6 Fun & Budget Friendly Things To Do In Istanbul

My travel information below: 

When: March 2013.

No. of days: 3 Days and 4 nights

Weather: Cold with intermittent rains.

Stayed at: Swissotel The Bosphorus. A luxury hotel that comes with as good a price tag. I’d give it 5 on 5 for it’s service, quality, comfort and location.

In addition to visiting the various tourist attractions like Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia etc, here are 6 things you CANNOT, should not miss doing in Istanbul:

1. Take two Bosphorus cruise rides – One in the daytime and one in the night. The day ride will give you a good, quick glimpse of what the city is about. And the night cruise is a must because when the ferry passes under the brightly lit up Bosphorus bridge, you can’t help but madly fall in love with life. Visit Bosphoruscruise.com or Turkey travel planner to find out more about the best cruise options or to book a cruise.

Bosphorus Cruise in Istanbul

Bosphorus Cruise Ride

2. Get lost in the lanes and by-lanes of Taksim square (Istiklal Street) – Wear comfortable shoes and walk till you cannot walk any more. In addition to the best eating joints, pubs with great music and overall vibe, Taksim also is your best bet to shop for really cool stuff. From clothes to shoes to gadgets… it’s all here. And when you finally do get tired, hop on to the nostalgic tourist tram that runs from Taksim square to Tunnel square.

Istiklal street in the night

Exploring Istiklal Street in Istanbul

3. Sit at the small road-side cafes and watch the city. Sip on some apple tea. Smile at strangers.

Turkish tea in a street side cafe in Istanbul

Turkish tea in a small street-side cafe

4. Shop at the Grand Bazaar. Prepare to be greeted by every shop-keeper you pass by. They will shower you with compliments, hand you a flower, say that you look like some famous Turkish actress. And if out of curiosity, you do stop and ask a little more about the actress, they will Google her name and show you her pictures. Shop. haggle. Enjoy the crowded bazaar.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

5. Go cycling on the Prince’s Island and gorge on exotic sea-food there. Prince’s Island comprises of 4 major and 5 minor islands. I visited one of the major islands – Buyukada island. It’s a small island that can be explored either on a bicycle or by hiring an old-fashioned horse carriage. No words can describe the beauty of this place which has old Ottonans style bungalows. Do not miss the last ferry back home unless you fancy staying back on a lonely island. There are limited ferries between Istanbul and Buyukada so make sure you check the ferry schedule before-hand. Click here to find out about the ferry schedule.

Buyukada Island, Prince's Island

Buyukada Island, Istanbul

6. Watch the fishermen on Galata Bridge: Being from Bombay, watching fishermen go about their usual work isn’t something that sounds like great fun to me. But walking down the Galata bridge is something else. The unique thing about these fishermen is that they stand on the bridge, each with their fishing hook hanging down in the water and wait for the catch while reading a book, listening to music, smoking a cigarette or just passing time. It’s amusing to say the least. I walked on the bridge in the morning but Lonely Planet recommends coming here in the evening.

Galata Bridge, Istanbul

A lone fisherman on Galata Bridge, Istanbul

Here are some other recommended links you might like:

7 Reasons you’ll love Istanbul

Istanbul City Guide | The Guardian

Best time to visit Istanbul | Lonely Planet

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Have you been to Istanbul? What are your favourite memories from the city? Where are you planning to take you suitcase next?

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