Istanbul Recommendations

Discussion in 'Europe' started by CrankyScott, Mar 20, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    This is my first trip to Istanbul and upon a late night arrival have one day free (Friday 8 April) before I start with business meetings. I am booked at the Hilton DoubleTree Istanbul - Old Town.
    • Any suggestions of what to see on my one free day?
    • Should I wing it or sign-up for a city tour?
    • What is the best way from airport to hotel?
    Thanks!
    :)
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Take the boat that stops at (suburban) towns along the Borphorus. Get off at the end and make the mild walk up the hill to the ruined castle for the views. Then have a waffle before returning. This is low key and relaxing.

    Alternatively, do the big tourist things like the mosque, the market, and the palace.

    Try to go to the Cirragon Palace Hotel at least for a drink and a stroll along their grounds along the river. The old palace is back and to the right of the main building.

    I do not do city bus tours. I would probably take a taxi from the airport unless your business will pay for a sedan transfer arranged by your hotel. It's a long ride and traffic is likely to be bad. If you've never been here and do not speak Turkish, don't bother with the hassle of public transportation after a long flight.
     
  3. Analise
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    Analise Silver Member

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    One day? Ok, here goes:

    Go to Hagia Sophia — http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/istanbul-hagia-sophia
    The Blue Mosque — http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/istanbul-blue-mosque
    Topkapi Palace — http://www.greatistanbul.com/topkapi_palace.htm
    The Spice Bazaar — http://culinarytravel.about.com/od/photogalleries/ig/Spice-Bazaar-Istanbul-/ (I much preferred the Spice Bazaar to the Grand Bazaar. More than just spices but the spices and other edibles are incredible.

    Take a boat ride on the Bosphorus. We stayed at the Çiragan Palace in 2000 and were AMAZED by the property. If you can have a meal in the older part of the hotel (the palace side), it's a treat.
     
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  4. MSPeconomist
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    IIRC the hotel has made some changes to the palace building, turning some of the restaurant, event, and casino space into grand suites. There used to be an upscale gourmet Turkish restaurant on the first floor of this building on the water side where the coveted tables were out on tiny balconies, but I don't know whether this still exists. Both the atmosphere and the food were stunning.
     
  5. Analise
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    Analise Silver Member

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    That's the restaurant to which I was referring. I hope it's still there; it was wondrous. Again, it's been 11 years since we were there.
     
  6. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    Thanks for the great tips!

    I contacted the Hilton Double tree about an airport transfer, here is what they quoted:

    Mercedes S Class / BMW 7 Series The cost is 120€ + Vat (18%) one way
    Mercedes E Class / BMW 5 Series The cost is 90€ + Vat (18%) one way
    Mercedes Sprinter VIP (6+1) The cost is 100€ + Vat (18%) one way
    Mercedes Viano (4+1) The cost is 100€ + Vat (18%) one way
    Mercedes Sprinter (12+1) The cost is 100€ + Vat (18%) one way

    My company does pay - but those rates are crazy and I just couldn't agree to those prices.
     
  7. MSPeconomist
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    I don't know where your hotel is, but IIRC the last time I was in Istanbul, a taxi to/from the airport was in the 50 Euro range and this close to five years ago.
     
  8. vbroucek
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    vbroucek Silver Member

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    I was in Istanbul three years ago and taxi ride from Sophia Hagia to Attaturk airport was under 25 Euro...
     
  9. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Silver Member

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    When we were in Istanbul, about 8 years ago, we purchased some incredible Iranian caviar at the Spice Bazaar. The hotel kept it for us in their kitchens and packed it in dry ice prior to our departure. It made it home in perfect condition!
     
  10. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    Wow, Istanbul is a great city and the sites are awesome.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Taxi from the airport was easy and only 32 TRY (11PM at night).

    Thanks for all the great tips and advice.
     
  11. MSPeconomist
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    It was even better ten or fifteen years ago before Turkey became such a fashionable vacation destination for Europeans; it was also much cheaper then for things like hotel rooms.
     
  12. KRS

    KRS Silver Member

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    I (+1) have a layover in Istanbul in a few weeks time so looking for some advice on what to do. Arriving (from OSL) a Saturday at 17:15 and departing (to BKK) "the next day" at 00:40. Unfortunately this is too late for the free Turkish Airlines tours offered to transit passengers.

    Also, a lot of the typical tourist sites will be closed or closing at that time, e.g.
    Hagia Sophia Tu-Su 9AM-6PM
    Topkapı Palace M,W-Su 9AM-5PM
    Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) Nov-Apr:9AM-7PM (we might attempt this)
    Spice Bazaar
    8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

    Similarly, it appears that cruises are more common earlier in the day (and might require some more time than we can allow).

    There is a free organized walking tour which starts at 18:00 which we will try to join (realistically though we will be too late for that as well).

    At the moment I am leaning towards strolling around, visiting a hamam and perhaps getting dinner. Any other suggestions are most welcome!

    I have also heard that the TK lounge is quite nice and would like to check it out. Some people report long lines at check-in/passport control; is this likely to be a problem on a Saturday evening? Also, there is apparently direct access to the lounge (and a separate passport control). Is this easy to find?

    Finally, would the quickest option to get into town be a taxi at that time?
     

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