Istanbul, an iconic city and the most popular tourist destination in Turkey, has immense dignity and pride. The cultural infusion of various communities, modern influences, traditional values and its historical timeline makes it hard for me to ignore the bustling metropolis, hence I will visit whenever possible.
Most travel publications have detailed articles about things to do in Istanbul. They normally involve shopping in the historical Grand Bazaar, visiting Ottoman palaces, admiring the architecture of Hagia Sophia and delving into the depths of Islam, by visiting the Blue mosque.
Unfortunately though, not everyone likes touring historical sites and countless visitors, who have been to Istanbul, more than once, are often clueless about what to do next. So a passionate Istanbulite, decided to fill a gap in the market.
Things to do in Istanbul : Suggestions by Locals
1 : One Day Street Art Tour
Some call it graffiti, but all over Istanbul, shop shutters, car parks, old factories or white washed walls are canvases for impressive art work and murals. The street art tour visits famous urban neighbourhoods such as Sishane and Karakoy, to see pieces that would gain much admiration in an art gallery.
2 : Ottoman Jewellery Workshop in the Grand Bazaar
Beautiful jewellery is for sale in the Grand Bazaar, but visitors can make it instead! Under the instruction of a Usta (master), attendees are shown the ancient craft of Ottoman jewellery making and then they design and construct their own masterpiece. Classes last roughly 3 hours, with a maximum attendance of 4 people.
3 : Street Photography Walk
Improve your camera skills, fully understand its functions, and capture unique photos of Istanbul, by attending the photography tour around main avenues and back streets. After an introductory briefing, the tour visits Taksim and Istiklal Avenue with its majestic examples of architecture.
4 : Istanbul Bicycle Tour
Some people might consider this a ludicrous and dangerous suggestion but on the Asian side of Istanbul, official biking routes include photography stops and visits to scenic landscapes, piers, parks such as Fenerbahce, and local restaurants. Anyone can come because all equipment is provided including bikes, helmets, audio guide and safety jackets.
5 : Mushroom Hunt and Picnic
You may think mushrooms don’t exist in a bustling metropolis, but 15 kilometres north of Istanbul is Belgrade forest, an adventurous playground for nature enthusiasts. This ideal destination is perfect for a mushroom scavenger hunt to spot specific varieties, taste them and enjoy a quiet picnic.
6 : Flavours of the Old City
Visit a simit bakery to watch how they are made, savour a traditional Turkish breakfast, chat with the owner of the most renowned Turkish coffee shop in the city and watch how he prepares it. Next on the agenda is a Turkish wine tasting session in a cellar, and the chance to indulge in traditional baklava.
7 : Rowing in Istanbul
The Golden Horn is an important region of Istanbul and it beckons expert and beginner rowers, to see its landmarks from water. Experienced and licensed rowing teachers provide all equipment including the kayak and the group sets off in the early morning, on a designated 8 kilometre course.
8: Sailing in Istanbul
So if a kayak is too small, upsize to a larger sailing yacht. For a morning or afternoon, qualified sailors will show you the ropes, and then drop anchor for a short time in various locations to view the city’s horizon from a different angle. A GoPro HD video camera is on board to capture every moment, and included in the price is your own copy, to take back home.
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