(14-17 june 2014)
Istanbul is a city with over 13 million inhabitants, true moral capital of Turkey and crossroads of history and culture, with the head in Europe and soul in the Middle East.
It’s literally halfway between the East and West of the world, te single cities around the globe to be suspended between two continents. You can perceiv the dual personality of Istanbul when you just arrive in the city, characterized by a crowded skyline of domes and minarets (there are more than 2,500), representing a deep Muslim culture, which is associated with an unexpected modernity made of elegant palaces, the great arteries road, excellent transport links.
It’s a city where you get an immediately sense of security, even when you reach the harbor area. The citizens of Istanbul are always pleasant, in shops, in museums, in the streets. Tourists are very careful and sometimes, especially in restaurants, even a little … plucked!
A cosmopolitan city, where you can meet in the street women with headscarves and even covered by the burka (maybe with an expensive SLR) and, a little farther on, Turkish and foreign tourists in the neck with scantily clad women as in any European city, a perfect coexistence between a well-accepted Western culture and a more traditional culture that still stands.
The tour can start from the Hagia Sophia Museum and the nearby Blue Mosque, just a few meters from each other. Also within walking distance, the Cistern. The Topkapi Museum, not far and still in walking distance, requires at least a whole morning for the visit.
Remember that in the prayer times you can not visit mosques and other holy places.
ARRIVAL (at the airport)
The main airport of Istanbul is to Ataturk Airport, 13 km away from the city.
You may change the equivalent in Turkish lira 100 €, so you can make the first purchases, such as the metro ticket.
In periods with large tourism flows you can find long queues at customs. The controls are in fact very scrupulous. If you go with an ID card (rather than with the passport) checks are longer. They must be completed of the input sheets and is immortalized by a photograph signs.
The quickest and cheapest way to get to the city center is to use the metro, convenient and efficient.
Exit the airport you head to the right and follow the signs of the meter. The stop is called Havaalani. Tickets must be purchased (which are actually plastic tokens to be included in affixed slits turnstiles). The cost is really low (the equivalent of EUR 1.20). It’s possible to buy tickets from vending machines comfortable entering lire Turkish. Take the metro (blue line, M2) in the direction of Aksaray. Get off at the sixth stop Zeytinburnu. Then, you have to take the T1 tram line. But you have to pay for another ticket (thus, the airport must be purchased two tickets for one person!). The tram is in the direction of Kabatas and runs through the city. If you have chosen a hotel in the central district of Sultanahmet, you have to get off at one of the stops Sultanahmet, Gulhane, Sirkeci and Eminonu, depending on the hotel selected. You need 45-50 minutes, far less than the taxi that faces the busy streets of the city.
NOT TO BE MISSED
The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)
The grand bazaar
WITH A LITTLE MORE TIME
The Yeni Mosque
The Galata Tower
The boat trip on the Bosphorus
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Ilkay, central, walking distance to all major attractions of the city and from the tram line T1. Rooms spacious and comfortable, economical prices, decent breakfast
(Hudavendigar Street No: 44-46 Eminonu, Istanbul)
Tram T1 Gulhane stop
WHERE TO EAT
The Han Restaurant (Alemdar Caddesi 26)
Istanbul Balik Restaurant (under the Galata Bridge)
Blue Kitchen İstanbul (Hüdavendigar caddasi no: 5)