This is a fantastic place! I loved the Galata area, with all those old buildings. Also Istıklal Street and Tunel's nightlife is incredible. You can find it nowhere else in the world.
There is nice weather in mid-March, historical monuments, very friendly people, good meal, and of course our excellent tour guide and well organized tour service. Besides this we experienced tours outside the city to ancient ruins and we must admit that we were a little bit afraid of traveling alone, but we were really treated by the tour organizers like members of their families.
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Istanbul is one of the beautiful and magnificent cities in the world. I fell for Istanbul and will visit Istanbul again soon for the second time. I can't get enough of Istanbul.
I've never seen such a fabulous nightlife before Istanbul. Explore Istiklal Street.
I stayed in Istanbul for 5 unforgettable days and managed to avoid all tourist guide landmarks. If you are looking for quaint beauty and authenticity, explore Istiklal Caddesi and its sideways in Beyoglu in the evening time. Take a morning ferry to the Princess Islands (especially Buyukada - the Big Island). Take your special person for a quiet stroll to the seaside park in Fenerbahce. The best thing to do in Istanbul is let your feet carry you and get lost in the maze of old town streets and let miracles happen to you.
As a native of Istanbul and being someone who visited 20 countries (12 of them were european), I can tell that Istanbul is the best city of the world. You may be surprised when you'll see long Baroque streets or the sky scrappers in Levent and Maslak. So don't simply expect spice odoured bazaars and mosques. Also take a tour of Bosphorus, it has some of the most exciting and unforgettable scenes which you can ever see in your whole life. Finally, try to go to Princess island which is situated just half an hour from the city (and there are municipality ferries for 0.60 euros one way). Many tourists don't go there but it's a great place.
If you're like me and on a package tour with included accommodation, the best map I've seen of Istanbul is sold for just US$2 at Cordial House HI just off Piyerloti Caddesi up towards the sights. They also have a bar and cafe which I would recommend.
Istanbul was the destination of the legendary Orient Express. It's the gateway between Asia and Europe. In fact the city of Istanbul is half in Europe and half in Asia, with the Strait of Bosphorus splitting it down the middle. Most of the hostels in Istanbul are located in the European (west) side of the city, along with most of the cultural, political, business, and tourist attractions.
The European half of Istanbul is itself split in half by a water inlet called the Golden Horn. On the south side of the Golden horn is Eminönü/Sirkeci (the center of the city), which is next to Sultanahmet (the old city). This is where you will find most of the historic sites, including Topkapı Palace, the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the bazaars. There are a great number of hostels and other accommodations clustered within this small, easily walkable area. It's touristy, but if you want to be close to the historic sites, this is the place to be.
On the north side of the Golden Horn is Beyoğlu/İstiklal, which is the modern cultural city center. The area is focused around the extraordinary shopping avenue İstiklal Caddesi. This pedestrian avenue and its side streets are where you will find all the best restaurants, shopping, and nightlife in Istanbul. There are plenty of hostels close to İstiklal and it's a great place to be if you want to enjoy the cultural and nightlife of Istanbul.
Don't worry too much about choosing a hostel in the right neighborhood. Whether you're in the new or old city, it's quick and easy to get where you want to go either by hopping on the tram or simply by walking 20 minutes or less.
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