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Top 5 Things To Do When Visiting Istanbul

Aug 17, 2007
Istanbul is one of the most ancient cities in the world, with hundreds of amazing things to see, do and experience. Here we've selected five of the best to help you make the most of your trip to Istanbul.

1. Sample the local cuisine

Of course, the first thing you'll want to do after your long trip to Istanbul is fill yourself up on the fantastic local cuisine, and where better to start than with a Turkish Kebab House. Kebabs are typical South Eastern Turkish food and although you may be familiar with the western version, there is nothing like a true Turkish kebab. A traditional kebab may be cooked over a flame or grill, but if you prefer something in the form of a sandwich, look for a doner kebab - very thinly sliced roast lamb on flatbread, with vegetables and a delicious yogurt and garlic sauce. Alternatively, fresh fish and seafood can be found in abundance in Istanbul. You can wash your meal down with a selection of Turkish delicacies - Raki is a particularly strong distilled liquor made with anise and grapes (know to the locals as "Lion's Milk"!), and Turkish Coffee is a real treat for any coffee lover. Just remember to sip it slowly and to not drink the muddy substance at the bottom of the cup (it's those finely ground coffee beans) unless you really need a serious caffeine hit!

2. Go Shopping at the Grand Bazaar

At the world famous Grand Bazaar there are some 4,000 merchants selling their various wares on this series of covered streets. Anything you may want to buy in Istanbul can be found here, from gold and silver to carpets, slippers, boots, books, purses, foods and much more. And remember to haggle! Contrary to what you might be used to, merchants at the Grand Bazaar are generally offended if you simply pay the asking price. You'll be expected to and try and talk them down, until eventually an agreement is reached. If you tire and walk away, don't be surprised to hear the merchant calling after you with a fairer price.

3. Enjoy the Turkish Baths

Whether you'd prefer to soak, steam or to have a massage, a stop at a Turkish bath can be a wonderfully relaxing break. Just be sure to check the hours of the local bath according to sex. The sexes bathe separately according to specific hours for men and others for women.

4. See Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace was home to the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years. Here, in addition to the amazing architecture and gardens, you will see swords and daggers, royal clothes, carpets, textiles, ceramics, jewels, armor, and many other wonderful treasures. Take a day to enjoy the splendor of the artistic and architectural delights that can be found in Topkapi Palace.

5. Visit the Hippodrome

The Hippodrome, on the square next to Sultan Ahmet Mosque, was built 480 meters long by 117 meters wide and could contain 100,000 people. This massive amphitheater occupied a very important place in Byzantine life. In Roman times, the chariot races held here were major social events. In Ottoman times, the hippodrome hosted polo games as well as circumcision ceremonies of the crown princes.
About the Author
Matt Davies writes travel articles for HotelHippo.com, who offer cheap hotels in Istanbul.
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