We never really thought Istanbul was worth it. If we intended to visit it initially, after the attacks of two or three years ago, it was crossed off from our list. Besides, we wondered Istanbul as a different city from what we found, with small buildings and run-down houses. More so, we had been in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, and none of us had liked these destinations. This was, thus, the third time we opened our hearts to a Muslim country, and we’re glad we made it so!
Now let’s get to the point:
How to get there:
Ataturk’s airport no longer exists and while this one was located 20 minutes from the center, the new Istanbul airport stays at a 55 minutes’ drive. There are not many options: you can take a taxi, bargain with local passenger transport and get to choose if you go private or sharing, or you can take the bus.
Where to stay?
We stayed hosted at Sanat Hotel Istambul, near Taksim. It is a busy street, but even with that, we didn’t hear much noise. The taxi stand it’s only 20 meters from the hotel.
Sultanahmet is also an alternative to be close to the important monuments and, we notice it was a little bit more expensive, because of that.
What to eat?
Kunefe – cake but no cake. Made with cheese and a sweet topping, which makes it a desert.
Kebab – they are in every corner. The best we had was next to the Grand Bazaar. You can choose chicken, lamb, or mixture.
Pomegranate juice (Nar) – Delicious!
Kumpir – it is a potato that you can fill with what you want. Cheese, vegetables, everything is allowed. There are a lot of places to choose from at Ortakoy’s entrance.
Fish sandwiches – popular in Eminonu harbor.
Salep – a hot drink you can buy on the street.
Mussels – sold in a lot of places and on the street. In a controlled environment, people say it is good, but our trip was in the beginning so, it didn’t felt like a good option.
Simit – a bread with seeds on top, and you find it in every corner inside pushcarts.
How to get around?
The public transport network is developed and very good. We were in a very central area, so we decided to get around by taxi, and we didn’t pay more than 5€ per fare. Each one was around 3,5/4€. In Sultanahmet, it is super easy to walk and is a better option to get to know the city. The metro is fast, very comfortable, and CHEAP.
If you stay for several days, there is a card, Istambul Welcome and it costs 30€, which gives entrance to a lot of monuments and museums.
If they want to make a deal about the taxi fare, don’t do it. They will say that it is more expensive with the taximeter, but it is not, it is half of the price.
Make sure you organize your trip because they don’t speak English very well and if you need to ask directions to anybody on the street, write the names of places in Turkish on your cellphone. They don’t understand the monument names in English.
The plugs are the same as in Portugal, so you don’t need adapters.
Check out our Instagram page for more photos: @allaboardfamily