If you have less than 4 days to spend in Istanbul, follow this guide to experience most of what Istanbul has to offer.
For a casual shisha (hookah) lounge and great people watching, go to Huqqa in Bosphorus. They have a full menu for drinks and foods. Everyone goes for the shisha so don't feel obligated to order food or cocktails.
This is a great place to dress up and order bar service. Travel Tip: If you don’t want to shell out the Turkish lira to purchase VIP bottle service, just order shots from a high top table and request the sparklers. The high top tables are FREE.
Visit some of the many live music venues. Who knew that Istanbul had amazing local singers. Frankie Istanbul is more of an upscale mature jazz lounge. You hear a range of live jazz, Latin and Turkish tunes.
Any Istanbul is a lounge with live performances starting after 10:30 PM. Any is more casual with a younger clientele. You'll hear American pop and Turkish tunes.
A Turkish Bath or Hamam is the Middle Eastern version of a steam bath. You should book this a few days in advance if you plan on partaking over the weekend or want to go with your opposite-sex partner. There aren't many that will allow men and women to book at the same time. Remember, this is a 90% Muslim country. Travel Tip: Book an evening appointment. Your body will thank you after a long day of walking. Ladies, if you don't feel comfortable going in the nude, wear your smallest 2 piece so they can scrub all parts of your body.
Enjoy Dinner or Cocktails With a View
Dinner in the Bosphorus area is a must. You'll find many waterfront romantic seafood restaurants. They are on the higher end. With the dollar being strong, you can order (2) salads, (2) entrees, (2) ouza (Turkish liquor shot) and (2) glasses of wine all for 100 USD.
City Lights Restaurant & Bar in the Intercontinental has the best views right before sunset. Make sure to get a seat by the window. Travel Tip: Be sure to use your IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. You'll earn 25 points total per $1 spent here.
Start your morning by stretching and eating a hearty breakfast The Grand Bazaar is next. This market is one of the largest and oldest markets in the world. Expanding over 61 streets with over 4,000 shops, you will get lost. All of the shops sell the same spices, Turkish delights, and counterfeit goods. If you find something you like, barter, purchase, and move on. Don't exhaust yourself by trying to price shop. There are 4,000 shops selling the same thing! Afterward, head over to the Spice Market. Make sure to sample the various spices before purchasing and negotiate. Feel free to try the different tea they offer. They are really good and FREE.
Tour the many historical sites and mosques. There are many historical sites to fill your day. Travel Tip: Download the free Rick Steve's Istanbul walking tour. With this guide, there is no need to pay for a tour at any of the main sights.
Cruise between Europe and Asia- Istanbul is the only city in the world that’s on 2 continents.
People watch at Taksim Square. This is a packed area with tourists and locals for nightlife, shopping, and restaurants. This is a long pedestrian street that offers a cute vintage tram.
Have you been to Istanbul? What were some of your favorite things to do and see?