empire.

At a time of Süleyman a Magnificent, there were 150 recipes for aubergine.

The full Turkish breakfast is a noble mixture of eggs, peppers, cheeses, yoghurts, fruit, halva, honey, pastries – and olives, for breakfast!

Food is everywhere in Istanbul; a streets are pressed with cafés, patisseries, kebab shops, reddish-brown and sweetcorn stalls. Men unit a streets offered ‘simit’- tough bagels lonesome in sesame seeds, or creatively squeezed pomegranate juice. Tourists sip apple tea as they admire a sensuous rugs and scarves, locals splash black Turkish tea in tulip-shaped eyeglasses and coffee so thick, a ladle stands up.

For a tasty fish supper, join a locals for a balik ekmek – fried, freshly-caught fish in a baguette with onions lettuce, a discount during £2 from one of a restaurants underneath a Galata bridge.

I attended a 15th Istanbul International Gastronomy Festival, where bake-off insanity has truly taken off. Cakes creations enclosed a motorbike, Harry Potter scenes and a terrifying conduct of artist Frida Kahlo that we would never brave punch into.

After a prolonged weekend in this smashing city, we consider I’ve held Ottomania.

Find out some-more about Istanbul here

Safety precautions: Foreign Office advice

Current during Jun 2017

British nationals done some-more than 1.7 million visits to Turkey in 2016.

It’s generally protected to ride to Turkey, though a UK Foreign Office advises that visitors be warning to vicinity and sojourn observant in swarming places renouned with unfamiliar nationals.

There are dual bag checks during all airports in Turkey, during a opening and during pass control.

There are x-rays and bag checks during mosques, museums, hotels, bazaars and other open buildings.

Everybody we questioned pronounced they felt as protected as during home and ‘an conflict could occur anywhere, it’s a underline of complicated life’.

Several British adults pronounced they felt some-more protected in Istanbul, since of a vast numbers of armed military manifest on a streets and a many confidence checks in open buildings and ride hubs.

I walked around on my own, took open ride and mooched about a markets for 4 days and never once felt uncertain or threatened.

If you’re in Istanbul and we urgently need help, call a British Consulate in Istanbul: +90 212 334 6400. Mesrutiyet Caddesi 34, Tepebasi, Beyoglu; Mon-Fri, 8.30am-1pm and 1.45pm-4.45pm.

Where to stay

I stayed during a Titanic City Hotel near Taksim Square, ideal for selling clubbing.

Superior bedrooms from €54, fine bedrooms from €94

How to get there

I flew Turkish Airlines from Gatwick to Atatürk International Airport. Return tickets cost from £119.

Flights take usually underneath 4 hours, though we get comfy leather seats, cinema and music, and delicious, giveaway dishes with drinks.

Istanbulkart (Istanbul ride card) costs £1.50 from newsagents. Charge it adult with cash.

Single journeys on buses, trams, ferries, metro, funiculars cost 55p (with a Istanbul card, £1 without).


It’s elementary to get a e-visa online.

Valid for mixed opening for 90 days, it costs about £15.50 ($20).


Turkish Lira (TL) TL4.50 approx = £1.

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