Istanbul, Turkey summarized
Turkey ravels between a mix of middle-eastern and European flairs. But knowing what it is mostly typified of is an ordeal you might have to find for yourself, and eventually get immersed in the process. There's no better way to explore the best of European and Mediterranean cultures than to visit Turkey's capital, Istanbul. The ruins of Byzantium and Constantinople of the Ottoman Empire, once the most powerful centers in religion and history, can still be found along the city's stunning structures, such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. The striking lights of Bosphorus Bridge lead visitors from Europe and Asia easily into Levent's skyline, one of the most influential financial districts in the world. Guests can see the remains of ancient Rome at the well-preserved Valens Aqueducts dating from the 4th century, or visit the Maiden's Tower, a relic from the Greek era. Visitors should shop for the finest stones and jewelry at the Grand Bazaar, wander around the underground cisterns of the Yerebatan, or soak for an authentic Turkish bath at the Cihangir-Beyoglu.
'HÃ¼zÃ¼n does not just paralyze the inhabitants of Istanbul, it also gives them poetic license to be paralyzed. 'Life can't be all that bad,' I'd think from time to time. 'Whatever happens, I can always take a long walk along the Bosporus.'
Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Laureate of Literature and an avid chronicler of the ancient city of Istanbul, wrote these beautiful words in his book 'Istanbul: Memories of the City'. Tourists who wish to make a trip of the lifetime to Istanbul, this book can be a great starting point to begin their journey to understanding what is often called the greatest city on this planet.
Istanbul is a city that has overwhelmingly long and rich history. History, in fact, has never left this city, as every cornerstone and every great wall seems to tell some sort of an ancient parable, waiting on patient listeners who would lend curious ears. Italo Calvino, a master of writing about cities, once remarked that if Istanbul was replete with history, history was also replete with Istanbul.
Over the millennia, Istanbul has held a great importance in the politics of the region, and, in turn, that of the world. Greeks and Romans didn't mind shedding blood to conquer it, and native Turks never thought twice to emulate their own to save their beloved city. Constantinople, as it used to be called back in the day, has shaped many an empire and written many a fate with her own hands, sometimes in golden, sometimes in red scripts.
Traveling to Istanbul should not be a haphazard decision for you. More than anything, it should never be a decision that has not been thought through. Istanbul has a lot more to offer than most tourists can accept gleefully, and to avoid that feeling of underwhelming, you need to manage your itinerary with the efficiency of a corporate hotshot.
Budget Hotels in Istanbul
Contrary to popular belief, Istanbul is not really a cheap city to live in. Tourists need to be aware of the fact that if you do not manage your tour budget with alacrity, the historic streets and ancient bazaars of Istanbul may well end up burning gaping holes in your pockets.
One way to save yourself the ignominy of lost opportunities owing to insufficient budget is to pick cheap hotels for your stay, wherever you travel. There are quite a few options for you to choose from in Istanbul, as the city itself houses hospitality establishments that date back three and four centuries.
Ada Hotel is among the best loved budget hotels in Istanbul. Having hosted thousands of tourists in its history, Ada Hotel is easily accessible from the airport and is decently maintained to host families without any hassle.
Hotel Hanedan is another popular choice among tourists, especially because of its authentic hookah bars. Osmanhan Hotel, voted the best budget hotel in Istanbul by Nat Geo many times over, is popular for its friendly staff and amazing Turkish delights. With this established, let's take a look at what hotels in Istanbul have on offer for wealthy patrons.
Splashing it Up in Istanbul
There is a class of tourists for whom a trip isn't complete without a stay at a luxury hotel. And when talk about luxury hotel establishments, Istanbul, a city of kings and queens, has nothing to hold back on.
With over 70 five star hotel and resort units in operation, Istanbul is well stocked up on luxury, lavishness and opulence. Almost every big-name hotel brand makes a prolific appearance here, with the best they have on offer demonstrated in local style.
Sumahan on the Water is a great pick of a luxury hotel for tourists who wish to experience what it must have been like to be a Turkish royalty, ruling over these magnificent parts of the world. Grand Hyatt Istanbul is, in regular Hyatt style, also provides high-quality services to its guests.
InterContinental, Marriott, Sofitel, Hilton and W Park, all mark their presence in Istanbul with some truly majestic hotel properties that cost upwards of $699 a night and take the Istanbul hotels scene to many notches higher up the ladder.
Do's and Dont's of Sightseeing in Istanbul
It is often said that 'when in Rome, act like Romans do.'
It might be the only advice that tourists who are making plans to visit Istanbul need to abide by. Istanbul is a city of culture and tradition. Despite all the leaps and bounds jumped by it in infrastructure and standard of living, the city is made up of people who love to follow in the footsteps of their local customs. So, tourists are best advised not to push the cultural boundaries during their stay in Istanbul. A quick online research may prove to be useful to understand what these boundaries really are.
Another thing to remember when in Istanbul is to greet locals in their own style. Your local tour guide or your hotel management can help you with quick greeting phrases that you can use with locals to maintain a cordial and friendly rapport.
Hotels Near The Istanbul Airport
There are two international airports presently in operation that service the city of Istanbul. The larger among these two, and arguably the more famous one, is Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
Located at a distance of approximately 20 km from the city, Ataturk Airport handles over 30 million passengers each year. From the convenience viewpoint, tourists can choose a hotel that lies along the highway that connects this airport to the city, as many cheap hotels can be found along this stretch.
Istanbul Weather: No Mercy
Istanbul weather is spread out across the calendar in various phases. Summer time, March to June, is usually accompanied by unexpected rainfall and occasional thunderstorms. November and December provide the gentles weather for tourists, complemented by falling nightly prices of Istanbul hotels.
Summer can be quite hot here, and adequate care should be taken to stay hydrated, especially if you are sightseeing throughout the day, on foot.