Solo trip to Istanbul Turkey – Land of Both Ancient and Modern

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After my first solo trip to Istanbul Turkey it turned into one of my favorite cities in the world. Istanbul is a fascinating mix of ancient and modern. The first time I visited on my own 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.

Tourist 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

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Meze platter - Istanbul Turkey

Meze is a must try food in Istanbul Turkey


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).

Both locals and tourists packed the outdoor restaurants, cheering exuberantly. I found the people of Istanbul extremely friendly, especially for such a big city. Because Istanbul is a big tourism destination they do cater to tourists, and the Turkish are warm and welcoming people.


Turkish flag in Istanbul

Huge Turkish flag hanging from a building


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.


Blue eye & green eye cat in Istanbul, Turkey

Blue eye & green eye cat in Istanbul


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.


Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque) Istanbul Turkey

Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Mosque – known as 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.


Hagia Sophia - Mosaic - Istanbul Turkey

An elaborate mosaic at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul Turkey


The Archaeology Museum is full of interesting artifacts including the first love poem, written in cuneiform script. You can also see the Gate of Ishtar at the museum.


Ancient doors - Archaeological Museum

Ancient door with copper repousse at Archaeology Museum in Istanbul Turkey


There are dozens of shops selling beautifully hand-crafted Turkish rugs in Istanbul.


Weaving Silk - Istanbul Turkey Sultanahmet historical district

A woman weaving silk in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul Turkey


Istanbul is truly rich with history – the New Mosque is only 400 years old.


New Mosque and tulip sculpture - Istanbul Turkey

New Mosque and tulip sculpture in Istanbul Turkey


The colorful tile work on the walls of the New Mosque


Tiles at New Mosque - Istanbul Turkey

Tiles at New Mosque in Istanbul – it is over 400 years old!


There are little markets along the street with assorted fresh vegetables.


Fresh vegetables - Istanbul Turkey

Fresh vegetables at a neighborhood market in Istanbul Turkey


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.


Bosphorus ferry to Black Sea

Take a ferry up the Bosphorus for a magnificent view of the Black Sea


April is tulip season in Istanbul – gorgeous blooms are everywhere along the roadways and in raised planters around the city.


Tulips - Istanbul Turkey

Tulips blooming in April – Istanbul Turkey


I hope you enjoyed this post and please share a bit of Istanbul with others especially anyone looking for a great solo trip!

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

15 Replies

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  1. Leovi says:

    Wonderful, I love susfotos Istanbul, gorgeous tulips!

  2. Kalpana Solsi says:

    The blue mosque , its coloured tile-work, the tulips etc are so beautiful. Istanbul is unique.

  3. oh my goodness. turkey is still on my bucket list even though i’ve seen a little part of it. i haven’t been to istanbul and i’m dreaming of visiting.

  4. MORE delicious food! And other pretty pics.
    Istanbul! (NOT Constantinople?)


  5. salma says:

    Who doesn’t love Turkey. Would love to visit someday.
    I love your photos and the idea of you travelling solo :)

    Thanks for your visit to my blog Susan!

  6. Leslie says:

    Oh my goodness! Now you’ve made me add this to my bucket list! Gorgeous photos and intriguing places to visit.


  7. Shelley says:

    Thanks for the article and great pics! I’m visiting Istanbul for the first time in October and just starting to investigate for the trip.

  8. eric says:

    Hi Susan, I’m a native New Yorker and I tell you, after 2 trips to Istanbul, I wish I had the bucks and language skills to live there. It’s just breathtaking !

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