Here are some of the best and most exciting things to do in post-COVID Istanbul, Turkey!
Nobody knows quite when they will be able to travel for vacations safely. However, the travel and tourism industry remains optimistic that once the pandemic’s initial scare settles down, the infection rate and death toll drops significantly, or a vaccine is found and manufactured, people will resume their travel plans.
While booking and making concrete travel plans is near on impossible at the current time, nothing is stopping you from having a bit of a daydream, doing your research and planning your dream post-pandemic holiday.
After all, we all need something to look forward to, and what better thing is there to get excited about than a holiday to somewhere glorious? Perhaps, somewhere as magnificent as Istanbul in Turkey? It is, after all, the only city in the world to bridge two continents: Europe and Asia.
What to See and Do in Istanbul, Turkey
Explore Istanbul’s Iconic Landmarks
Some of the city’s iconic sights, such as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, are on the European side of this incredible and bustling metropolis. These are stand out attractions that give Istanbul its international fame.
Explore Istanbul’s European Side
The neighbourhood of Sultanahmet in Fatih is home to the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, and the lavish Topkapi Palance, all tied by spacious lush gardens. Start with the iconic blue mosque, named so because of the handmade ceramic blue tiles.
Inside the sumptuously decorated mosque, there are two hundred stained glass windows, over twenty thousand tiles, and hundreds of metres square of soft red carpet covered in mysterious symbolism such as tulips. Watch out for the ostrich eggs that are on the roof chandeliers. They are an ancient spider web repellant that is said to have been keeping the creepy crawlies from making a home in the mosque for many, many years.
Once you have your fill of the breathtaking blue mosque, head ten minutes or so away to the Hagia Sophia – the only building for miles around that can even begin to rival it.
The Hagia Sophia was founded in AD360 as a church, known as the Magna Ecclesia. In 1453 it was taken over by the Ottoman forces. The Sultan Mehmet stopped the looting, and it was converted into a mosque, which it kept its status as until 1934.
In this bucolic, ancient museum, seek out the juxtaposition of religious symbolism which has left its indent on the building’s structure – pagan features such as the wishing column sit next to desecrated crosses.
Finish your experience with a visit to Topkapi Palace, the imperial dwelling of the Ottoman Sultans, for almost 400 years. Large areas of the complex remain shut off to the general public, but you are still able to wander into the Harem – a space for the wives, servants, and concubines. We imagine there are a few secrets borne in there!
Turkey is world-famous for its unique markets and bazaars, and for a good reason – they are places like no other.
The Grand Bazaar, in the Fatih district, is one of the oldest covered markets in the world, stretching over 61 covered streets and housing more than four thousand stalls. You can get all kinds of incredible things: lanterns and fabrics, trinkets and spices, and just about everything in between.
You will get lost, but that is half of the fun! Make sure your haggling game is up to scratch as you wander the streets of treasure.
Explore Istanbul’s Asian Side
Go across to the Asian side of Istanbul, and things are a little more chilled out. Imagine local cafes and independent businesses and boutiques to give this part of town a local community feel compared to its big and bold European cousins.
Plenty of the city is accessible on foot or by public transport, but again, how that will look after the pandemic has passed, we do not know. Fat Taxi Istanbul has taken plenty of measures to keep passengers safe so they can enjoy what the city has to offer without worry, so that is an option to consider when making your travel plans.
The Asian side of the city is a little more laid back, a little less busy and ‘in your face’ – but no less fascinating or historic.
Our top suggestion is to pay a visit to the Prince Islands. The beautiful Marmara Sea Archipelago, in comparison to the rest of Istanbul, has maintained their former ways. You will not find any busy roads – the horse is still the primary method of transport, reminding you of just how different it is from the other side of the city.
Kadıköy is another place we suggest visiting, especially if you need an antidote to the hustle and bustle of the European Istanbul.
Wander along the seafront and take in the sights, sit back and relax with a coffee in one of the many restaurants and cafes and watch the world pass you buy before taking a look around the smaller, more quiet marketplaces.
The world of travel and tourism may look very different when the coronavirus pandemic is over. However, one thing is for sure – Istanbul will still be as historically and culturally vibrant as it ever has been, making it well worth a visit.