Our guide to Istanbul

07 April 2021 Travel time: with 10 March 2021 on 17 March 2021
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If spring does not come to us, then we ourselves will fly to spring! It was our eighth Istanbul and, as always, we received such a charge of positive and warmth that I will continue to agitate everyone to visit this cozy city! And most importantly, Istanbul cannot spoil even the maximum lockdown that began just before our arrival. Let's list the advantages of the trip:

  • The number of cats in the city has tripled, now cat therapy is waiting for you around every corner.
  • Tourists in this city are just as much loved by both cats and locals.
  • There is no curfew for tourists.
  • On Sultanahmet, in the Fatih district, restaurants are ready to feed tourists around the clock.
  • The Princes Islands may be completely free of coronavirus, as there are almost no people there, at least on the first two.
  • Now not only parrots, but also storks have settled in Gulhane Park.
  • About what restrictions were in effect at the time of the trip, I wrote here.

    The first thing we saw upon arrival was Asian tourists dressed in chemical protection suits, they kept the mask strictly on their noses, but they kept eye protection on their foreheads))) We didn’t know all the rules of the city yet, so we were on the alert. We went through customs rather quickly, got on a bus that goes to the center, and began to study passers-by on the street. Almost everyone is wearing masks. I have a feeling it won't be easy for us. As soon as we got off the bus, we bought a “temporary mask pass” - simit, this is such a bagel with sesame seeds.

    Now while we take turns chewing simit, we have a reason why we're not wearing masks. The mask mode is certainly important, but we have a negative PCR and have antibodies, so we feel relatively calm without a mask, although it is also possible to get sick a second time. While we were walking towards the hotel, our “pass” ended. Then the following rule applies: if an oncoming policeman wears a mask, he will politely ask you to put on a mask; if the oncoming policeman is also without a mask, then there is a draw, and you just disperse in different directions. In any case, if the place is crowded and it is impossible to keep a distance, then everyone puts on a mask unconditionally.

    The hotel manager met us with such joy as if he had been waiting for us all morning, he called us by name when we approached the hotel. They explained to us that first tea, and then the solution of all issues. We love Turkey very much for the love of the locals for tea, and not for alcohol. We received and connected a hes code to our Istanbul card, now it is active and you can use transport, and the state will know about our every move, even about going to the toilet, since payment for the trash can is also made by Istanbul card. Now we have access to shopping centers, all public transport, and some restaurants also require a hes code. That's how easily and quickly introduced total control by the state. Specifically, I have only a positive attitude towards this, since I am not going to do anything illegal. And what's more, if my cabin door jams, they can find me! ))))

    Now the hash code needs to be presented in the form of a QR code, I think the next step will be automatic scanning of eye biometrics, like at the Dubai airport. The only negative of all this is that now everyone has to buy an Istanbul card personally and, accordingly, monitor the balance on all cards at once, which is not very convenient. At first we didn't know that you couldn't use one card for three people and got into a situation where Misha went through the turnstile to the ferry, but we couldn't get through. I ran quickly to buy two more cards, but without the hash codes they are not valid, and the ferry will leave in two minutes. Luckily, turnstiles also have a heart and can come down. If you click the card about 20 times without an attached code, then the turnstile will give up and let you through. This life hack was shown to us by an employee.

    This time we flew to Istanbul for a week and personally this week was not enough for me, I understand that I would love to live in Istanbul further, but now with half-open borders we have a whole plan to catch up on travel, so Istanbul week will be just right for now. Istanbul was undoubtedly happy to see us, so much so that they even canceled their weather forecasts and gave us sunny weather for almost the entire week. This week we will have to visit all our favorite places, as well as discover everything that we wanted to see for a long time, but put it off. Every morning we started with breakfast in front of the Blue Mosque.

    We have a special love for Turkish breakfasts, which I have repeatedly sung about, and indeed for Turkish food. I have a simple rule in Turkey: I didn’t eat Iskander kebab in a day - the day was wasted. I cannot explain why I love this particular dish so much, but perhaps in a past life I myself was Iskander kebab. In addition to the gastro tour, I had a goal to ride boats along the Bosphorus to the fullest. To say that we have exceeded this goal is to say nothing. This was our main mode of transport. In what other country can you afford such cruises for half a dollar per person. Moreover, the route of the day was formed as follows: where the nearest boat is sailing, we start from that place. If there is a storm on the Bosphorus, and this also happens, as it turned out, then you can always use the Marmaray metro line, part of which runs under the bay. An interesting fact is that one of the metro stations is located on the minus ninth floor. And you need to go by elevator, and all intermediate floors are also present. An important life hack of this branch: at the exit from the station, you need to pick Istanbul with the card for the second time on the “Refund machine” and part of the money will be returned to the card, depending on the number of stations that you have passed. The branch itself is so long that we set a new record for a trip on the subway, we traveled one way for an hour and a half. Now, the previous record set in China, where we drove 54 subway stations, seemed like a kindergarten to us.

    The metro took us to the city of Gebze, which is located not far from Istanbul. There should be an interesting embankment there. When we arrived in the city, it turned out that, in general, there was no embankment, we had to walk to another city, Darica. Why on foot? Since you need a special card to travel in the city, so either bother with another card, or catch a taxi that has not stopped, or walk downhill for an hour, and you are there. On the way, we stopped at a small cafe, where a very hospitable hostess was sitting with her daughter. If you ask for beautifully Turkish coffee in Turkish, then you will definitely be asked about the level of sugar in coffee, but since our knowledge ends there, and the hospitality of the hostess is just beginning, the negotiation process dragged on. Her daughter laughed all the time with how we could not explain ourselves to each other. The woman tried very hard to please us and offered more coffee, tea and cookies, all in Turkish. And she forced Dasha to disinfect her hands (as we found out on the next Turkish trip, there is such a Turkish tradition to splash guests with lemon cologne on their hands so that their hands smell pleasant). As a result, we all laughed at the language barrier, but we drank tea and coffee and ate cookies. When we went into the distance, a woman with her daughter waved after us for a long time. Despite the fact that the embankment in the end turned out to be not worth it to get to it for half a day, this trip to the cafe charged us very emotionally. We spent the whole day afterwards remembering the best moments from trying to explain.

    Now I want to introduce you to our favorite places in Istanbul, which we have discovered for ourselves in 9 years.

    Fatih District

    This is the base point of tourist routes, it is here near the historical center of Istanbul - Sultanahmet - you need to choose an inexpensive hotel. It's a funny fact that on the very first trip we didn't know about the existence of this area and it was an incredibly pleasant discovery. In this area, you need to visit the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cistern, but only after the water is returned to it.

    Gulhane Park

    This is one of my favorite parks in the whole world. Giant trees grow here, on which families of parrots have settled, and now also storks. The park is very spacious and has access to the embankment. A visit to the promenade should be a must after a walk in the park.

    Eminö nü

    If you know the name of this area, then you will never have problems getting back home by ferry from any corner of Istanbul. A nice feature - here near Burger King they sell insanely delicious ice cream. From the pier itself, ferries depart, probably to all corners of Istanbul, including the Princes' Islands. But not state-owned, but private ferries go to the islands here, for us personally, their schedule was less convenient than that of the state ones, although the price seems to be the same.

    There is also the Egyptian Bazaar. We used to be rather cold towards him, but this time we appreciated him very much, well, that’s right, where else can we go to the market during the coronavirus.


    A very atmospheric area with many restaurants, located on the right behind the Galata Bridge. To the left of the Galata Bridge, there is an excellent embankment for admiring the sunsets.


    There is one of the many multi-colored steps leading up the mountain, and this is also the pier from where state ferries sail to the Princes' Islands. Also here is the Dolmabahce Palace, a visit to which is also a must, but keep in mind that it closes quite early.


    One of our favorite areas of the European part of Istanbul. It is very beautiful here in the evenings when the yellow lights are turned on. It is here that Kumpir is sold - baked potatoes, in which many fillings are applied.

    I would not say that the potatoes are particularly tasty, but you need to try them to know the taste of the area. The cost is 30 lire. On the first trips, we made a walking route from Sultanahmet to Ortakö y, and then back by bus through traffic jams.

    Taksim and Istiklal Street

    To be honest, our least favorite part of Istanbul, a lot of people and not that atmosphere of the city. Although, out of interest, a historical tram runs here and the Galata Tower is located. But we do not include this area in our routes, although it is considered the center.

    Yildiz Park

    Despite its mountainous terrain, this is an excellent park for walking, relaxing at a table and admiring the Bosphorus.

    But there you have to go straight up. At the top of the park there is also a cable car to another park.

    Emirgan Park

    Another cozy park, I think it is best to visit it during the tulip season. We liked it a little less than Yildiz, but nevertheless we also recommend it for a visit.

    Rumelihisar Fortress

    We didn’t get there, but we walked nearby, we liked the embankment and the views of the fortress. From here we sail home to Eminonu by ferry. It will be an amazing cruise with a great view of the fortress.

    Uskü dar

    Asian part. There is a cool Turkish market here. It is located inland and to the right of the pier, if you stand with your back to the Bosphorus.

    Then we go upstairs and walk around the Fethi Pa? a Korusu park, there is a cafe with an excellent panorama, after which we go down to the Kuzguncuk area, there are beautiful streets and houses.

    It is best to sail back by ferry, returning to the Uskudar pier, you can also use the metro.


    Asian part. There is just a fantastic promenade and a very cozy area of ​ ​ the old town with a walking street. You can just walk wherever your eyes look, everywhere it will be nice and cozy.

    Princes' Islands

    We have been to all, really liked the island of Burgaz Adas? , from its hills there are beautiful views of the islands. The island is not very popular with tourists, so there are few people and no horses with carts.

    The island can be reached by city ferry from Kabatas. I also liked the rest of the islands, if you plan to return to Istanbul again and again, then each time choose a new island for yourself.

    More things to watch

    Art on the stairs. Mostly they are painted in a rainbow, but sometimes real masterpieces come across.

    Favorite restaurants

    Our favorites for the price and range of food are two neighboring restaurants Ortaklar Kebap and Mevlana Kebap Lahmacun. They are simple, inexpensive and delicious.

    Favorite food. Here I will list only the most favorite dishes, the names of which I know. Ideally, all the listed dishes should be distributed throughout the day and do not forget to open dishes that are not on this list. I know it's not an easy task, but traveling to Istanbul is first and foremost a gastronomic journey, no one said it would be easy.


    Each time upon arrival we traditionally start with roasted chestnuts. You may not like them at first, but give them a chance and they will forever be a taste of Istanbul.

    Ekmek Balyk

    Fried fish in bread. Everything is simple here, I didn’t taste Ekmek Balyk - I haven’t been to Istanbul. If you tasted it, then fly to Istanbul and taste it again. It is sold to the left of the Galata Bridge, and also comes across in various places on the embankments.

    Iskander Kebab

    Kebab in tomato sauce with yogurt. Here I have one more rule: Iskander did not eat - the day was wasted! I sing odes to this dish, probably, in every story about Turkey.

    Kö nefe

    Fried cheese dessert. I consider it to be one of the top desserts in Turkey. Hard to miss, this dish is usually on banners in many restaurants.

    Baklava and other sweets

    To be honest, it took us about 9 years to love them, but now we are devoted fans.

    Bö rekç isi

    A puff pastry dish with various fillings, the most successful in our rating is salted cottage cheese.


    An excellent meat appetizer, a great addition to any meal.


    Turkish pizza, our favorite with minced meat.


    Stuffed grape leaves, we almost always order sarma as an additional dish.

    Turk Kafesi

    Turkish espresso with grounds. I consider it to be the most photogenic drink in Turkey.


    Being in Istanbul and not drinking fresh juice every day is a crime, I think it should be introduced at the legislative level.


    This is one of the positive aspects of winter Istanbul. Hot and fragrant “manochka” with spices in a glass.

    Food as art.

    Taysty kebab (aka Pottery kebab)

    The main thing is to choose a restaurant where they know how to serve it beautifully. This is a show dish in the form of a kebab in a burning pot. We had the most spectacular serving in Cappadocia at the La Vida A la Carte restaurant.


    Turkish street ice cream served as a show. Here, too, it is important to choose a good master. A distinctive feature of real masters is that they will actively invite you.

    A little about the locals

    It's no secret that the real owners of Istanbul are cats, the owners of the Bosphorus are seagulls, I'm sure many will agree with me here.

    Travel Information

    Date of travel: 03/10/2021 – 03/17/2021

    Duration: Week

    Tour type: Weekend

    Flights: Sky Up

    Hotels: Booking

    Excursions: All by yourself

    Difficulty of the trip: 0/10 (Second home town)

    Translated automatically from Russian. View original
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