Free Things To Do In Istanbul
Istanbul is a wanderer’s paradise, with towering minarets, bazaars that explode with colour, the smell of exotic spices, Byzantine churches and spectacular mosques competing for your attention at every turn. The sheer beauty of the Turkish city means you’re never far from a spectacular adventure, without dipping into your travel fund!
The Grand Bazaar
Though you’ll probably have to fight the temptation to dip into your travel fund, The Grand Bazaar offers much more than trinkets to stuff your suitcase with. The bustling atmosphere among the labyrinth of stores is a feast for all the senses in an overwhelming, yet wholly stimulating way. With 60 streets and 5000 shops, you’ll get to see stunning displays of traditional clothing, belly dancing costumes, precious stone and metal jewellery, ceramics, carpets and textiles that only Aladdin’s Cave could rival.
Explore The City Walls
Istanbul’s 5th century defensive walls were built by Emperor Theodosius II and stretch for 22 kilometres, from Yedikule to Ayvansaray. When you follow them, you’ll see neighbourhoods blending the old and the new, all under the watchful eye of the ancient barricades.
Visit The Bomonti Antique Flea Market
If you love rummaging through trinkets of the ‘weird and wonderful’ kind, a visit to the Bomonti Flea Market is for you. There are about 200 stalls of second-hand delights, ranging from shoes, jackets, sunglasses and bags to old records, toys and books. It’s open on Sunday mornings, so get yourself a Turkish tea and rummage with the locals!
Stroll Across The Galata Bridge At Sunset
For surreal scenes of mosques silhouetted against the dusk sky, put your walking shoes on and take a stroll across the Galata Bridge at sunset. You’ll be in the company of seagulls, fishermen and street vendors, on the bridge the spans the Golden Horn, while you watch the boats go by and smell the aromas from the cafes below. Just don’t fall for any ‘shoe shine’ scams.
Picnic With The Locals At Yuldiz Park
What better way to enjoy Turkish pastries then to stock up and go on a picnic in the park? Yuldiz Park is a favourite of picnicking locals and you’ll find birds, flowers, ponds and lush hills to spend a relaxing day soaking up the rays, people watching and nibbling on Turkish delight.
Discover New Spices
When you’re feeling a bit peckish, head to The Egyptian Bazaar at the southern end of the Galata Bridge, in the New Mosque Complex. Here, you can see a colourful array of spices, dried fruits, cheeses, sausages, jams, seeds, Turkish delight and nuts, plus, some of the stall holders may even let you sample their produce for free! You’ll also find souvenirs and jewellery among the aromatic goods.
Chill Out On The Beach In Kilyos
When you’re visiting Istanbul in summer, take a trip to the village of Kilyos, which is known for its beach resorts. There are several beaches fringing the Black Sea and, while some are private, Kilyos Beach is open to the public and you’ll find lifeguards and change rooms.
Hang Out At Ortakoy Square
Right on the Bosphorus, Ortakoy Square is the trendy hangout spot for young locals and tourists, to play backgammon, card games and smoke Turkish water pipes. It’s surrounded by restaurants, clubs, bars and cafes and if you go when you’re hungry, try a famous baked stuffed potato.
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