February 16, 2011

How to Spend 24 Hours in Istanbul


Istanbul is a tale of two cities. Straddling Europe and Asia and divided by the strait of Bosporus, the former capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires is the only metropolitan city that has its foot on two continents, with the old city sprawled over European territory and the modern, residential areas established on the Asian side. Considering its massive size, a timeframe of 24 hours can hardly do any of the city’s gems any justice at all, but it is sufficient to scratch the surface and instill a curiosity for more. It is an enchanting city, fusing the history of several cultures, languages, religions, and eras together and establishing itself as Turkey’s economic and cultural epicenter.

Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul is a city of contrasts, and not just in a geographical sense. Discover a synagogue, an orthodox church, and a mosque all erected in the same vicinity. Witness a man atop a horse, pulling a cart, and weaving in and out of traffic while a sea of luxury imported cars zoom by. Watch retired old men sitting and playing cards in quaint tea houses, while modern business women strut by in short skirts and suits, sipping their Starbucks coffee. Shop around in vast stylish, glass-fronted shopping malls or haggle at one of the old beautiful underground bazaars.

Have your camera on hand and be ready to shoot because everything will be picture-worthy.


1) Start your day with a traditional Turkish breakfast at one of the many waterfront cafes before introducing yourself to contemporary Turkey at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art a few steps away.

2) Stroll through the expansive Grand Bazaar and buy a wide array of spices, jewelry, hand-made crafts, carpets, and other trinkets.

4) Saunter through the quaint alleyways of historic Old Istanbul (Stamboul) and witness the restrained mystique of the East blended beautifully with the pronounced boldness of the West.

8 ) Whisk over to the other continent by ferry and admire the beautiful skyline along the Bosphorus.

10) Visit the stunning Ortaköy Mosque at night and watch the mosque come alive with a dazzling light show and serene evening prayers. For the best views of the mosque and the Bosphorus Bridge, make a trip to the Banyan Restaurant, an open-air rooftop restaurant that overlooks the Bosphorus strait.

11) Polish off the night with cocktails and other jet-setters on the rooftop terraces of Vogue or 360° Sky Lounge. Enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the city, dance to the latest electronic tunes, and mingle with the city’s glamorous denizens.

12) Head to the buzzing areas of Taksim or Beyoğlu, the nightlife hubs of Istanbul for late-night drinks and dancing. You may even be able to find venues that showcase the cultural Turkish dance of belly dancing, or göbek dans.

Read more on Venere Travel Blog: How to Spend 24 Hours in Istanbul

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