By Do Tien Dung

I cannot describe how amazing Istanbul is. It is among the most awe-inspiring cities I’ve seen so far, and it’s precisely what you’d expect from the place where East meets West. It is a city you will love to visit again and again because it’s home to breathtaking architecture, delicious food, and some of the warmest, most hospitable people you’ve ever met.

If you are hoping to visit, you must get the correct type of visa. Thankfully, it’s easy to get an e-visa to Turkey. The application is all done online, and you get your permit in minutes. Follow this step-by-step guide on how to apply for your visa, or visit to make your application.

During my trips, I try to eliminate all flight emissions to the destination and choose those where carbon emissions are offset 100%. Minimising my carbon footprint while travelling is very important for me, and I hope for you too!

Istanbul At A Glance

Turkish economy, finance, and culture are all centred in Istanbul. Also, it’s the biggest city in the country, with just over 15 million people, making it one of the biggest in the world. These factors make it natural to assume that Istanbul is Turkey’s capital, but it’s not. Those honours go to Ankara.

Istanbul is one of a handful of cities that straddles two continents. Its location on both sides of the Bosphorus divides the city between Europe and Asia. 

Since the Asian side is mainly residential, the city’s major attractions are concentrated in two districts on the European side – Sultanahmet and Beyoğlu. These two districts are where you’ll most likely spend most of your time as a first-time visitor.

Istanbul has a lot to see and do because of its rich history and culture. The Byzantine churches and mosques in Istanbul are adorned with mosaics and frescoes at every turn.

On a city break to the city, you can experience more than two millennia of history and tradition. On the Asian side, visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace before boarding a ferry across the Bosporus. Throughout the adventure, you can savour delicious borek in Kuzguncuk, explore the fragrant Spice Market, and indulge in sweet treats and Turkish coffee at a traditional baklava shop. 

My Ideal Itinerary

Day 1: Start Your Istanbul Adventure

After landing at Istanbul Airport, head to your hotel and refresh, ready for an exciting stay. I recommend getting a local insider tour guide to accompany you throughout the trip showing you the real city. Start your evening with a traditional Turkish dinner to get a true flavour of the country. 

Day 2: Visit Istanbul Landmarks

One of the best places to start is the Blue Mosque, one of the world’s most important places of worship. It’s named after the Iznik tiles that decorate the interior of the 400-year-old building. You can also visit the Hagia Sophia, one of the biggest churches in the world. 

Follow the religious sites with a visit to Sultanahmet Square, the site of an ancient stadium that once held 100,000 people. Then check out Topkapi Palace, which, over 500 years ago, was home to 25 Ottoman sultans. One of the world’s biggest and oldest markets, the Grand Bazaar, is the perfect place to finish the day. 

Day 3: Explore The Spice Market And Visit The Asian Side Of Istanbul

Explore the 17th-century Spice Market, where you can get aromatic saffron, paprika, and more—a magical place for all the senses. You can also see the Dolmabahce Palace and Rumeli Fortress on a ferry ride along the Bosporus

Then get some Turkish delicacies in Kuzguncuk while checking out this hip neighbourhood on the Asian side. You can also find antique shops and second-hand bookshops in Kadikoy before relaxing at a baklava shop and tasting their sweets, washed down with Turkish coffee. Hop back on the ferry to return to Europe.

Day 4: Join An Optional Tour Of Historic Neighbourhoods And The Dolmabahçe Palace

Spend the day exploring this vibrant city on your own, or join an optional tour of Istiklal and Balat. The tour stops at the largest Greek Orthodox church, one of the first theatres in the Ottoman empire. You can also check out the lesser-known Unesco-listed neighbourhoods of Balat and Fener, which showcase Istanbul’s multicultural heritage. Don’t forget to ride The Tunnel, one of the oldest subterranean railways in the world. Enjoy a farewell dinner before exploring the Dolmabahce Palace and the bohemian village of Ortaköy. 

After four days of exploring, say goodbye to this fascinating city. If you have some time for adventure, why not wander around this magnificent country some more?

I am not an expert on Istanbul or Turkey, but I hope my suggestions help you plan a fabulous trip. Go on, get booking a trip to Istanbul and have fun!