Spring Break is over for me and I’m still in a post-vacation haze. I was lucky enough to spend ten days in Northern Greece and Turkey, and I can’t stop talking about it! For this post, I’m going to focus on the Istanbul portion of my trip and tell you the five things you can’t miss. Here we go!
1. Grand Bazaar
Have you ever felt flustered and excited at the same time? That’s how you’ll feel at the Grand Bazaar. There are over 3,000 shops of jewelry, Turkish delight, spices, scarves, and more to sift through. The shopaholic in me was in heaven. Although I’m not the biggest fan of haggling for lower prices, the Grand Bazaar felt less stressful for me to haggle in. Not getting the price you want? Look at the other 3,000 shops! Go back if you can’t find the same thing. I recommend looking for some “evil eye” jewelry, pottery (ask if it’s food-safe before purchasing), or colorful scarves.
2. Turkish Hammam
The Turkish Hammam or “bath” was a new, interesting experience for me. The package I chose included a scrub, a soap bath, and a massage. However, to experience the Hammam you have to be naked in front of people (of your own gender). If you throw away your modesty for those couple hours, you will not regret it. After my appointment, I had the cleanest, smoothest skin on the planet.
3. Visit the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace
Your visit is not complete without seeing these gorgeous sights. All a short walk from each other, you can visit these three in one day! I personally loved the Blue Mosque for their gorgeous domes and low hanging chandeliers. Make sure to dress modestly for the Blue Mosque, and bring a scarf to cover your head if you are a woman. The Hagia Sophia is a fun trip into history, as it was a church turned into a mosque. Don’t miss the upper level while you’re there. Topkapi Palace is rich in luxury, and has many rooms to explore. Just make sure to read the names of the rooms before you enter. I unintentionally took my current profile picture in the “Circumcision Room.” The palace’s jewelry exhibition was a personal favorite of mine. Go and see the 86 carat “Spoonmaker’s Diamond” while visiting, it’s the fourth largest diamond in the world!
4. Take a Cruise on the Bosphorus!
On one side of the boat, there’s Europe. On the other, Asia. That should be convincing enough. I did a cheaper option down the Bosphorus, but there are also dinner cruises available. There are some great sights to see from the boat, so if you’re a photo buff like me, I highly recommend taking the cruise.
5. Eat Turkish Delight!
As a kid, I thought Turkish Delight was just a candy found in Narnia. Lucky for me, the sweet is alive and well in Turkey! We visited a spice market and were fed sample after sample of heaven. I recommend buying some strawberry or pomegranate pistachio Turkish Delight. If you’re bringing it back home with you, ask to have it vacuum sealed to keep it fresh.