As newly-weds hunt across the globe for honeymoon destinations that offer breathtaking scenery and romantic culture, few know of the hidden eccentricities that Istanbul holds. A fruitful and lengthy history of four separate empires (Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman) permeates throughout the metropolis to offer a rich, layered aesthetic experience in architecture, landscape, music, cuisine, and art.
However, you’d be wrong to regard it as a crumbling museum-city that is a whisper of its former self, as it is a bustling and energetic display of modernity magnificence. As the famous French military leader and political player, Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “If the earth was a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.” In this article, guest writer Francis Elmendorf gives advice on how to plan the perfect honeymoon in the cosmopolitan city of Istanbul.
Honeymoon in Istanbul : Romance on the Silk Road
Honeymoon equals romance, and Istanbul drips with passionate memories waiting to be had. It sits just below Greece at the northern border of Turkey along the Bosphorus Strait, one of the busiest waterways in the world. The largest city in Turkey, it bridges the continents of Europe and Asia together as it is bordered on either side by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.
These spectacular bodies of water feed the cool climate in the north and more humid, warm temperatures in the south. With the natural, aquatic beauty surrounding the city, there is perhaps no better way to view the city than by taking a romantic boat ride across the waters.
Right out of one of the most extravagant movie scenes you can imagine, the Turkish bazaars offer color, energy and most of all a unique emporium experience that will garnish your dreams for a lifetime. The famous Grand Bazaar is a bustling world of one of the largest and oldest covered markets on the planet offering everything from detailed fashion point work to finitely crafted metallurgy.
However, be sure and check out a more intimate bazaar experience at the Arasta Bazaar located behind the Blue Mosque (a must visit) and next to the Mosaics Museum. Here you can saunter, hand-in-hand amongst the locals, haggling over one-of-a-kind hand woven rugs and intricately designed ceramics.
Also, don’t forget the Spice Market which carries a rich array of not only the most colorful spices you have ever seen but honeycombs, teas, perfumes and of course, what would a honeymoon be without an assortment of ancient aphrodisiacs. These various epicenters of commerce and culture will engulf honeymooners in a world of seductive sights and scents that will be unlike any shopping mall they would encounter at home.
What a View!
The sprawling city has countless views from which couples can have their photo snapped or profess their love for one another. Climb to the top of one of many rooftop terraces for a sunset beverage while soaking the scene. Recommended viewing stops are the Ararat Hotel and 5kat, two spectacular hotel terraces with completely different panoramas. If you want a lovely view of the Old City and its playful seagulls while sharing a romantic dinner, try La Mouette, a restaurant that blends French and Turkish cuisine for an unforgettable dining experience.
Walking hand-in-hand through this historic city’s streets, shops and sites will engage the senses as newlyweds share an enriching adventure. There are plenty of gems to discover, some famous and some hidden, that are worth visiting.
- Yildiz Palace Park – The Ottoman Empire Sultan lived in Yilidz Palace in the late 19th Century. It means “Star Palace” and is surrounded by a sprawling landscape considered Istanbul’s finest green space. Walking through this park brings the lovely scent of an array of flowering plants; the shimmer of a sparkling lake and scattered pavilions will fill the hours with jaw dropping history. Plus, if you haven’t already had enough of a workout, take advantage of the free exercise equipment on the park grounds.
- Çay Bahçesi (Tea Garden) – Share a cup of tea together in this wonderful garden and watch colorful ferries lazily glide across the Golden Horn (an inlet of the Bosphorous Strait). Turkish tea (try the popular apple flavor) is unlike any other and is especially scrumptious when accompanied by treats like honey glazed baklava, sour cherries, white peaches, ‘sultans’ (citrus and coconut pastry), chestnut chocolates and pistachio ice cream all add to the intoxicating experience. Come to the terrace at Set Üstü Çay Bahçesi at Gülhane Park that overlooks Seraglio Point for an unbeatably beautiful lookout.
Stay & Dance Like a King and Queen
Istanbul is famous for its luxurious hotels. The Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul (a former Sultan palace that has been merged with modern architecture) and the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul on the Bosphorus (a renovated Nineteenth Century Ottoman palace) both begin and end your day submerged in Middle Eastern refinement. Istanbul will also offer lovers a wide array of nighttime hotspots that are sure to elevate heart rates and get your feet moving. For every kind of musical preference there is, Turkey has an answer. Whether you prefer rock, club, folk, hip hop or classical, Istanbul has top notch entertainment.
Venues worth investigating include:
- Anjelique – A three story mansion restaurant/nightclub.
- Blackk – A classy Resto-lounge.
- Reina – host to worldwide celebrity acts.
- Sortie – open till 4am with spectacular views.
- SuAda – located on an island in the middle of the Bosphorus.
It would take a lifetime to uncover the secrets of this enigmatically seductive city. A honeymoon in Istanbul will submerge newly-weds in a seductive world that is both ancient and contemporary to create an unforgettable and exhilarating experience that honeymooners are sure to cherish for years to come.