What makes a trip successful? Have you stopped and thought about all the trips you made and what trips were remembered most fondly? In most cases, it is a mixture of careful planning and the ability to go with the flow.
You need to know where you want to go, how you can get there and what places you want to see. But of course, a good vacation is not one that is exactly cut and dried. You would also want to allow for spontaneity.
This section covers very useful and practical tips for your trip to Istanbul. We’ll tell you what phrases are useful (especially when you want to order a drink and the bartender isn’t fluent in English), tips to make sure that your visa is in order, the holidays that may be a reason why stores are closed, and a lot more. You should also look into contingencies, especially for emergency situations.
We want to provide you with all the information and tips you need to have a hassle and comfortable holiday. Then, when you have all the basics ironed out, then you can start thinking about the “extras” – side trips to places not in your itinerary, an unexpected stop to a shop that captured your fancy, or simple things that, when combined, are guaranteed to give you one of the best vacations you ever had.
Here are some things you can look into:
– Useful Istanbul Phrases and Trivia
– Istanbul Visa: What you need to get a Visa to Istanbul
– Holidays in Istanbul: What’s the best time to go?
– Istanbul Embassies
– Tourist Information
– Istanbul Safety and Emergency
With tourism a very vital part of the city, you can naturally expect that Istanbul has accommodations ranging from the most luxurious palaces (that are also hotels), inns that bear the nostalgia of the past, villas, and apartments as well as hostels and pensions for the budget-conscious. For hotels in Istanbul, the accommodations include breakfast for the next day (except for some hostels and no-star hotels).
The accommodations in Istanbul are classified as:
5-star hotels. Expect all the bells and whistles of hotel services. These are usually international chains (including the Sheraton, the Regency Suites, Hilton and so on), however, there are also national chains (such as the Marmara, Merit, and Dedeman). Of course, you will have to pay premium rates for these hotels. Other 5-star hotels have been homes of the Ottoman Sultans, like the Ciragan Palace.
4-star hotels. These hotels offer service that’s a notch lower than 5-star hotels. These are usually equipped with a good pool, a decent bar, and a restaurant, as well as air conditioning and a staff that can speak multiple languages.
3-star hotels. Medium comfort level, rooms are equipped with air conditioning, TV and a minibar. Roman showers, rather than tubs and baths.
2-star hotels. Somewhat comfortable, may or may not have a television in the room. Roman showers for the bath.
1-star hotels. For those who are on the budget, these offer basic accommodation and a decent private bath. Roman showers for the bath.
Special-class hotels/Boutique Hotels/Inns. These are places with their own unique niche. You have a choice between period houses, mansions, homey inns, and spanking brand new resort-hotels. Daily rates really depend on the kind of accommodations these offers.
Hotels with no star. Simple and cheap. Don’t expect much, all you’ll find is a simple bed. Bathrooms are communal.
Villas, Apartments and Flats. For those who long for a home away from home. This is for those who stay for more than a week. It gives you privacy similar to what you enjoy in your own home. You can do your cooking, invite friends over and basically just about what you can do back at your place.
Hostels. For backpackers, hitchhikers, the young and not-so-young, hostels provide a more enjoyable alternative than the no-star hotels. These usually have shared bedrooms and baths, but generally have a warm and friendly atmosphere.
The districts where most of the hotels are to be found are:
– Taksim (At the European side, this is where you will find budget-friendly hotels and even a couple hostels)
– Sultanahmet (Usually specialty hotels – old houses and mansions converted into hotels. Some of these hotels have terraces that offer an excellent view of the Golden Horn.) You should not, however, that accommodation here is more expensive.
– Harbiye (also at the European side, these are where you can find the new hotels.)
Istanbul has a number of districts, each with their own distinct personalities. It would also help to remember that the city straddles both Asia and Europe, and thus each side is imbibed with its own set of characteristics. Add to this the fact that there is a major waterway (the Bosphorus Strait) that divides the city into two. The European side is then further separated from the rest by the Halic or better known in English as the Golden Horn.
The city itself is divided into three major areas – the historic peninsula (including Fatih and Eminonu), the Kadikoy and Uskudar quarter and the Beyoglu and Besiktas neighborhoods. These are then divided into smaller districts. There are actually 27 districts in the Istanbul city proper.
To the south of the Golden Horn are some of the remains of the Byzantine walls and makeup what is known as Old Istanbul or the Historic Peninsula. This is where you will find Fatih and Eminonu. The more schizophrenic counterparts of Besiktas and Beyoglu are to the Golden Horn’s north. It’s schizophrenic because it holds a mixture of the old and the new.
Old Istanbul is where you can find most of the vestiges of the empires that were – the Roman, the Classical, the Ottoman, and the Byzantine. This is where you can find the seven hills that figure prominently in the establishment of the city of Constantinople. Emperor Constantine wanted this city to also be founded on seven hills, just like Rome.
At Eminonu, you will find the smaller districts of Kumkapi, Sultanahmet, Sarayburnu (or Seraglio Point) and Cankurtaran. Sultanahmet is by far the most popular district, as this is where most of the historic sites are located. Here you will find the Hippodrome, the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Sarayburnu, on the other hand, is where you’ll find the Topkapi Palace. This is also where the Golden Horn, the Marmara Sea, and the Bosphorus meet. Still, in Eminonu, you will find the districts of Cemberlitas, Laleli, Suleimaniye, and Divanyolu.
The Fatih area, on the other hand, is where you will find the Fatih Mosque. Fatih is also home to the following neighborhoods: Eyup, Ayvansaray, Yenikapi, Fener, Balat, Edirnekapi, Yedikule and Sahil Yolu.
Opposite the Old City, across the Bosphorus, are the districts of Beyoglu, Galata, Karakoy, Tophane, Pera and Tunel. The Beyoglu Quarter is linked to the Old City via the Galata Bridge and the Ataturk Bridge. It is where you can find structures built in the Belle Époque era. Galata, meanwhile, is a neighborhood half-enclosed by the Byzantine walls. Pera is where you will find the famed hub for Istanbul nightlife, Istiklal Caddesi. Going further are the quarters of Cukurcuma and Cihangir. Going northwards from Taksim, you will find more tony neighborhoods, such as Nisantasi, Harbiye, and Macka (which is Istanbul’s answer to Wall Street). The districts facing the waterfront are now relaxing residential areas when once these were fishing coves. These residential neighborhoods include Istinye, Emirgan, Rumeli Hisari, Aravutkoy, Sariyer, Rumeli Kavadi, and Bebek.
Whew! There are so many, and that is just on the European Side!
As for the Asian side, you will see that these are more about residential neighborhoods, dotted with some mosque and historical monuments. Here, you can visit the districts of Uskudar, Kadikoy, Bagdat Caddesi, Kanlica and Beylerbeyi Sarayi.
Cheap Istanbul Hotels
With its rich history and diverse culture, Istanbul is a fabulous vacation destination. Located in the heart of Turkey, Istanbul is one of the largest cities in the world and a hub for tourists. If you’re traveling on a budget, there are a variety of cheap Istanbul hotels that offer the quality and service you expect from luxury chains. Whether you’re headed to The Golden Horn or the Asian Shore, you can enjoy an affordable Istanbul vacation.
Located in Historic Istanbul, the Sagcanlar Hotel is seated in the borough or province of Fatih. While staying at this luxurious hotel, visitors will enjoy many of the comforts of home including air conditioning and wireless internet access. Overlooking the Marmara Sea, The Sagcanlar offers guests a breathtaking courtside view and after eating a delicious continental breakfast, visitors can spend the rest of the day sightseeing. The Sagcanlar Hotel is located within walking distance of the Topkapi Palace, St. Sophia Museum and the Basilica Cistern, all top attractions in the area.
Titanic City Hotel
For big-city flair and upscale service, book your stay at the Titanic City Hotel. Titanic City features upscale amenities including orthopedic beds and pillows, a wet bar and wireless internet service. Guests would have no problem extending their vacation in this fancy New York City replica. The hotel is located near many tourist attractions including the Galata Tower and the famous Istiklal Caddesi. This bustling avenue features hundreds of stores and shopping centers, making it one of the busiest streets in Istanbul. Nearby boroughs that also offer great attractions for visitors include Karaköy, Nisantasi, Ortaköy, and Sisli,
The Asian Shore
Istanbul Grand Hotel
If you’re looking for a young, vibrant hotel in The Asian Shore, look no further than the Istanbul Grand Hotel. The Grand Hotel is literally a step away from shopping and entertainment centers, making it the ideal spot for vacationers on the go! This hotel offers continental breakfast and air conditioning, as well as a currency exchange. Guests can spend the day resting in their cozy accommodations before stepping out into the nightlife on Bagdat Street, the ultimate party spot in the Asian Shore. Young vacationers will find plenty to do here! The Istanbul Grand Hotel is surrounded by local attractions including the Fenerbahçe Marina and Bahariye Caddesi, another great shopping district.
The Golden Horn
Built-in 2008, Hotel Evsen Hotel is virtually brand new but offers an old-world charm that can only be found in The Golden Horn section of Istanbul. This side of town is for vacationers who can appreciate its rich architecture and serene landscapes. Hotel Evsen is only a ten-minute walk to the Turkish Baths and The Grand Bazaar, and a short ride to the Miniatürk. The Miniatürk, located world in the heart of the Sütlüce borough, is one of the largest miniature parks in the world.
Vacationing in Istanbul does not have to break your bank. There are plenty of cheap Istanbul Hotels for guests on a budget. You can have the five-star hotel experience for half the price. Plan your Istanbul vacation today!