Istanbul, Turkey is on my list of favorite cities for solo travelers. Istanbul is a fascinating mix of ancient and modern. The first time I visited I stayed in the Sultanahmet district due to the abundance of historic sites within walking distance and the availability of cheap accommodation. If luxury is more your style try the Four Seasons in Sultanahmet – it used to be a prison a century or so ago.
Sites in Sultanahmet historic district:
- Hagia Sophia
- Sultanahmet Mosque – known as the Blue Mosque
- Topkapi Palace
- Basilica Cistern
- Archaeological Museum
- Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art
- Great Palace Mosaic Museum
- Hippodrome of Constantinople
- Arasta Bazaar
When you’ve seen all the sites or just need a break you can spend some time eating, drinking, and shopping your way through Sultanahmet. I have visited Istanbul in spring, summer, and autumn with my favorite being the summer visit in late June 2008 during the International Istanbul Music Festival. That year Turkey qualified in the UEFA Euro 2008 and I became a football fan (soccer in US & Canada). The outdoor restaurants were packed with locals and tourists cheering exuberantly. People are extremely friendly in Istanbul – for such a big city I was really surprised how warm and welcoming people were – it is the Turkish culture and it’s also a tourist destination so they cater to tourists.
I also felt very safe walking alone daytime or night. I’m sure there are neighborhoods that one shouldn’t be walking around at night alone, particularly a lone female but I spent my time in the Sultanahmet and Taksim districts without any problems whatsoever. Taxis are readily available if you don’t feel like walking. Writing this has started me daydreaming about my next trip to Istanbul – it’s been too long! Sultanahmet Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles on the walls of the mosque, is a place of worship as well as being a popular tourist attraction. A design of tulips adorns the carpet of the Blue Mosque.
Hagia Sophia is an extraordinary architectural wonder. Originally a Greek Orthodox church, later transformed into a Mosque in the 1400’s, and since 1935 Hagia Sophia has been a museum.
The Archaeology Museum is full of interesting artifacts including the first love poem, written in cuneiform script.
There are dozens of shops selling beautifully hand-crafted Turkish rugs in Istanbul.
Istanbul is truly rich with history – the New Mosque is only 400 years old.
The colorful tile work on the walls of the New Mosque
There are little markets along the street with assorted fresh vegetables.
Tired of walking the streets? Just hop on one of the many ferry boats and take a break – you can skip over to the Asian side of Istanbul for a change of scene or tour the Bosphorus to the Black Sea.
April is tulip season in Istanbul – gorgeous blooms are everywhere along the roadways and in raised planters around the city.
A journey through the alphabet with ABC Wednesday Project where people from around the world create a weekly post – honoring the letter I this week.
I hope you enjoyed this post and please share a bit of Istanbul with others especially anyone looking for a great solo trip!