Sunday, January 19, 2014

Travel: One Day in Istanbul, Turkey

The view from the rooftop of our hotel

We had a one day layover at Istanbul, Turkey, before our Israel tour started and because I have never been to Istanbul, I wanted to see as much as I could in that one day that I was there. So here it is: places we visited, the hotels we stayed in, and information on how to get around. Hopefully it will help you plan your trip when you get a chance to go to Istanbul. It is just a lovely city.

We flew Singapore Airlines direct from Singapore to Istanbul and stayed overnight at Hotel Nena, which was conveniently located near an MRT stop. Just like Singapore, you can take the MRT from the airport (Attaturk Havalimani) and go pretty much everywhere. To this hotel, the route will be Attaturk Havalimani - Zeytinburnu - Sultanahmed (train towards Kabatas). 

The hotel was small, but it was clean and strategically located to the main tourist attractions, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Muesum, and Topkapi Palace.

What did we do and go during our one day stay in Istanbul?

1. Hagia Sophia MuseumI love the colors of this museum and oh, look at those chandeliers!

2. Topkapi PalaceI just love the mosaic tiles all over the buildings. They are so intricate.

3. Blue Mosque

4. Handicrafts Center and shopping streets within walking distance from the Blue Mosque (you will see the signs nearby). The handicrafts center had shops that sell dolls, glass, porcelain, calligraphy, fabric painting, etc.

handicrafts center

5. Took the Bosphorus River Cruisethe body of water that passes along the shores of Istanbul and is the physical divider between the continents of Europe and Asia, and watched sunset (you can book on the spot in front of Hagia Sophia or Topkapi Palace). It costed about 15-20 € for a two-hour cruise, viewing a lot of the important places along the Bosphorus strait with English guide. The views, bridges, and sunset was very nice for photography.

We even saw Costa Atlantica cruiseship docked here. Reminds me of my Costa Atlantica cruise to Malaysia. So if you're interested, you can take a cruise to Istanbul too!

6. Grand Bazaar (2 stops from our hotel: Beyazt-Kapalicarsi)

What did we eat and drink there?

1. Tried fresh pomegranate juice. Full of antioxidants!

2. Ate kebabs near our hotel for lunch.

3. Tried this hot milk mixed with spices. Interesting taste.

4. Tried Turkish Delights that were made with pistachio and honey (not sugar) and brought some home (vacuum packed) for souvenirs.

5. Had a really nice Turkish dinner at The Han Restaurant. Highly recommended! They make their versions of prata using a hot stone. Everything we ordered were delicious!

One thing that we didn't try is the Turkish Baths. We were too tired to try one as we had an early morning flight to Israel. We'd love to go back and explore other parts of Turkey next time. :)


  1. Hey its Chris Brown from UK, great blog, keep sharing. For cheap tickets for Istanbul visit euroafricatravel.!!