In my quest to travel to every town, city, and village of Turkey, it is not often that I return to a destination. Once I have been there, I strike it off my list and start planning a visit to the next location.
The one exception to this rule is the bustling and culturally mixed city of Istanbul. Once known as Constantinople, I have returned three times and will continue to return, quite possibly until the day I die.
It is too busy and big to consider permanently living there, but I love planning an Istanbul city break for 8 simple reasons.
Why I love City Breaks in Istanbul
- The regional dialect of Istanbul is the easiest for me to understand. Unlike the southeast of Turkey, where the accent is very guttural, I love practicing my Turkish while in the city.
- I am obsessed with Ottoman history and because the city was the base of their empire, I can indulge this obsession as much as I want.
- I love the work of Turkish photographer, Ara Guler. He produced numerous photos of daily life in Istanbul and trying to copy his efforts is a challenge that I eagerly embraced.
- Istanbul has been the base for numerous novels and this sparks my curiosity. Through books like “The Bastard of Istanbul” I no longer look at the city as a holiday destination. It is home to millions of people, whose lives are reflected in the novels and retracing the steps of characters in those books, makes a visit even more exciting. Even the fishermen of Galata bridge have a story that is waiting to be told.
- The city helps me to learn more about my adopted country. For many, a cruise down the Bosphorus is simply a leisure pursuit however for me, it was something else to research and learn about. The more I understand about the history and the people of Turkey, the more I get to know about their culture and traditions. Istanbul is an awesome place to do this.
- A city break in Istanbul is easy travel for me. A one and a half hour flight from my home on the Aegean coast and I am in the former capital. Numerous booking search engines like Trivago have hundreds of Istanbul hotel reviews and prices, so my choice of accommodation is not limited. Easy travel and lots of choice means I can be more flexible with my travel arrangements. Whether I want to stay for a week or two, lodge in a posh or cheap hotel, Istanbul gives me more choice than any other destination in Turkey.
- I never run out of things to do. Despite three visits to the city, I have only just scratched the surface when it comes to viewing local landmarks and attractions.
- Other destinations often involve hiring a car to reach places that are off the beaten track however in Istanbul, everything can be done on foot or by using local transport.
This winter, I hope to return to Istanbul. There is still so much to see and do. So many more people to meet. I feel that I will never tire of the city.
Readers Question: Have you done a city break in Istanbul? If not, why?