After being in Istanbul two times over the past 3 years, I contemplated making Turkey my next home. Each time I've made my way back, the city continues to update. From newer restaurants and coffee shops, to a diverse group of people living there and traveling to the city, I'm impressed. If you're planning a trip to Istanbul anytime soon, allow my guide to lead you through one of the most underrated cities in the world...
Where to Stay:
Even though my sister lives in Istanbul, I always like to collaborate with a hotel while I'm in town. That way, I can really give you guys the true experience! I was shocked at how phenomenal #bunk was. Upon arrival, I was shown to my relaxed and chic room. After settling down and making my way up to the rooftop, I immediately met some fellow travelers from America and Australia. We got to chat over some of the tasty food offered, and delicious drinks. What impressed me most about this trendy hostel is the calendar of events offered to lodgers. From wine Wednesday to a morning run on Tuesday, you'll never be bored lodging here. Plus, the rooftop view isn't shabby, either.
My first trip to Istanbul was primarily for tourist reasons, so this time around, I decided to skip out on most of the overrated, busy parts of the city and indulge in the local culture. Make sure to check out the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia (especially if you're into photography). From there, head to Karakoy, where you can spend the rest of your day snapping pics in front of some of the coolest murals you'll probably ever see. Grab some Turkish coffee, but skip out on the food in this area. There are much better places to indulge...
Turkish Bath Time
One of the most popular tourist + locals attraction is the Turkish bath. Consider yourself cleansed for the next year if you take the time to hit one of these. Grab a group of girlfriends, and book the Hammam for a Saturday morning. Almost every hotel has their own version, but I attended Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı. My sister had heard fantastic reactions from local friends who had booked their bath here, so we took our girls in for the day. Let's just say: I've never been that soft. For $50, this is worth every penny.
Rule #1 about eating out in Spain, Greece, or Turkey: if the restaurant is empty, the food sucks. I learned that rule pretty quickly.I've been to a massive amount of cities, and have eaten way too much food at each place. Istanbul food never disappoints me. One of my favorite restaurants is called Aheste Pera. Aheste is never empty, and the food is consistently delicious. Order the Turkish platter, and then select an entree (or two) depending on your level of hunger.
My sister and her crew attend this joint at least 3 times per week. That means it's gotta be good. Located on the Bosphorus Strait, you get to eat some of the tastiest seafood while looking out at a stunning bridge. Order just about everything, and don't forget the tomato salad.
On my last night in Istanbul, I ended up at Divan in Taksim with my friend. The view is rad, and the food is all very tasty. I ordered the beef tartare, bruschetta, and salmon entree. We also ordered the ricotta pasta, which wasn't good. I was satisfied with all of the other food we ordered however! Definitely a perfect date night setting.
Istanbul has a sensational view from above. 360 Rooftop was a great way to end my week in Istanbul. We ended up taking a boat right to their second location, and partied the night away. I'd suggest heading to 360 for nothing more than drinks, and meatballs. The food is not good, yet the place will 9 times out of 10 always be packed. It's one of those places that people go to for the atmosphere, not the food.
A month abroad means adjusting your schedule just a tad. For me, that means accepting I won't be sweating it out at the gym everyday. When I got to Istanbul, my sister recommended her sweet pilates trainer to me, and I managed to get two training sessions in before departing. I wasn't expecting to be as sore as I was following pilates and boxing. Istanbul fitness is next level.