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  • Writer's pictureKatarina Zlatkovic

Istanbul, Turkey

Updated: May 17, 2023

Visiting Istanbul for the first time

Istanbul is one of the few cities I adore and would go back to, anytime and always.

The city with so much soul, history and culture.

The city that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait.

The great Constantinople.

Even though I have stayed only four days, I tried my best to capture and enjoy Istanbul as much as possible.

Here is a few suggestions on where to go and what to do, especially if you're on a budget or short on time.



Top 5 places to visit:

1. Sultanahmet Camii aka Blue Mosque

Sultanahmet Camii aka Blue Mosque

This historic and functioning mosque was constructed between 1609 and 1616 year during the rule of Ahmed I. Hand painted blue tiles adorn the mosque's interior walls, it has five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. It is located just next to Hagia Sophia so it is pretty easy to find it and there is a tram line T1 that stops on a station Sultanahmet. The best time to visit is early morning to avoid the big crowds. There is no entrance fee.

Blue Mosque Istanbul
Walking through Blue Mosque in Istanbul

2. Galata Tower

Galata Tower Istanbul

Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower in the Galata quarter of Istanbul. It is an observation tower where you can purchase a ticket of around 5 USD and go up to witness an incredible view. It is 67 meters tall and there is a restaurant and cafe on its upper floors where you can see the great Bosphorus. However, if you don't like big crowds, you can visit one of the Sky bars near and enjoy the view in peace. We went to Snog Roof Bar which was quiet, and the service was very genuine and lovely.

Wine and the Galata Tower View
View of Galata Tower from the Rooftop Bar

3. Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahce Palace

This beautiful and the Turkish largest palace is located in Beşiktaş district of Istanbul on the European coast. It used to be the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire, the architectural style is Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical.

I found it stunning, remarkable and special. If you love architecture and if you have enough time, get a ticket (6 USD) and explore what's inside the palace. I assure you it's totally worth it!

Dolmabahçe Palace Istanbul
Magnificent Palace of Istanbul
Admiring architecture of Istanbul
Rooms in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul
Dolmabahçe Palace Architecture

4. Bosphorus Boat Ride/Hagia Sophia

Basically, everything we managed to see in four days, we did very early before all the other tourists come. We were one of the very few people upon arriving which was around 9 AM.

The ticket was no more than 4 USD and the whole cruise lasted for about an hour. I believe every season is equally beautiful, but I loved going in October, the weather was mostly sunny and the temperature around 19 degrees.

Bosphorus boat ride
View of Bosphorus, Istanbul

When it comes to Hagia Sophia, here’s a few interesting information. Hagia Sophia means Holly Wisdom, and it used to be the former Greek Orthodox Christian Cathedral, later an Ottoman Imperial Mosque and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul.

It is one of the most important architectural achievements and is so rich in history and culture. It’s impossible not to have goosebumps when you enter inside.

As always, we came around 8 AM, the ticket was around 15 USD, which is the most expensive we paid when it comes to tourist attractions, but it is worth it and I would repeat the experience. There is an audio guide so make sure you get the headsets and learn some cool stuff!

It is quite easy to find, we used T1 Tram Line, station Sultanahmet!

Hagia Sophia Istanbul
Hagia Sophia View of the city
Historical details on the walls of Hagia Sophia

5. Balat Quarter/Streets of Istanbul

Balat Quarter is famous for its colorful streets, it is a former Jewish quarter in Fatih District. It is located on the European side of the city, as you walk around you might notice beautiful synagogues, small bakeries and very friendly people.

I recommend exploring around that area because you’ll find so many secret attractions that will leave you speechless.

Streets of Istanbul are so gorgeous, there are cute little tea and Turkish delight spots on every corner. Whoever likes cats, you’ll be fascinated how many of them are in Istanbul. There is even one whole park where people have built tiny houses and they are bringing them food daily.

Make sure you try typical Turkish breakfast, simit and kebab! Oh, and a fresh pomegranate juice!

Balat Quarter Istanbul
Traditional Turkish Breakfast
Turkish Flag
Turkish Delights
Turkish Simit
Fresh Pomegranate in Istanbul
Cute cats enjoying the afternoon in Istanbul
Interesting graffiti in Istanbul

I hope you enjoyed reading this article! 😍

Stunning view of Istanbul




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Unknown member
Apr 10, 2023

Nice work

Katarina Zlatkovic
Katarina Zlatkovic
Apr 11, 2023
Replying to

Thanks a lot! ✨


Apr 10, 2023


Katarina Zlatkovic
Katarina Zlatkovic
Apr 10, 2023
Replying to

Have you ever been to Istanbul?

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