We are planning to go for a few days at the end of June. Anyone been? Where is a good area to choose a hotel, and how long is enough to see all the main things without having to run around like maniacs? Ta.
Yes, it was brilliant. We went in August for three nights, and it was very hot. We stayed in a lovely small hotel, and when I remember what it was called, I'll PM you. We saw most of the main attractions, went on a river trip etc in three days. It was exhausting but wonderful.
Yep - amazing! We stayed on the European side - away from all he main tourist sites - which are easily accessible during the day - but the restaurants while ok are touristy - better food and more licensed restaurants on the European side. The city I busy 24/7 and is the least threatening city I have ever visited. We stayed for a week - we cold have stayed longer!
I love Istanbul, I have been there 3 times. We stayed once in Sultahahmet, which is where the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar are and it is very beautiful there, the hotels are more traditional. We also stayed in Taksim, which is where the main shopping streets and the lively bars and restaurants are.
I enjoyed both parts, there is so much to see there but you can get most of the main attractions in during a 3 day trip. You will get some fantastic food there, don't go to the obviously touristy restaurants and the food will be better and a lot cheaper.
I've been twice for a week, once with family, once with MrNC. Both times stayed in small hotels on the edges of Sultanahmet. The trams were great though wasted half a day second time trying to buy a pass that didn't exist, so we just got single tickets. You could easily fill a week, though as the city was flooding we left 12 hours early last time (November and 3000 homes flooded. The rain wasn't a problem until then though).
Lots of great food - ask the staff in the mosques or museums for recs. There's one traditional Turkish baths that lets men and women in together, which was great for me and MrNC - up the hill by the red mosque. Previously went to the main touristy ones- mine reeked of fish being cooked on camping stoves in the changing rooms, and my dad got offered 'extras' for extra money, followed by demand for extra money not to provide the extra services!
Highlight of last trip was the ceramic tiled mosque over on the Asian side - it's 'top 10' lists of things to see, but you need to get the ferry over and then a cab up the steep hills, but thoroughly worth it. The imam showed us all round and was delighted to see us as apparently they only get a couple visitors a month. Then got ushered into the adjacent hall with a little tea room (just like a church hall) and treated to tea. Wandered back to the ferry through the residential areas - much, much poorer than the European side. But again some excellent cheap restaurants.
If there's something expensive you want to buy, do set aside a couple hours to haggle over it and enter into the spirit of it. We got leather coats, MrNC's made for him, collected it a couple days later. Only irritant is people trying to sell you carpets all the time, but my friend from Istanbul says it happens to locals too.
Just beware of credit card scams- we got our card skimmed at a rug place (yes I know- tourist trap! but seduced by friendly people and offers of tea etc...) Topkapi palace is amazing and a trip on the river is a must.