Istanbul, a city that straddles both Europe and Asia

When sending clients to Turkey, Greece and Jordan etc. I love to use a supplier with great contacts and who knows these places inside and out. Halina from Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre is someone who has been doing this for decades and here she shares her tips on Turkey.

If you wanted to treat yourself to a traditional Turkish experience, you can’t go past visiting a Turkish bath – my favourite Hammam is Cagaloglu. Located on Yerebatan Caddessi near Cagaloglu Square it is not far from Hagia Sophia and was a gift from Sultan Mahmud I to the city of Istanbul in 1741. I go there for a massage every time I am in Istanbul. It’s open every day from 8am to 8pm. You’ll love the food and you can’t go past my two favourite spots. For authentic Turkish cuisine in the Old Town, I tend to go to Sarnic Restaurant in a narrow street right behind Hagia Sofia. It is located in the most extraordinary building with massive stone columns and lofty brick domes and offers top quality Turkish delicacies. If you are after freshly caught seafood and an open air dining experience, then Kumkapi district is the right choice for you. It’s an old Ottoman Greek and Armenian fishermen’s district near the Sea of Marmara and surrounded by seafood restaurants. Even though it is a popular spot for tourists, I just love the bustle and atmosphere of dining under the stars.

Istanbul, a city that straddles both Europe and Asia, will give you an experience like no other, these are the highlights:

  • Experience a city which is the largest in Turkey, the financial capital though not the political capital and the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents.
  • Experience a bazaar built in the 1450s, which contains over 4,000 shops. Get lost in its myriad of streets finding your way to exit at one of eleven different gates.
  • Experience one of the Turkish bath at the Cagaloglu on Yerebatan Caddesi, which were given as a gift to the city in 1741.
  • Experience the magnificent Hagia Sophia, originally a church then a mosque and now a museum. See the indents on the marble floor from where the guards once stood in their heavy armour.
  • Experience Sultan Ahmet, popularly known as the Blue Mosque because of the colour of its interior tiles.
  • Experience the magnificent Topkapi Palace, home to the various sultans who ruled the Ottoman Empire.
  • Experience the Yerebatan Cistern, originally built by Constantine the Great in the sixth century, which containing 336 columns each nine metres high. See the pedestal with the two heads of Medusa carved into it – one on its side and one inverted. See if you can locate where the James Bond movies ‘From Russia with Love’ was filmed in this cistern.
  • Experience the dancing of the Whirling Dervishes, a mystical sect of Islam who dances in a mesmerising whirl.
  • Experience all this and yet so much more and you have but a small part of Istanbul.

Maverick Travel would like to thank Halina at Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre, her knowledge and experience counts for everything so that your experience lacks for nothing!