In April I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Istanbul for a Uni-fieldwork. We had planned to work on our project for 2,5 days, but we decided to add a few more days to our trip to explore the city. So all in all we had 5 days for our fieldwork, and exploring the city.
During our fieldwork we saw way more than the touristy sides of the city and we even ended up in places we you wouldn't find other tourists, well we got lost. But thanks a lot to the nice people in Istanbul who always helped us and brought us back home.
Today I don't want to tell you all about the touristy things you can do in this amazing city, you can read that in every travel guide. I want to tell you my personal 5 tips for exploring the city.
1.)Let yourself drift through the city!
During our fieldwork we could already visit the most important places of the city so on our free days we had more than enough time to stroll around the city and explore. It is so nice to just wander through the city and (literally) get lost in it. We even had a day where we want around without any plan of what to do and what to see. We sat down in tea- or coffee shops or just random places and watched the people going by. We got sucked into the city and its inhabitants and had an amazing day, without planning a single step.
2.) Food and drinks
Before we went to Istanbul everyone told us to be very careful with what and where we eat. I'm someone who has a very sensible stomach and even I had no problem with the food! Of course we didn't eat everything but we only had great experiences with the food and people selling it... except in the very touristy spots of the city, where we got ripped off. We learnt from that and avoided the tourist places for our meals.
Turkish food is amazing and if you go down the side streets, it is also very cheap.
If you go to Turkey you also have to try Turkish coffee. Nothing my kind of coffee but let's talk about the tea. Wherever you are you get amazing tea. On every corner you can drink black tea, apple tea etc. and it is delicious. We were often invited for tea and when we ordered in Turkish, they often served us free.
3.) Find roof terraces
A lot of people don't know that Istanbul is built on numerous hills. So if you want to see the whole city you should look for some places with a roof terrace. Our hostel had a terrace overlooking the Marmaraysea. We found an amazing rooftop on a Burgerking (next to Ordu Caddesi) overlooking the old part of the city. Not far from the Taksim Place there is the 7. Cat Terrace Bar, a restaurant on the 7th floor with good food and a nice view. If you walk through the city you'll find a few rooftop places. Go there, drink a tea and enjoy the amazing view!
If walk towards Karaköy (coming from the old part of the city) you cross the Galata Bridge. Turn immediately left and you will find the fish market. Pass the stands with all the fish and you will find yourself surrounded by little "restaurants", actually just some random places where they grill the fresh fish. You sit down on plastic chairs next to the water, watch the ferries go by, listen to the muezzins and eat amazing, super simple fish-sandwiches. We were there numerous times for lunch and stuffed ourselves with those sandwiches. I know they don't look amazing, but they are simple and delicious.
5.) The sunset in Üsküdar
One evening we took the ferry from Eminönü to Usküday, so the Asian part of the city. You don't even realise that within 15 minutes you are from Europe in Asia, but you are still in the same city and the same country. When you are there, walk next to the sea towards the south. At the level of the lighthouse there is a small cafe on the steps next to the water. Sit down, order a çay and enjoy the amazing sunset. It is amazing, you can see the city in a total different light. You can watch boats and dolphins pass by and enjoy the peaceful moment (until the muezzin starts singing, which is just an incredible atmosphere as well)!
I hope you got a little look inside our amazing trip to this beautiful city.
And for all the German readers out there, listen to this song about Istanbul, no more words needed! He sings about everything we've experienced!
Pictures by me and my amazing travel-partners!