Istanbul Turkey Travel Guide

Istanbul Turkey Travel Guide
A Vagabond Life

Istanbul Turkey Travel Guide A Vagabond Life

Embark on a journey to Istanbul, where the past and present converge in a mesmerizing dance along the banks of the Bosphorus. Turkey’s cultural capital, Istanbul, weaves together centuries of history, blending the remnants of Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman empires into a vibrant tapestry. As you stroll through the bustling markets of the Grand Bazaar or marvel at the architectural magnificence of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, each step in this city feels like a walk through time.

Situated strategically between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is not merely a city; it’s a bridge between continents. The iconic Bosphorus Strait serves as a symbolic divider, connecting the ancient neighborhoods of Sultanahmet and the modernity of Beyoğlu. The city’s diverse neighborhoods offer a kaleidoscope of experiences, from the lively street life of Kadıköy to the artistic ambiance of Karaköy.

Istanbul’s culinary scene is a feast for the senses, where the aromas of kebabs and spices linger in the air. The warmth of Turkish hospitality is evident in the tea houses and baklava-filled cafes that invite you to savor both the flavors and the conversations. Istanbul is not just a destination; it’s an immersive odyssey, a journey through time, culture, and the vibran

Istanbul Turkey Table Of Contents

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Istanbul Turkey

Travel Tips Istanbul Turkey

Istanbul’s public transport system is as confusing as it is extensive. There is an huge bus system, including city-run and private buses, as well as one high-speed Metrobüs line; an extensive light rail system including six Metro (underground) lines, four Tramvays (aboveground), three Fünikülers (ascending/descending), two mini-lines called Teleferik, and the Marmaray (underwater) lines; and the ferries which travel the Bosphorus.

When using the istanbul public transport system you can either use a token for a single trip or buy an Istanbulkart. It is a good idea to buy and Istanbulkart if in Istanbul for more than a day and intend to catch public transport. It can be used as a ticket on buses, trams, suburban trains, metro, and some cross-Bosphorus ferries. The cards can be re-loaded at designated booths located at any major bus, tram, and metro station.There are different booths for buying a card and for charging it…very confusing for visitors

While the Istanbul public transport system is confusing we found google maps very useful for working out what tram / bus / train we needed and when it departed.

When To Go To Istanbul

Jan – March can be cold with rain.

April – Warm and sunny with cool nights. The Istanbul Tulip Festiva; is held in April

June and July – Warm to hot with balmy nights. Jazz music festivals are happening around town

August – Hot, steamy and crowded.

September – The weather is milder and quite pleasant.

Oct – Dec – The days grow shorter and weather colder.

Istanbul Weather Averages

Daily highs (°C)7810152025272724191310
Nightly lows (°C)224812161818161285
Precipitation (mm)98807046363439486197111124



  • 2 pants, include one black pair that can double as ‘good’
  • 1  shorts
  • 1 x singlets – good for layering and sleeping in
  • 4 short sleeve tee shirts or shirts.
  • 1 x long sleeve sloppy joe or similar
  • 1 x polar fleece jumper
  • 1 x zip-up shell jacket
  • 1 x lightweight windproof raincoat
  • 3 x socks
  • 5 x underpants
  • 2 x bra
  • 1 x  Northface Dipsea 
  • I x warm hat (if there in winter)
  • 1 x sun hat (if there in summer
  • 1 x warm gloves (if there in winter


  • 1 x pair walking shoes
  • 1 x pair flip flops (great for showers)


  • Travel Towel
  • Lush Bar Shampoo
  • Bar of Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Brush / Comb
  • Hair Ties


  • 1 x Earbud headphones. Light and small,
  • 1 x 6S iPhone loaded with music and podcasts
  • 1 x power bank


  • 1 x GoPro Hero 5
  • 2 x Spare GoPro Batteries
  • 1 x LUMIX TZ80
  • Spare micro SD Card

Other Stuff

  • 1 x headlight or torch **essential
  • 1 x Swiss knife
  • 1 x medical kit
  • Refillable water bottle

Things To See & Do In Istanbul Turkey

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque)

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque)

The Blue Mosque is covered in hand painted blue tiles which gives it the nickname. Built between 1609 and 1616 under the rule of Ahmed I it is still a functioning mosque with men praying daily at the call to prayer. The Blue Mosque has 5 main domes, six minarets and 8 secondary domes. All in. All the Blue Mosque is a pretty impressive building

Topkapi Palace 

Topkapi Palace 

I enjoyed Topkapi Palace set in lovely gardens it is in a fabulous location right on the Bosphorus its a pleasant way to spend day. Built in the 15th century as the home and headquarters of the Ottoman Sultans.

Topaki is big – it has 4 main courtyards and many small buildings. A visit to the Harem, where the Sultans wives lived is interesting. Topaki was transformed into a museum in 1923 at the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Hagia Sophia 

Hagia Sophia 

Hagia Sophia started its life in 537 as a Greek Orthodox Church, and at the time was considered an architectural marvel. The fourth crusaders converted it to a Roman Catholic Cathedral in the 1200’s  and then in 1453 it became a Ottoman mosque and was the largest cathedral in the world for 1000 years until Seville opened in 1520. Hagia Sophia was secularised and re opened in 1935 as a museum

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is pretty cool. It is one of the oldest and largest markets in the world. Construction started in 1455 when the Ottomans took control of Constantinople, over the years the Grand Bazaar was ravished by fires and earthquakes with it being repaired after each disaster.

Today the Grand Bazaar is visited by 250,000 + people a day, so go early. While there find a cafe and have an apple tea – its suburb.

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern are impressive ancient cisterns deep beneath Istanbul. Commissioned by Emperor Justinian and built in 532, the cisterns serviced the Great Palace and could hold up to 80,000 cubic metres of water via an aqueduct 20 kms away – amazing. It became abandoned forgotten about until 1545 but it took until the mid 1980’s for it to be fully restored. Excellent place to visit when it is very hot.

Galata Tower

The Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower built in 1348 by the Genoese. At the time it was the tallest building in Istanbul and today is still a significant landmark. Galata tower is in the Galata quarter of Istanbul just north of the Golden Horn & Bosporus junction.

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