Monday, 11 February 2019

How To Spend A Day In Istanbul From Your Holiday Resort

My name is Vicky and I have the travel bug! I love to go to different destinations and soak in the environment, the culture, the history and the local people. My problem is that I cannot stay still in one place and with my upcoming trip to Marmaris in Turkey, I am struggling at the thought of staying grounded at the hotel for 10 nights. Last year we went to Antalya for 11 days and we took a trip to Istanbul. It was a city that I had always wanted to go to and I am a huge believer in Tilly learning by travel. So on our holiday, we took a day out to get an internal flight from Antalya to Istanbul and we absolutely had a ball!

The flight was easy enough, it seemed to last about half an hour, the plane took off, we were given our breakfast and halfway through breakfast, we were told we were landing. I love living life in the fast lane, but this was super fast! We landed at the airport and headed into the city.

Istanbul is beautiful, its full of so much history and the city is divided between the European side and the Asian side. So it's like going to two different continents within a few minutes. But when you go to a new city with limited time, like we had, it's so hard to fit everything in. We had about 6 hours to see as much of Istanbul as we could. Istanbul has so much to offer, it has so much charm and history to it and you really need to know what you're going to do before you go. So we have put together some tips on how to make the most of a day trip to Istanbul from your holiday resort.

Get as early a flight as you can

We booked a flight for about 7.20am in the morning, this meant getting a transfer to collect us at 5am from our hotel and the flight back was about 6pm. This enabled us to have a good day in Istanbul but it was very tiring, especially for Tilly at the end who slept on the flight home.

Shop around for flights

There are so many companies that can do an internal flight to Istanbul from the holiday resort airports and when we did it, we shopped around for the best price of the flights, the best timings and the best company with added extras like free cancellation, meals and more leg room. We flew with Pegasus Airlines and they were excellent from customer service to providing the nicest aeroplane meal we have ever had.

Fly to the right airport

Istanbul has 2 different airports and we flew into Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, which is on the Asian side but it's over an hour away from the city and you can get stuck in the traffic as you get closer to the city. Getting from the airport is easy enough because you just pre-book transfers that will take you from A to B. Don't take a taxi from the airport because they can inflate their prices! Although this airport meant we landed on the Asian side and we were able to see some of the Asian parts of Istanbul, the closest airport is actually Istanbul Ataturk and you can get to and from the airport more easily with the use of buses, metro and airport transfers. If I was to go again, I would pay a little bit more and fly into Ataturk.

Using guided tours.

Although I had a guide book and had researched the places that I wanted to go to, there was still so much of Istanbul that I wanted to see. When you go somewhere new, it's often hard to get your bearings and you get lost so easily. So the way around this is to do a tour. One way to see Istanbul at its finest is by using a local tour guide. You can find some that will give you a private tour of the city by foot and they only charge from £14 per person and sometimes kids are free. Using local guides means that you get to see the city through the eyes of the local people as well as your own. They take you to places that you might not have read about, the hidden gems of the city and they know the best places to eat and drink too. Using a tour means that you can make the most of your limited time because you're not going to get lost in the city.

Fit in with the locals

If you're going to visit somewhere like Istanbul whilst you are staying at a holiday resort, remember to dress sensibly for the city. Unfortunately, I didn't think about this and I wore short leggings and a t-shirt. looking back it was disrespectful because it is a different way of life in the city than at the holiday resorts. People will stare at you if you look disrespectful and underdressed.

Make sure you visit the tourist spots

The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are the places that we went to. The Blue Mosque is one of the most beautiful buildings that I have ever seen. Both buildings are really close to each other and you can easily visit them both either on your own or with a  personal tour guide. There are many more places to visit but these were our favourite places.

Go Shopping

We went to the Grand Bazaar to get some shopping because it was so much cheaper than at the resorts. Holiday resorts tend to inflate prices because they know that the holidaymakers will pay the prices. But in Istanbul, you could get the same handbag for half of the price. But remember you will only have hand luggage when you get on the plane back to your resort. Also if you hire a personal tour, like we mentioned further up the page, they could help you with shopping and getting good prices as well as knowing the best places to go

Get lost down the side streets

One thing that we love to do when we explore a different city is to purposely get lost because that is how you find different places to see and do. Sometimes we get lost and find street art and other times we get lost and find little unique shops and cafes. Obviously, you do need to be careful when you do this and always make sure you can find your way back with your mobile phone GPS. Getting lost is a great way to explore a new city.

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