Istanbul Guide

Bebek Bosphorus 3


Somehow I ended up spending the last week in Turkey. It has been a secret dream of mine to travel to Turkey since high school (I originally wanted to study abroad here but timing didn’t agree). I think it was my complete and utter love for AP World that pushed my dream over the edge – I love history and Turkey is the epicenter of so many histories and cultures. If anything, my trip to Istanbul (and Central Turkey) made me fall even more in love with this place and its people. I cannot say kinder or more honest words about Istanbul and Turkey. I think I met my match – an old friend who I will return to time and time again. I keep replaying these moments over and over again, hoping that soon I can return. I hope these photos exude the kind of love and awe that I feel for Istanbul.

Ciragan Palace 1Ciragan Palace 2

Istanbul is quite the city – most of its tourist destinations are located extremely close to each other (Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar). It was so easy to move from place to place – we often found ourselves in the same areas time and time again. My favorite areas that I visited were Karakoy and Bebek. I dragged a coffee-deprived mother to Bebek and we fell in love with its serenity. The first photo was taken along the waterfront path in Bebek – it was so nice to remove ourselves from the hustle of Istanbul (whilst remaining in Istanbul). Other sites to see are Galata Tower, Dolmabahce Palace, Ciragan Palace and Istanbul Modern. My most memorable experiences were experiencing golden hour from a Europe-to-Asia boat ride and receiving a Turkish bath (OMG!).

I am no expert on travel or Istanbul but my biggest recommendation would be to stay near a metro station. We were located a bit further from the center but directly next to a metro station. It made it all the better to know that after a long day on our feet we could walk right off the metro and into our hotel. Also, apps like CityMapper and Google Maps often failed us when we tried to locate restaurants or places. We would probably ask 5 different people where something was until we inevitably found it. By the end of our trip, we thought it was odd if we didn’t struggle finding our restaurant. So carefully plan any trip that is not a tourist destination (such as a restaurant or shop) because these places will not be pointed out on a sign or a map!

In these photos, I challenged myself to capture Istanbul apart from its notable landmarks. A visual guide to Istanbul – in hopes that you too can experience its magic. More to come on food and Cappadocia!

Topkapi Palace Harem 2Topkapi Palace Harem 1

Bosphorus Ferry 4

I cannot recommend a boat ride enough. We ended up getting a transit card for our week in Istanbul and caught this commuter train to Kadikoy (on the Asian side). I was happily snapping photos when a man recognized what I was doing and began throwing pieces of bread off the side of the boat. Before I knew it, there was a cluster of birds flying along side the boat, posing for my pictures (or rather trying to get a piece of bread). This moment was truly a testament to the kindness of the Turkish people. This man created this moment just for me. A million thanks go out to him.