Updated: Nov 18, 2022
Our second destination for our honeymoon was Istanbul, Turkey. We had landed at Dubai Airport from Seychelles around 11 AM and our next connecting flight to Istanbul was at 2:30 PM. We reached Istanbul around 6 PM.
At that time, the new Istanbul Airport was still under construction. The Istanbul Ataturk Airport was heavily crowded. It took more than one hour at security clearance. As we both have Schengen visas, we got our E-visa for Turkey by applying online.
Where to stay in Istanbul?
It was almost 7.30 PM to 8 PM when we booked our Uber Airport to our Hotel. The hotel was around half an hour drive and located around 2 KM from Taksim Square. We stayed in Doubletree by Hilton at Piyalepasa.
The hotel has an amazing location and ambiance with a beautiful lobby. We had been welcome with Chocolate chip cookies and escorted us to our room.
We had almost 3 days to explore Istanbul, Aoon had been there but It was my first time and I knew that 3 days aren’t enough for the city like Istanbul. We dropped our bags and rushed towards Taksim Square.
The Taksim Square:
The famous monument of Taksim square is located near the Republic monument which was inaugurated in 1928 on the 5th anniversary of the formation of the Republic of Turkey.
It's located in the center of the city and one of the main tourist attractions which is always crowded with people. The square has lots of restaurants, shopping brands and hotels.
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After spending some time near Taksim square, we walked towards Istiklal Street. It’s one of the most crowded around 1.5 KM long avenue and visited by 3 million people in a single day over the weekends. The traditional tram also passes from the center of the street which makes it look even more crowdy.
The Pedestrian has art galleries, cinemas, theatres, libraries, music store, shopping brands, cafes, restaurants, ice-cream stands, Turkish traditional patisseries shop, pubs and nightclubs. Whether it's day or night, the pedestrian is always crowded and people are sitting on the streets and playing live music.
There are small cobblestone streets connected with the main pedestrian which has a lot of street cafes and restaurants.
It was almost 1 AM but all the restaurants were open. We kept walking on Istiklal street and enjoying the liveliness of Istanbul and Then, we reached Majestic Galata Tower. Galata tower used to be a Genoese colony before the conquest of Constantinople. It was built in 1348 and used to be the tallest building of that time.
The tower has an amazing restaurant on the top with the beautiful view of the sea and city but unfortunately, we had been there quite late so we didn’t get the chance to climb up and enjoy the view from the top.
From the tower, we had walked a few miles towards the Galata Bridge to enjoy the refreshing breeze from the sea. There were a lot of Fishermans placed their hooks in the sea and were catching fish and holding small cups of traditional Turkish chai.
It was quite late so we took the Uber back to our hotel.
Note: The Uber is quite cheap in Istanbul but Uber drivers or taxi drivers aren’t so trustworthy in Istanbul. Most of the time, they are taking long routes in order to earn some more money and the problem is language barrier. They don’t understand if you try to tell them or explain something to them.
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On the second day, we got up early in the morning. After having breakfast in the Hotel, we went directly to Fatih District. The city was really crowded in the morning. The district wasn’t so far from our hotel but it took us around half an hour due to traffic. The traffic rush reminds me of the traffic jam of my home city, Lahore.
We had spent some time enjoying the surroundings of Fatih district and I was thinking how it looked during the Glorious time of Byzantine empire - Constantinople.
We had visited Hagia Sophia which used to be a famous Orthodox Christian Church during Byzantine Era.
The church changed into a mosque and later on turned into a museum in 1935. The interior and exterior architecture is just amazing and the gallery is worth visiting where you can see the mind-blowing masterpiece of islamic calligraphy.
There was a long waiting time in a queue for the tickets.
We had been to the most beautiful mosques of Istanbul called Blue Mosque.It’s a unique mosque with six Minars.
Our next stop was Basilica Cistern. Cistern is found under the city and it's just a few meters from Hagia Sophia. The Cistern is a bit dark with little water. Many movies like James Bond, Black widow have shot a few scenes here in the Cistern.
It’s highly recommended to visit Topkapi Palace also located in Fatih district. Due to limited time, we haven’t been to the Palace but Aoon had already been there and totally amazed with the Palace.
We had walked to Grand Bazar from the Fatih district and were amazed with the flavors of Istanbul. We also did some shopping of Souvenirs and Turkish tea from there.
After visiting Grand Bazar, we walked towards the sea and enjoyed the beautiful coastal line of Istanbul. There were lots of people jogging and running near the sea. There are lots of cafes and restaurants on the seashore. We had been to a local and enjoyed the coffee with the best view of the sea.
As we already booked our Bosphorus Cruise, we headed towards our hotel and got ready. The Cruise company had picked us from the hotel and dropped us to the point where the Cruise started.
Our Cruise included dinner and drinks along with live dance performances. As the weather was a bit cold, so everything was arranged in a closed lower deck. But we spent most of our time in Upper deck enjoying the beautiful mesmerizing architecture and lights of Istanbul.
Trip to Cappadocia:
On the next day, we had a flight to Kayseri. We were going there for two days. And we had a reservation for another night stay in Istanbul in the same hotel. We left our luggage over there and travelled with small bags.
We came back to Istanbul at night after enjoying the hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. So, we had only one day left to explore Istanbul and we had a flight back to Dubai in the evening. So, we got up early in the morning and planned to explore as much as we can.
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Again due to traffic jam, we got late and took us a lot of time to reach Dolmabahçe palace. There was a large number of people waiting in a ticket queue. For a minute, we thought to cancel our plan but we really wanted to visit the historical palace where the Caliph like Abdul Majid I had spent his life. We had waited around an hour and it was totally worth it. It’s the world’s most fascinating palace along the Bosphorus.
The palace has been extensively decorated with gold and crystal. We can totally imagine the lifestyle of the Ottomani Emperor. Inside the palace, it’s not allowed to take photos. There were security guys standing very near to each other and keeping a strict eye on visitors. The palace also has a Museum where you can see the gold plated cookery used during the time of Caliphate. After the tour of the palace, we enjoyed the beautiful view of the Bosphorus from the lawn of the palace.
Day cruise in Bosphorus:
Then, we took a day cruise which stops at different points in Istanbul. This cruise was really different from the night cruise trip as the one we had at night was really expensive including dinner and live performance. We enjoyed the beautiful landmarks including Famous Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. The cruise covers the European and asian side.
We decided to take off at Asian side of Istanbul and explore a bit. We didn’t have enough time to explore much on Asian side.
We took the taxi, and picked our luggage from the hotel and headed towards the Airport to catch our flight back home .
Be careful about the traffic in Istanbul, it’s always better to go earlier to the airport .