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Public transport is a cheap and largely fuss free. Where possible choose the metro, trams and ferries to avoid heavy traffic and unreliable bus timetables. Ahead of your journey, you will need to purchase the city's transport fare card Istanbulkart from metro stations or city kiosks.


Taxis are affordable but are mostly cash only. Avoid getting stuck on the road by checking your estimated travel time or avoid rush hour before choosing this option.


We recommend mobile apps City Mapper and Yandex to help you plan your journey within the city.

Image by Özcan ADIYAMAN


Where: The Old Town 'Sultanahmet'

What: Sightseeing, eating

We love: Haghia Sofia & Suleymaniye mosque, Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi restaurant

The Old Town is jam packed with must see historic sites from 6th century architectural masterpiece Haghia Sofia to the 16th century Ottoman palace of Topkapi adorned with beautiful tiles offering breathtaking panoramic views.


Rather than visiting the busy Blue mosque, we recommend Suleymaniye mosque for its intimate garden and facade that gleams in the sun.

For lunch, stop by the historic establishment 'Tarihi Sultanahmet  koftecisi'  for a true taste of Turkish meatballs, not to be confused with copy cat "Sultanahmet Koftecisi".

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Where: Eminonu

What: Sightseeing, shopping, eating

We love: Grand Bazaar, Rustem Pasa mosque, Altan Sekerleme, Pandeli restaurant

A shopper's paradise for its Turkish leather goods including stylish jackets and deliciously authentic looking 'designer' bags as well as artisan jewellery and a rich spice selection. 

The Grand Bazaar truly is large, fret not as the closed shopping space also features small cafes offering a boost for the serious shopper. Or head over to time capsule of old sweet shop Altan sekerleme for a genuine sugar boost.


Try Pandeli restaurant for a filling lunch of tasty ottoman delicacies located at the top of the spice market with fantastic views of the Golden Horn. Sadly it closes up at 6pm before dinnertime.


Where: Cukurcuma and surroundings

What: Relaxation, arts & culture, shopping, eating

We love: Cukurcuma & Kilic Ali  Pasa hamam, Cuma cafe,  Masumiyet museum

Explore the charming cobbled streets of Cukurcuma dotted with antiques shops, boutique art galleries and attractive cafes offering quality brews and world cuisine catering to all - including plant based diets.

Visit a Turkish bath or “hamam” in Turkish. Splurge on the less common unisex hamam at Cukurcuma for a shared experience, where the traditional scrub and massage meets modern spa. Or opt for a short 15-minute downhill stroll to the Boshphorus front to the historic Kılıc Ali Pasa hamam; an intimate mosque with a hamam extension for luxurious treatment in majestic surroundings, with the beautiful mosque also well worth seeing.



Where: The Golden Horn 'Halic'  

What: Exercise, sightseeing

We love: Istanbul Tour Studio - 'I'm rowing in Istanbul' , Pierre Loti hill

Halic, or the Golden Horn is the sea inlet on Istanbul’s European continent dividing  the historic old town from the rest of the city, not to be confused with the Bosphorus strait separating continents Europe and Asia.


With stunning views of both the old and new city adorned with bridges, ports and passing boats, Halic is well worth seeing.  At dusk or dawn, cacth the teleferic to Pierre Loti hill and grab a seat at its cafe to watch the sea glisten in the sunlight.

Explorers may prefer to row on the Golden Horn for an exhilarating workout surrounded by spectacular city views. Experienced rowers can hire boats outright while novices can take a short lesson before joining the waters accompanied by a professional instructor.

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Where: Prince's Islands

What: Exercise, sightseeing, eating

We love: Burgazada - Marta Bay, Kalpazankaya restaurant, Sait Faik Abasıyanık museum

A leisurely ferry ride down Istanbul’s Bosphorus canal is not to be missed. Take in scenic views packed with historic monuments from both continents, sip on Turkish tea and watch seagulls dance the skies and dolphins ride the waves.


We recommend taking the ferry out to the Prince’s Islands in the Marmara Sea just off Istanbul’s coast.


Burgazada is one of the more charming islands, largely unspoilt compared to the larger islands with a more commercial feel such as Büyükada. Dip into the sea at Burgazada’s Marta bay and take a scenic half hour walk to the other end of the island for a meze and seafood feast at Kalpazankaya; arrive in time to soak up the panoramic views over sunset, weekend bookings are a must.



Where: Kadikoy & Moda

What: Nightlife, shopping, culture

We love: Arkadoda bar & club, Halka Sanat Projesi art, Moda antique shops, Fazil Bey’s Turkish Coffee

Located on Istanbul’s Asian side, Kadikoy has emerged as a popular hangout spot among Istanbul’s hipster and artist communities. Enter the laidback oasis of cafes, bars, antiques shops and galleries with an old school tram passing through its labyrinth of narrow streets with a scenic backdrop of the Marmara sea.


Try an art workshop at Halka Sanat Projesi, or head over to one of the many cafes nestled in the bustling streets for people watching, tasty grub and an authentic Turkish coffee fix.  Visit Fazil Bey’s Turkish coffee café for its historic décor and ambient Turkish folk music. As the cafes turn into lively bars by night, get a taste of Istanbul’s nightlife by dancing in Arkaoda, or relish a cold beer at Zeplin pub.

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