Istanbul for the weekend

Europe, Europe 2012, Turkey — By on December 21, 2012 12:34 PM

While a weekend in Istanbul is not long enough to fully explore and immerse yourself into the fascinating city, it is possible to see many of the cities sites thanks to a great public transportation system and easy to navigate streets. My good friend Evelien flew from the Netherlands to spend a long weekend with me in Istanbul.  We managed to see and do quite a lot in between just relaxing with a hot cup of apple tea and catching up on the past  three years since we last saw each other.

Below is my recommendation of 10 things to do and see in Istanbul.

1. Visit the Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia was once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum. Just beautiful!

Hagia Sophia

Inside Hagia Sophia

2.  The Grand Bazaar

A must see and must shop experience. Turkish rugs, lamps, jewelry, spices, clothes, paintings, pottery, you name it, they have it! If only I could have fit more in my backpack!

Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey

3. Visit the Blue Mosque

Travellers call it the Blue Mosque but Turks call it the Sultan Ahmet Mosque.

Blue Mosque

Ceiling of the Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

4. Buy fresh fruit from a street vendor

delicious fresh fruits,

5. Take a boat tour of the Bosphorus

on the Bosphorus

Boat tour of the Bosphorus

6. Tour Topeka Palace

This palace is huge, allow at least a half a day to explore and be sure to visit the harem quarters.

Topeka Palace

Inside the Harem in Topeka Palace

7. Eat well

Turkey is a meat lovers paradise.


Don’t like meat? There is other delicious food to be had.

Delicious food

My favorite restaurant was Hamdi, where the food and views were amazing.

Süleymaniye Mosque as seen from from Hamdi Restaurant

 8. Drink well

Fresh squeezed orange juice is available on almost every street.

Cheers to fresh OJ and friends! I also got to spend a day in Istanbul with Dasha before Evelien arrived.

Drink many cups of delicious apple tea.

Enjoying tea in a favorite local spot.

9. Eat Turkish Delight

With so many different flavors you can taste test for hours. YUM!

10.  The Basilica Cistern

Go underground the city to see ancient cisterns and two columns with Medusa head carved into, the origin of which is unknown.

Basilica Cistern. Photo credits to Dasha Kouznetsova

Medusa’s head carved into pillars

And if you can do all of this with a good friend even better!

Me and my friend Evelien

To see more photos of Istanbul, Turkey CLICK HERE.

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