Anyone been to Istanbul?

I have to be there on 19 July from early in the morning until midafternoon. Is there anything I can reasonably expect to see/do in that period of time?

Unfortunately, I’ll probably be very tired, since my flight from Moscow leaves at 04:20. :mad:

Awaiting the inevitable TMBJ reference…


I was there in 1989, so I’m not sure how much has changed since then, but God I loved that city. Half a day, though, is nowhere near enough to do it justice. This is one of the great world cities of all time. Maybe the best overall experience would be to take a boat ride around the Bosphorus and Golden Horn to take in a wide view of the city in a compressed amount of time? The Bosphorus provides incredibly beautiful scenery that is not to be missed.

Edit: MacTech, dammit, I wanted to post the first response and instead I got ninjaed by that stale old joke. The only thing that occurs to most people’s minds on hearing the name. Thought we could do better this time.

I’d love to stay longer, but I’m flying to Canada in the afternoon. This was by far the cheapest ticket (and the only one I could afford). :frowning:

I’d see the Blue Mosque and if I had time the Topkapi Palace. Yeah, they’re touristy, but you are a tourist, and the Blue Mosque is a breathtakingly beautiful building.

The Blue Mosque is nice, but the Hagia Sophia is 800 years older and twice as impressive. I’d go there instead.

I was stationed near Istanbul in the early 90s. The Blue Mosque, as mentioned, is an awesome sight. The covered bazaar is pretty cool to visit as well. Also, don’t forget to try the doner, apple chi, and Efes.

They’re also right next to each other and you could possibly get to the area (by metro, even) and go to both in the time you have.

Topkapi Palace is awesome, but takes time.

No I have not,terentii, but I have been to Constantinople. I’m very old, you see… :wink:

I was there in '98. Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, the Fish Market in Eminonu and the Grand Bazaar in Suleymaniy were highlights. I thought the Topkapi Palace was overrated, and the Walls of Theodosius were a huge letdown.

Istanbul is absolutely my favorite city. Given your timetable, it might be hard to do much. Do yourself a favor and buy a printable tourist visa online before you go; the lines at customs can be staggering.

Turkish Air offers free bus tours of the city for people having long layovers. I’ve never done it, but I bet you could find out more with just a little googling and I think they facilitate your exit/entrance at passport control.

That’s nobody’s business but the Turks

My sister used to live there. Several years ago another Doper asked about visiting Istanbul, and this is the answer she gave him.

My sister says any taxi driver should easily get you there and back. The Turks pronounce it Aya Sofia. Or ask to be taken to Sultan Ahmet, which is the area where all the main tourist attrraction are, within easy walking distance. There’s the Blue Mosque, and the Aya Sofia is across the park from the mosque. Behind Aya Sofia is Topkapi palace and the archeological museum and a pathetic zoo you shouldn’t waste your time at. You should easily do these in an afternoon and are the must-see tourist attractions. At this point you’re also within walking distance of the Grand Bazaar. In Turkish that’s called Kapali Carsi. That will have all kinds of tchotkis. To say “I don’t want it” say “istemem”. Or click your tongue at them. That’ll get rid of annoying people selling crap. The bazaar has carpet merchants, brass, gold, etc. If you need a break, there’s Istanbul University that has a nice book market with a quiet tea garden. That’s right off the Grand Bazaar. All around Sultan Ahmet are small hole-in-the-wall restaurants with good food, and a good restaurant in Topkapi Palace.

If the weather is good you can take a ferry up and down the Bosphorus. You take a short trip for an hour or two. Don’t be intimidated by all the soldiers with guns. The have a conscripted army and have to do something with all those guys.


Here’s the link to the free tours of Istanbul, you have to be a passenger of Turkish Air, though.

Looks like the airport has just been hit with a terrorist attack. Keep up on the news before traveling.

I had a date there, but she never showed. :frowning:

Here’s a link to the Huffington Post article.

Istanbul is one of the worlds most fascinating cities. It’s worth multiple visits.

Um, the OP may want to delay that visit.

Absolutely. I made several trips there when I was working in Sofia, Bulgaria. The leather coats alone are worth a trip to the market. But the first sight of the city is like stepping back in time to the middle ages. I enjoyed each visit, other than when the taxi driver tried to kill us all on the Corniche.