Pro Tip: Wait for a cooler season to travel to Istanbul. The beginning of September is scorching hot! The best times to go are March to May and September to November. I would wait until the end of September to go! We were sweating the whole day while trying to sight see!
Good Food and Views: If you ever in Istanbul and are looking for a good bite and a view, I recommend visiting Henna Hotel Istanbul! I mean, let me clarify, THE BEST view in Istanbul can be found at the Henna Hotel, in addition to a tasty Turkish breakfast!
We did not stay there but the rooms were reasonably priced and the hotel is brand new! They had a soft opening in April 2021! The customer service here was great and accommodating!
The closest airport to this hotel is the Istanbul airport, which is about 47min away. The terrace provides you views of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, and the sea. Check out the tik tok I made below of my breakfast experience!
In addition to this hotel and the view, you HAVE to try Kokorec! It's a delicacy in Turkey. This is basically grilled bowel of lamb. You can find it in almost every walking street! I think about the sandwich from time to time even now. SO BOMB!
Attire: Istanbul is 90% Muslim so you will see majority of women in a hijab . I wore workout clothes most of the time, which was fine but I walked through the courtyard of the blue mosque and was scolded by many! I eventually bought one so that I could be respectful of the culture!
Mosques: Sultan Ahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque was built in 1609 and 161 A.D. Tourists, like myself are attracted to not only the beautiful blue tiled interior design but also the tradition and importance in history of the Ottoman Empire. The Blue mosque is still actively used for daily prayers.
We walked through the courtyard of the mosque and were intrigued by the line. At the time, the mosque was closed off to non-Muslims for 90 minutes because it was prayer time. This happens every prayer time. There are five prayer times daily!
Hagia Sophia: I feel like a lot of us learned about the Hagia Sophia in school. In the Byzantine world, the Hagia Sophia served as a place of worship, politics, and art! Hagia Sophia means holy wisdom and was built by the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian as a Christian Cathedral in Constantinople. It's been called the "8th wonder of the world" by art Historians
Turkish Ice Cream - The experience of the Turkish Ice cream tricks is very unique and fun to be a part of. I unfortunately do not have access to the video of me being "tricked' by the Ice cream but after watching the video I linked above, you will see the type of experience you would have, if you are up for it! The ice cream man was pretty quick. The taste of the ice cream did not necessarily stand out to me but it was the overall experience that made the most memorable. Fun time!
The Grand Bazaar: The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest markets in the world! This market covers 61 streets , and over 4,000 shops in the area! It was built in 1453 to provide financial resources to the Hagia Sophia! There is a bank that sits in the middle of the Grand Bazaar! As you can imagine, this popular landmark gets pretty busy during the day and attracts between 250-400 thousand visitors daily. Get there early!! :)
I hope this post has enticed you to visit the beautiful Istanbul! I wish I had more time to explore. My experience was based on a two day trip! The culture is rich and the people were wonderful; very welcoming. I definitely would like to return :)
Bonus recommendation! If the opportunity present itself, Turkish Airlines provides the cutest Versace Toiletry Bags for business class passengers~