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Attractions we visited in Istanbul

Most of the admission fee to the major attractions is 25 Turkish Liras (TL).

Blue Mosque  
This is the only attraction that does not charge any admission fee.  However, entrance to the mosque comes with strict proper attire.  Only specific times are visitor allowed to enter.  The Turkish name is Sultanhamet Camii.  Known as Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior.  5 minutes walk from Sultanhamet tram station.   more….

Hagia Sophia  
Turkish name is Ayasofya –  a former church, later a mosque and now a museum.  It is just next to Blue Mosque.  Queue to enter this place was, believe me, very long.  Very popular tourist attraction.  A very huge place with its Byzantine architecture.  During our visit, there were some renovation work going on.
The tranquility of this remarkable museum was somewhat, I felt, being tarnished by the tons of tourist.   more…

Topaki Palace
This was the first attraction we visited while in Istanbul.  One word,  awesome !  It is huge.  Unfortunately, it was very crowded.   The splendour and opulence of this palace was beyond description.  If you want to see the House of Harem, additional admission fee of 15TL is required.  more…

Hippodrome
In its glory days during the Byzantine period, it was a sporting and social centre of chariot races and other entertainment.  Thinking it was a U-shaped structure, we were having hard time locating such a shaped monument in the Sultanhamet area.  Later, we realized we actually passed it a few times.  It was just in front of the Blue Mosque.  Today, it is a square with a few fragments of the original structure surviving.  The Turkish people call it Sultanhamet Meydani.   more…

Basilica Cistern
Located about 150 meters southwest of Hagia Sophia, this cistern built in the 6th century is another popular attraction in the Sultanhamet area.  Admission fee is 15 TL.
There was a long queue when we were there.   Inside it was dark with a few feet of water lining in the bottom, this is the largest of several hundred cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul has the capacity to store 100,000 tons of water.  Imagine the size!   more…

Dolmabahce Palace
We took the tram from Sultanhamet station to the Kabatas station.  About ten minutes walk from here. This is a very crowded interchange station where the ferry terminals are also here.  Admission fee to this palace is higher than other attractions.  Full tour is 40 TL.  Partial tour is 30TL.  We joined the partial tour which took about 45 minutes.  You cannot wander yourself.  Need to be in a tour group conducted by a palace protocol officer.  No photography allowed inside.
Built between the years 1843 and 1856 on the European coastline of the Bosphorus strait, this was a magnificent construction of gold and crystals.  Has an area of 11.2 acres, 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths and 68 toilets !
It is just beautiful.  Worth a visit.  Nearest tram station = Eminonu.  more…

Grand Bazaar
One of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world.  With its 3000 shops, it is quite impossible to cover all in a day.  However, you can soak in the atmosphere of this bazaar like we did.  You can find almost anything you need here.  I changed some Turkish Liras here.  One thing, I noticed, was most if not all shop service staffs are men.
It is opened daily except Sunday.  With its unique fascination and beauty, it remains one of the major landmarks of Istanbul.  Nearest tram station = Beyazit.

Spice Bazaar
It is the second largest covered shopping complex after Grand Bazaar.  Also known as Egyptian Bazaar.  We came here quite by chance.  After our Bosphours trip, we wandered around and found ourself in the midst of this market.  It is just opposite the IDO ferry terminal.  Bought nuts and preserved apricots from here.  Fresh and cheap.  Very interesting to walk around here.  Nearest tram station = Eminonu.   more…

Bosphorus Cruise
Bought the full tour ticket for 25TL per person from Sehir Hatlari counter for the relaxing trip along the Bosphorus Straits.  The Bosphorus Cruises Prier is located on the right docks of Eminonu when coming off the Galata Bridge.  It was very crowded and full of activity.  Beware of private tour operators touting you to buy their overpriced tours.
Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri(IDO) and Sehir Hatlari are Istanbul’s official ferry companies.  The full tour ferry took about 90 minutes one way.  Most people got off at the last dock at Anadolu Kavagi.  We explored this little island  and went all the way up to the fortresses built in the 17th century where we were rewarded with the spectular views of the Black Sea.
Nearest tram station = Eminonu.   more…

 Princes Island
This was another day trip we took while in Istanbul.  Again, it was very easy to go.  We went to Kabatas (by now, were quite familiar) to take the ferry.  5TL per person.  We alighted at the biggest and most popular of nine islands = Buyukada.  About 50 minutes pleasant and smooth plus very sunny trip.
I found Buyukada very touristy dotted with hotels and restaurants.  The streets were clean except with lot of horse dung.  No public motorized vehicles allowed.  Horse drawn carriages were plenty – more for the tourists than locals.  We paid 60 TL for carriage ride tour around the island for about 45 minutes.  Quite a nice way to spend a lazy afternoon.  Bicycles were also available for rental.  Streets here were flanked by beautiful wooden Victorian cottages and untouched pine forests.  I saw some wild horses wonder freely in the forests.  I tend to believe they were being owned.
Nearest tram station = Kabatas.   more…

 Istanbul Archaeological Museums
After our visit to Hagia Sophia, we just explored around and came to this museum by chance.  It was a blessing in disguise.  I am not a museum guy but was glad that I came.  There are 3 museums consisting of Archaeological Museum(main building), Museum of the Ancient Orient and Museum of Islamic Art( Tied Kiosk).  Admission was 10 TL per person.  During our visit, some the exhibition halls were closed for upgrading/renovation works.  It can easily take up 3 hours or more to see it all.  We were exhausted but were glad there were chairs in the air-conditioned buildings as well in the garden for visitors to rest.
 Do not miss it.  Open from 09:00 to 19:00.  Closed on Mondays.  Nearest tram station = Guihane.

 Next to this museum is the Guihane Park.  Free entry.  It is the oldest and one of the most expansive public parks in Istanbul.   more…

 Taksim Square
During our visit, luckily there was no any violent protest going on (though since 28 May 2013, protests were being reported).   The square is located at the northeastern end of Istiklal Caddesi, a long pedestrian shopping street.  If you love shopping, this is the right place.  It was so packed with people.  It is a major tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops and hotels. 
We also took the Nostalgic Tram just to enjoy the experience.  We had our dinner at one of the many eating places.  The price was greatly elevated.  Not worth it.

 Asia Side
Though many tourist attractions are on the European side, the Asian side also provides an interesting side trip.  We visited the Asian side without any fixed plan to see.  Just went and explored.
We took the Dentur Avrasya ferry from Besiktas Iskelesi (which is located at Kabatas ferry point) for 3TL per person.  About 12 minutes later, we were at the  Uskudar of Asian side.  As it was almost 3pm, we needed to have something to eat.  Went to Paci Café, near the waterfront for lunch.  A mistake.  Food was not good and price steep.
We walked along the waterfront till the point of Maiden’s Tower Island.  Then we explored around and came to a place called Uskudar Balikcilar Carsisi, a kind of market where many kinds of fish and seafood were sold.  Nearby, was a shopping area where we spent our time wondering around.  more…

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This entry was posted on June 17, 2013 by in travel.
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