Istanbul, Turkey attractions and free walking tours

You must see Istanbul at least once with free walking tours? Also known as Shisha or waterpipe, Hookah lounges are very popular in the city. Dave and I are ardent non-smokers, but to visit Istanbul without giving a Hookah a try would be criminal. Hookahs are flavoured tobacco smoked through a water pipe. It became popular in Turkey in the 17th century and was a status symbol for those in the city. You cannot visit Istanbul without experiencing the weird and wackiness of a Turkish Bath, also known as a traditional hammam. Be prepared to strip down to your birthday suit and have strangers vigorously bath and massage your entire body after a hot steam bath. It can be painful, strange, and heavenly all at once. You may or may not like it, but I can tell you one thing for sure, you will never forget it.

With the majority of tourist attractions located on the European side, most first-time travelers to Istanbul don’t venture into the Asian side of the city. Had it not been for Ciya Sofrasi and Walter’s Coffee Roastery, then we wouldn’t have gone there either. Home to a maze of cafes, bars, restaurants, and some trendy neighborhoods, the Asian side has much to offer and is well worth a day if you can spare it. We traveled around Turkey for two weeks so we went to these places on our own, but if you don’t have as much time, then you can visit them on day trips from Istanbul as well. Domestic flights are inexpensive and efficient in Turkey, making these day trips to other regions highly possible.

Bykada is the biggest of the Princes’ Islands, an island group in the Sea of Marmara. Covering around five square kilometres (two square miles), the island is easy to explore by foot or by bicycle. With the exception of service vehicles, the island is free from motorised transportation. There are diverse attractions on the island, including ancient religious buildings and elegant mansions, and there are also two hills that provide great views. Catch the ferry across to Bykada and spend a day visiting the island’s interesting landmarks. See the large hilltop Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage, which is one of the biggest wooden buildings in the world. Climb the other hill to reach the quaint Agia Yorgi Church and lap up the splendid vistas. Explore the valley between the two hills, where you can visit Agios Nikolaos Church and Monastery. Interestingly, a convent on the island was once used as a place of exile for several Byzantine empresses. Other places of interest include Hamidye Mosque, the former home of Leon Trotsky, Panagia Greek Orthodox Church, the Armenian Church, San Pacifo Church, and the historic mansions of Mizzi, Con Pasa, and Fabiato. See how islanders live and call into a local café for refreshments. Discover additional info at Free walking tour of Istanbul.

The perfect place to witness the trace of emperors in Istanbul is Hagia Sophia. It was built in 537 AD, the impressive building first served as an Orthodox church, but after the Ottoman invasion, it was turned into a mosque in 1453. In the 20th century, the government decided to secularize Hagia Sophia and declare this historic building as a museum. It was first opened on February 1, 1935. The highlight of this Istanbul landmark is the massive dome. With 102 feet in diameter and 184 feet in height, the dome of Hagia Sophia is considered as the marvel of architecture in that timeline.

A Istanbul walking tour that we will highly recommend anyone who is visiting Istanbul to join! Great information about the history of Istanbul and our guide is very open for us to discuss any topics related to the society and religion of Turkey.We also visited places that are off the usual track of tourist and were pleasantly surprised. The money paid is well worth the time and effort of our guide! Thank you for introducing your beautiful city to us! Read a few more info at here.