Turkey – Istambul

What to do when you travel to istanbul.

This complete guide is based in our own experience from our backpacking trip to Istanbul.

Mosques, ferrys, markets, religions, street food and a lot of sound.

Colours everywhere, a massive mix of cultures and religions, even if the 96% of the locals are muslims, you can see people of all the colours and dressed up in all the imaginable ways.

TOP 5 – FREE THINGS TO DO IN ISTANBUL

1– Get lost in the Grand Bazaar:

This extremely big and old place (more than 500 years old) full of streets going up and down, right and left… It took us at least 4 hours to be visited, it doesn’t matter what you need: there, you will find it. The smells and colours make the grand bazaar the most exotic place in istanbul.

The original entrance with more than 500 years.

2- Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque:

This incredibly big structure of more than 400 years is located in the central part of Istanbul, place where thousands of people go everyday. It is also nice to take a sit in some of the benches in the park and observe the daily local life getting mixed with the many tourists.

3- Try for free the typical turkish sweets…

How to? Easy! Go and ask them what are the flavours and the names of the ones that you want to try and almost always they will offer some.

4- Visit Gulhane Park:

This is one of the few green spaces that we found and it is beautiful. If you need a break from the rollercoaster of feelings and noises that the city offers, you can buy some take-away lunch and eat it there!

5- A ferry ride in the Bosphorus:

Normally you have to pay for this but if you are lucky like us there are some special days where you can have them for free!!!

The experience:

From the very moment of our arrival we received the warmy help of the turkish people.

We needed to take a bus from the airport to the ferry’s zone. In order to do it, you will need a card that you can buy from the yellow machines for 6 Turkish Pound and you need also to charge it with 5.25 TP for each ticket (you can only pay with local money so change yours in the airport) and remember that the machine is not going to give you change.

After 50 minutes with the E11 bus we arrived to Kadikoy Station (place of the most trendy and touristic attractions). The different stations are close one to the other and you can see the destinations written outside (you can also ask to the people but don’t expect a high english level in Turkey).

We had to go to Besiktas, so after 10 minutes walking we found the right place, not without going to a wrong one first hahaha. With just 1,9 TP we got to the upper part of the ship and enjoyed a beautiful 15 minutes ride.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

+ If you arrive after 21:00 you will have to take a taxi or a bus because the ferries stop working at that time.

+ In the ferry station you can get some free WI FI.

We were in a totally different culture, happy and, as usual, REALLY HUNGRY!

It was dinner time for us and we decided to go for a vegetarian Rice Pillaf. We paid only 7 TP!!!

How to find it? … Really easy. There are those little tables with little chairs along the streets. Just order and enjoy your first typical meal.

Rice pillaf is really tasty and you can fill up with a really low price (it is important to say that la gringa was feeling full and that’s not easy at all.)

 Don’t miss the opportunity to try the çay, that’s the name for the typical turkish tea and is also really cheap. 

With our stomachs full and already in our Air BNB (we couldn’t find couch surfers because it was holidays time and most of them were not home or they were with their families) it was time to recover energies: the second day was arriving with a lot of things to do.

We decided to walk from Besiktas to the grand bazaar. If you go straight ahead you will walk around 5.5 kms but that was not our idea: we wanted to know the city so it took us more than 10 kms and 3 hours to arrive.

You will see Mosques everywhere and almost all of them have free toilletes, if you don’t have the proper dresses they will provide them to you.Rules and important things to know for entering to mosques.

In our way to the Grand Bazaar we found this amazing park called Gulhane Park. It is free and you can walk and chill out, it’s perfect for the hot days because you will find a lot of trees and green areas for resting, there is also a museum but it’s not free.

From there to the grand bazaar it took us another hour walking (of course we didn’t go directly) and once we arrived the compendium of stimuli started!!!

Colours, smells, products, languages, flavors and a lot of people! From the very beggining to the very last it was an experience full of sensations: this is certainly the best market that we have visited until now. It is almost an obligation to bargain, the prices are set with that idea, we got to pay things 80% less than the price that was given at the beginning. The place is a giant laberynth. We had a great vegan lunch for 25 TP (around 2 euros per person), we bought some turkish pants after a lot of bargaining and we had some tea. 

The temperature was a thing to consider, it’s REALLY HOT and la Gringa, as usual, got some sun burn :D.

The Blue Mosque is totally free (of course they accept donations). People pray 5 times a day, you will notice when, and during that time the access is forbidden; as far as we know is the same for all the mosques.

In order to go to the asiatic part we took a ferry for free!!! It was a special national day and all the public transports were open to everybody. To be honest we didn’t like it, it was worth it just to say “We’ve been in Asia”

We want to make a special mention to http://coffeetalks.com.tr/ it is not such a typical place but the energy and the smile that Eda provides is amazing.

She loves travelling so the way that she receives travellers is warm and open minded.

If you want to see all our photos don’t forget to visit our instagram.

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