How to spend 3 days in Istanbul
How to spend 3 days in Istanbul. As I anticipated in the blog post dedicated to the looks I wore during last Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks (which, in case you have missed it, you can read HERE), I spent three beautiful days in Istanbul and I want to tell you all about this magical trip! Read on to find out more!
How to spend 3 days in Istanbul: My Itinerary
To reach Istanbul we took the direct flight of Turkish Airlines departing at 7:10 am from Milan Malpensa and arriving at 12:00 local time. The flight takes just two and a half hours, which makes Istanbul a perfect destination for a long weekend, if you do not have too much time available. In addition there are 5 flights a day with fantastic hours that allow you to take full advantage of the travel days! For Italian travelers the passport is required to visit Turkey, but not the visa.
As soon as we landed, we headed to the city center and more precisely in the Sultanahmet district, which is the historical center of the city. The meeting was for lunch at Nusr-Et Steakhouse located inside the Grand Bazaar. This restaurants chain is very famous because of the owner, nicknamed Salt Bae, and of the particular gesture with which he sprinkles salt on his dishes, throwing it with his fingertips from above on the plates. Just this gesture is depicted on the banner of its restaurant, which with the passage of time has opened in many parts of the world!
As it is a steakhouse the dishes are mainly meat based, but there is also a selection of salads. The preparation of desserts is also very spectacular, especially that of baklava (one of the traditional Turkish sweets): the dessert, made of puff pastry filled with a cream made with pistachio and walnuts, is opened in half and filled with Turkish ice cream! Simply delicious!
Before continuing the visit to the Grand Bazar we decided to visit one of the symbolic monuments of Istanbul, Aya Sofia, before it was too late (you can visit it from 9 am to 5 pm during the winter months, from 9 am to 7 pm in summer). Its history is truly fascinating: conceived as a church almost 1500 years ago in the Byzantine era, it has been such for almost a millennium, until the Ottoman conquest. It was then transformed into a mosque, with the addition of minarets and fountains. In 1935 Atatürk, the first president of Turkey, decided to turn it into a museum and it has remained so ever since!
After visiting the Aya Sofia we continued the walk to Sultanahmet heading towards the Blue Mosque, which is located just across the square. Unfortunately it was the hour of prayer and we could not visit the interior and the wonderful turquoise ceramic tiles from which it takes its name. The guide explained to us that this mosque boasts the presence of six minarets and that, at the time when it was built, in the 1600s, on each of the 16 balconies climbed as many muezzin to call the faithful to prayer (now the call is made by only one muezzin with the help of a megaphone). We then continued along the Basilica Cistern, the historic Hamam of the city, the ancient Roman Hippodrome and then we finally reached one of the most suggestive places to me: the Grand Bazar, aka the covered market considered one of the first shopping centers in the world. Getting lost in its streets, admiring the multitude of objects and jewels (incredible how they shines the windows), is one of the things you have to do if you decide to visit Istanbul!
The next day we had an appointment at Afloday, a wonderful flower shop where the owner organizes master classes to teach how to make earrings. She’s so nice and she provides a wide selection of flowers (dried, treated or fake) with which to decorate your own pair of earrings, teaching you how to compose them starting from the metal hook and the leaf made of fabric that serves as a decorative base. It was really nice, but above all very relaxing to spend the morning like that, focusing only on this manual activity. What do you say: do you like the earrings I made?
We then moved to the chic neighborhood of Nişantaşı, where there are many fashion boutiques selling international and even local brands as well as one of the universities of Istanbul. We had lunch at Brasserie Beymen (located inside the concept store that bears the same name): I ordered tuna tartare with guacamole and nachos!
After lunch we waited a while for the rain to stop (unfortunately in this season the weather is uncertain and it goes from sun to clouds and rain in a flash), before continuing our walk through the shops until you reach Minoa. It is a bookshop and a bar at the same time: two floors entirely dedicated to reading, with books of all types including a very interesting one dedicated Picasso with beautiful images of his life… I loved their chandelier, decorated entirely with books, and the corner dedicated to the cactus!
After leaving Minoa the rain was very intense, so we decided to make a short stop at the hotel before dinner. We stayed in an amazing hotel, located right on the Bosphorus, which is called Kempinski Ciragan Palace: unfortunately I did not literally have time to do some shots and show you how beautiful it is, but I hope to have the chance to come back in the future!
For dinner we had a table reserved at Mikla Restaurant, located on the eighteenth and last floor of the building that houses the Marmara Pera Hotel, with a wonderful terrace overlooking the city (if you go in the summer, I suggest you book one of the tables outside)! It is also included in the list of the 50th best restaurants in the world!
The menu is based on typical dishes of Anatolian cuisine, reworked with unexpected ingredients. To start, some entrées are served like crisp lavash bread with tomato sauce, others of flex seed bread with radishes and monkfish fillets on lettuce leaves. As an appetizer I ordered a reinterpretation of the classic Turkish sandwich based on grilled fish called Balik Ekmek (which you can find everywhere in the street food): in this case it was anchovy croutons to be accompanied with a delicious sauce! As a main dish I ordered the crab and to finish a cake made with pistachio and sesame seeds with saffron ice cream!
The next morning we returned to Sultanahmet to have breakfast in a really nice little place! This is the bar located on the panoramic terrace on the fifth floor of the Seven Hills Hotel, which offers a privileged view of both Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque. It is impossible not to be charmed by so much beauty!
Walking through Istanbul it is difficult not to come across one of the many elegant red and white striped carts where friendly street vendors offer roasted or simulated pan, or donuts decorated with sesame seeds: try them, they are really delicious!
On the way back to the hotel, along the avenue that runs along the Bosphorus, we came across some stairs of all the colors of the rainbow! They are called Rainbow Stairs and, together with the street with hanging umbrellas, they are one of the most colorful places in the whole city!
I would like to thank you very much Visit Istanbul for inviting me to come back to this beautiful city and organizing for me 3 truly unforgettable days!
See you soon here on the blog with new posts!
Happy Monday you all!