Istanbul is an ancient city which conjures up visions of great empires and stories of old, and there is certainly plenty to do and explore in this magnificent city. But what should you do first? Here are 3 things we think you really must experience on any visit to Istanbul.
Meet Alexander the Great at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum
Okay, so perhaps not the man himself but certainly his sarcophagus adorned with carvings of his adventurous exploits.
Along with other significant Greek, Roman and Byzantine artefacts this museum is also home to the Treaty of Kadesh, apparently the world’s earliest surviving peace treaty signed by the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II and the Hittite King Hattusili III (apparently it didn’t last very long).
The museum is made up of three buildings namely the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and the Museum of Islamic Art, so be sure to explore all three.
Take your Inner Sufi out for a whirl
What’s the point of coming all the way to Istanbul if you are not going to witness the famous Whirling Dervishes in full spin?
This whirling dance (along with chants, prayers and music) is the way Sufis connect with God however you don’t have to be a transcendental guru or religious fanatic to get something from a Whirling Dervish show.
After all, humans have been dancing for years to connect and tell stories, and in some cultures dancing is even a form of medicine.
If you are looking for a truly mesmerizing experience, this is not to be missed.
Taste Kumpir on the Waterfront at Ortaköy
Once a small fishing village, this area of Istanbul is now a vibrant and hip area full of eateries, cafés and tea houses.
Here you will also find the Ortaköy mosque on the waterfront overlooking the Bosphorus which lends it a romantic appeal as well as being an excellent place for photos. In the streets surrounding Ortaköy Square you will also find plenty of great souvenirs and handicrafts.
Try the delicious waffles or kumpir from the street food vendors. Kumpir is baked potato with the potato thoroughly mixed with cheese and butter and then served with a myriad of toppings. Just make sure you are hungry before you try one!