Here are my 5 reasons to visit Istanbul in winter!
If you tell people that you are planning to visit Istanbul in late December/early January, most of them will say, ‘Don’t you know it’s really cold there, why you want to visit Istanbul?’
But I can assure you it’s quite nice to wander only with a jacket and a scarf around a city that Napoleon Bonaparte once said should be ‘the capital of Earth’. There is plenty to love about ISTANBUL no matter how cold it is outside.
One morning I woke up and I thought I want my life to bring me something different. No, not start a different day, because every day is different, even if we are following the daily routine.
When the sun rises early in the morning and a ray of sunshine gently touched your face, just think that you are given another chance to live every single second in your life to the maximum. You are given another chance to make it beautiful, and make it worth remembering about. Starting from those little things to important decisions we make in our lives.
So, that morning an egoistic desire to live my life the way I want it came and decided for me to take this trip and experience amazing Istanbul. I don’t want to waste my life on anything other than I love, enjoy and shiver from happiness.
And is it really so unforgivable to want that?
So, If you’re thinking: “Why should visit Istanbul in winter?”
Because Istanbul is one of the oldest cities in the world and worth visiting once in your lifetime. You will find amazing things to do, regardless of the weather and your interests. Istanbul has something for anyone, don’t worry! From historical monuments to amazing landmarks and lively nightlife, this mesmerizing city which connects Asia and Europe will leave you enchanted.
With a population estimated to 18 million people, Istanbul forms the center of the second-largest metropolitan area in Europe and ranks among the world’s largest cities by population.
I’ve just returned from my 4 days trip to Istanbul and I’m still fascinated about their culture and history. It was my second time visiting Istanbul but I’ve already decided to spend some days in this magical country every year. Exploring such a fabulous city was an absolute visual feast for my eyes, beginning with the natural scenic beauty and ending with the delicious food.
Anyway, I was very apprehensive about going there because of the terrorist atacks, but I felt 100% safe when I arrived and had no problems getting around. Istanbul is a non-stop bustling city and there are always people on the streets. At least in the tourist areas, it’s incredibly clean and quiet.
Here are my top 5 reasons why you should plan a trip to Istanbul right now:
1. Istanbul is the City of Contrasts
If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.
As the cliché goes, visit Istanbul to discover the place where east meets west, or vice versa. The unique location combined with its history and occupants of different cultural background make this city a true melting pot.
In Istanbul century old buildings stand near modern skyscrapers. In the same area mosques, churches and synagogues call for devote inhabitants. Liberal and conservative Muslims peacefully live side by side, together with people from a dozen other religions or beliefs. However, they all have one thing in common: the world famous Turkish hospitality.
I really changed my life’s perception completely during this trip to Istanbul. The hospitality shown by Turkish people made me feel really comfortable and confident. Turkish tea and coffee, the taste of fruits, Eskander Kebaps, the clothes, mosques, wooden houses, the streets…they all left me amazed and wanting to visit again.
2. For it’s history and amazing landmarks
Istanbul is the city where you feel time, in all its complexity.
It’s not just nature that makes Istanbul beautiful. A couple of thousand years at the hub of civilization has filled the Old City with breathtaking architectural wonders. Despite the city’s age, the Istanbul’s opulent past remained intact. The cultural heritage of the metropolis is still very impressive. Istanbul was Constantinople once. And it was Byzantion before that. Visit Istanbul and you’ll see the crown city of three empires and witness their history.
Who hasn’t heard of landmarks which summarize the 600 year Ottoman adventure, such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Dolmabahçe Palace, Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. And then there are the lesser known, such as Süleymaniye Mosque, Basilica Cistern, the Galata Tower, as well as numerous churches from the Byzantine era.
Witness the magnificent atmosphere of Hagia Sophia splendid church which was converted to a mosque for 500 years and now restored into a magical museum. Hagia Sophia’s vast domes and expressive mosaics recall the glories of Byzantine Christendom. Directly facing Hagia Sophia you can discover the Sultan Ahmed (Blue) Mosque, with its dazzling tiles and six minarets.
The religious monuments are fabulous, but the city offers a great deal more. Not to be missed is the haunting Basilica Cistern, a huge underground vault supported by rows of ancient carved Greek pillars, built in the sixth century to ensure a steady water supply for the city’s rulers. And, of course, there’s Topkapi Palace, home to the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years, until the late 19th century. Although the entrance looks like the inspiration for Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the palace’s graceful courtyards, overlooking the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus Strait and the Golden Horn, evokes an era of privileged seclusion.
3. For the delicious mix of western and eastern food
The century old mix of cultures also had a huge impact on the food scene. In Istanbul, you can enjoy different cuisines, varying from authentic Ottoman food, over typical Turkish food with its delicious mezes, the hot starters of veggies which accompany every meal, to the modern kitchen of the West. Fish, can be extraordinary when fresh, but traditional Turkish meals are all about shish—small pieces of grilled meat, lamb or chicken and kofte—a blend of minced lamb and herb. Also, Turks make very good pizza, the famous lamahgun, with thin, crisp crusts and lots of cheese.
Turkey is a major eating and drinking culture, and no matter where you are you will have a veritable feast. Turks tend to overwhelm with their food—in restaurants, an order for one is usually enough for two. And I really love their food…I think I got 2 kilos more after this holiday. But I couldn’t miss eating those Turkish delights.
If you’re a fan of Baklava or just want to try the traditional Turkish dessert, this is the place to go.
4. Bargain hunting at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
Over 500 years old, Grand Bazaar is still one of the largest covered bazaars in the world. Its 60 streets contain no less than 5000 shops, 60 restaurants, 18 fountains, 12 mosques and even a school.
It’s hard not to get lost in Grand Bazaar chaotic labyrinth. So try to remember where you entered before wandering around. It’s not really a tourist trap like some claim. Locals shop here every day but they are better at bargaining, of course. For me Grand Bazaar is Heaven on Earth. I had so much fun bargaining with the Turkish men, because you will only see men around. I know it sounds a little bit scarry but they are really innofensive. Yes, the men are the biggest flirts around, but accept that and be firm and polite and keep moving. It is all part of the game they play and if you don’t stress about it, it can be fun!
As a tall brunette latin woman, I was a bit apprehensive about wandering around by myself in Grand Bazaar. It took some time to figure out how to deal with all the men looking at me from the shops and asking all the time: “Italian?” “Turkish?” Come see my shop” “Why won’t you stop and talk to me?” You are so beautiful! Where are you from? yada yada yada). For me, the best solution was to politely ignore them. I wasn’t rude, I just kept walking eyes forward, without saying one word. Sometimes I was smiling because they are really so funny. And the most funny part was when I decided to buy something and I had to bargain with a guy until he said to me: “Ok! Take it with 200 lira, but only if you give me one kiss on my cheek”. I couldn’t stop laughing! But it was a young cute guy and I kissed him.
But if you really want to avoid that just keep walking. Trust me, they will not take it personally.
Visit Istanbul to shop luxurious at one of the many modern shopping centers or hunt for authentic, handmade items in bazaars or less touristic parts of the city. Turks make it extremely easy for you to buy things, even if you don’t need anything. Anywhere a visitor could cast an eye, shops appear to tempt them, selling everything from souvenirs and jewelry to exotic spices and Turkish delights. And, of course, carpets, and rugs, and more carpets, and more rugs…
Overall, the sheer accumulation of things makes for a constant riot of color and form, an unending feast for eyes already glutted on the city’s many beauties.
5. Visit Istanbul for Breathtaking Views
Istanbul is the world’s great waterfront cities with breathtaking views. One of my favorites is Istanbul silhouette seen from a boat on the Bosphorus during sunset. In second place comes the panoramic views from Galata Tower or one of the many rooftop bars. Below you can see one of my first videos made with SJCam Romania selfie stick. I really love this new toy of mine, it’s so simple to use it. The funny part is that everyone is watching when you are trying to get your best smile in the photo.
Then it comes the views of the palaces and museums: famous Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace.
For more spectacular views Don’t forget a ride on the bridges. Located between Ortakoy (on the European side) and Beylerbeyi (on the Asian side), the Bosphorus Bridge is one of two suspension bridge spanning The Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey.
Visit Istanbul for the natural scenic beauty, traditional culture and the hospitality of Turkish people and it will win your heart.
Istanbul have the Bosphorous, the Golden Horn & the Sea of Marmara on three sides. It has great shopping, a plethora of historical sites, a rich live music & night club culture, and wonderful cheap food.
Istanbul, Turkey has it all!
If you are not convinced here are more reasons why you should visit Istanbul anytime:
Buy a carpet.
Buy an evil-eye talisman.
Buy clothes made of “Şile bezi” (textiles made in “Şile”, a small village at the North of Istanbul).
Experience going from Europe to Asia in five minutes by boat or by car.
Witness the ceremony of the Whirling Dervises at Galata Mevlevihanesi which will take you to another place.
Take a ride on a heritage tramway that runs from Taksim to Tunel.
Sweat in a historic Hamam for a turkish steam bath and massage, relax and leave the worries there.
Cross the Galata Bridge on foot, to have the most spectacular view.
Watch the Fishermen waiting for a catch and the silhouettes of the mosques at sunset.
Istanbul is a magical, enchanting and mysterious place…all in one!
I LOVE TURKEY !!! What about you?! What do you like most in Istanbul?