Intriguing and magical: Welcome to Istanbul!

by Lexa Pennington / Dec 17, 2014 /
Lexa Pennington's picture

Some places on earth are just magical, full of mystery, and have far too many places of interest to visit during one break alone. It’s down to personal preference, but for me, Istanbul is one of those places that no amount of visits would ever be enough to explore the whole city in its entirety.

 

Istanbul

Wikimedia Commons: Mstyslav Chernov

 

It’s quite easy to get to Istanbul no matter what the month of the year. The last time I visited was January last year. Travelling during winter does have its perils of course, with possible bad weather, but I combatted that by driving myself to the airport and booking my airport parking in advance. This is a service that is available no matter where you’re flying from, and not just limited to the major airports. I’ve used Edinburgh Airport parking on numerous occasions, so I can certainly vouch for that one. Check out what’s available near you.
 
The beauty of visiting Istanbul is that it’s a bearable four hours’ flight from the UK, and once you arrive you’re practically in the heart of the city. I’ve flown to both Sabiha Gokcen Airport on the Asian side of the city, and the huge Ataturk Airport, right in the city centre, on the European side. If you’re pushing me for a preference, I’d say Sabiha Gokcen, simply because it was easier to navigate, however it did take around an hour to get to my hotel because of the traffic, which at times in Istanbul can be horrendous. Despite that, the drive was magical, right over the Bosphorus Bridge, so don’t let this put you off.

 

Bosphorus bridge at night

Wikimedia Commons: Bruno decottignies

 

Istanbul is, of course, the only city in the world to straddle two continents; there is the Asian side and the European side, and they’re linked together by the Bosphorus Bridge. You can drive over it, and within seconds be on a different continent, or you can choose the traditional way and go by ferry, feeding the rather hungry seagulls as you go!

 

Ferry in Istanbul

Wikimedia Commons: elif ayse

 

There’s a huge amount to do in the city, so you’ll need to do your research before you go, but The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, Taksim, Istiklal Street, and a wander around Sultanahmet should all be on your to-do list.

 

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Wikimedia Commons: Georges Jansoone

 

Night-life is basically centred around Taksim, so it might be worthwhile staying in this part of the city, for ease of getting back at night, and then catching the Metro to Sultanahmet during the day for your sight-seeing needs.

 

A trip to Istanbul does require planning and a little insider knowledge, basically to make the whole trip easier, but once you’re there you’ll easily be swallowed up in the sights, sounds, mystery, and intrigue that makes Istanbul so special.