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Top 7 unique and local things to do in Istanbul, Turkey

2015-07-21 Vicigo

ISTANBUL, TURKEY. If it is not exclusive enough to be in Europe and Asia at the same time, there are other things that you can enjoy in Istanbul, Turkey.

There are not so many cities in the world where you can relish peculiar things that you can not in other places. Here we have the city which will offer you several unique things to do. Being in two different continents at the same time probably wouldbe the most peculiar feature of Istanbul that you can not experience in any other city. Yet, Istanbul does not consist of only this!


Ortaköy Mosque by the see with Bosphorus bridge behind it from the district Ortaköy, Istanbul, Turkey (by Sarin Simonyan)Ortaköy Mosque by the see with Bosphorus bridge behind it from the district Ortaköy, Istanbul, Turkey (by Sarin Simonyan)


Istanbul – bridge between Europe and Asia

When you decide to travel to Istanbul and take a look at the travel books or internet, you will encounter the same attractions every time. The famous Hagia Sophia,Blue MosqueGrand BazaarGalata Tower, numerousPalaces, bstunning BosphorusIstiklal Avenue and so on. They are only few of those attractions that are advised you to visit. No doubt you should visit them as they are the places that make Istanbul priceless.


Located in the European side, Galata Tower seen from the Asian side, Istanbul, Turkey (by Sarin Simonyan)Located in the European side, Galata Tower seen from the Asian side, Istanbul, Turkey (by Sarin Simonyan)


However, what about other things that are not mentioned like the previous ones. Would not you be interested in feeling more ‘local’ by doing ‘exclusive’ things? I believe you would. That’s why I would like to share – as a person from Istanbul –  seven unique things that you should do during your stay in Istanbul. I guarantee you that you can not experience those in another city. So, you had better do that or else you will miss a lot!

1. Peculiar Street Art – Rainbow Stairs


Rainbow Stairs In Istanbul, Turkey painted by Hüseyin ÇetinelRainbow Stairs In Istanbul, Turkey painted by Hüseyin Çetinel


Well, it is highly possible that you will not perceive the street art as unique to Istanbul. But, before making any decision let me refer you Rainbow Stairs. Rainbow stairs, which are named by 64 year old non-artist Hüseyin Çetinel who paintedthem into rainbow colors with his son-in law – are 200 stairs that connect the two districts of Istanbul – Fındıklı and  Cihangir. The aim of the painting makes this street art more special as it is so simple but nice - just to make people smile.

Yes, you can see varied paintings on the walls or on the grounds around the world. But, have you seen any stairs that you will not be able to help yourself from taking a lot of photos on it?

2. Fishing in Galata Bridge


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Fishing in Galata Bridge (Istanbul, Turkey)


If you ask why fishing would be unique, then I would ask you the following question. Do you know any place where fishing is accompanied with a magnificent view of Bosphorus that unites Europe and Asia? I believe that this is enough to understand itsdiscrepancy.

Also, when you experience this, you will totally feel yourself local as manyIstanbullers do this and you will be suprised to see a lot of them along  Galata Bridge.

3. Local Tastes – Street food


Local Tastes – Street food (Istanbul, Turkey). Hagia Sophia in the background.

Local Tastes – Street food (Istanbul, Turkey). Hagia Sophia in the background.


Aren’t you willing to do the thing that is one of the most important component of everyday life? If you are, just taste the street food! Istanbul offers a large amount of delicious street food which will connect you to the city more. Midye dolma andkokoreç are the among street food that are unique and tasty indeed. Apart from them, baklava – Middle Eastern dessert - and Turkish coffee are the most significant food that you should not miss when you travel to Istanbul.

Lastly, hookah! I am aware that you can find hookah in other countries as well. However, you should try it in Turkey, in the district of  Tophane where you can taste varied flavored hookah. So, just get ready to experience the differenttastes.

4. Inseparables – Tavern and Rakı


Inseparables – Tavern and Rakı (Istanbul, Turkey).

Inseparables – Tavern and Rakı (Istanbul, Turkey).


That is definitely the thing that you should try before you leave Istanbul. You like entertainment, you like drinking alcohol and you like all of them in a traditional way. There you have the inseperable double, tavern – a Turkish traditionalrestaurant and bar - and rakı – anise flavored alcoholic drink. For this special experience that you will never forget, you only should go to some specific districts which are famous with their taverns.  Kumkapı, Kadıköy,and finally Nevizade and  Flower Passage (Çiçek Pasajı in Turkish) in Istiklal Avenue.

5. Time to Relaxation – Turkish Hammam


Time to Relaxation – Turkish Hammam (Istanbul, Turkey).Time to Relaxation – Turkish Hammam (Istanbul, Turkey).


You have heard a lot about it maybe and now it is time to enjoy it! If you like sauna, you will absolutely love hammam – Turkish bath. First enter a hammam and be impressed with its traditional atmosphere. Next, get ready to be naked in Istanbul(only a small towel in your waist)! And then just leave yourself to the professionals and relax!

6. Best Trio: Ferry – Simit – Tea


Best Trio: Ferry – Simit – Tea (Istanbul, Turkey).Best Trio: Ferry – Simit – Tea (Istanbul, Turkey).


Now you have a perfect trio! What if on the one hand you have the chance to be between Europe and Asia in the middle of the Sea Marmara and on the other to taste the traditional Turkish binary, simit - a circular bread with sesame seeds - andTurkish tea. Most of the people who travel to Istanbul try the Bosphorus ferry tour instead of trying the ferry that connects the districts between Europe and Asia. So, what about just the latter one as millions of locals do?

Have your simit and tea and watch the several beauties of Istanbul – Bosphorus bridge, Golden Horn and others - during your 15-20 minutes ferry trip. Also, do not forget to feed the seagulls with your simit!

7. The Sunset in Europe from Asia


The Sunset in Europe from Asia (Istanbul, Turkey).

The Sunset in Europe from Asia (Istanbul, Turkey).


You have been experiencing several unique things in Istanbul so far particularly being in Europe and Asia at the same time. The only thing to complete the list is to watch the sunset in Europe while you sit at the rocks by the sea in the district of  Moda in Asia.

No need to write about this magnificent view more. Watch the sun going down in another continent which stands just across you and forget your troubles for a moment!


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Images from calisi

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