The historic city of Istanbul, which until 1930 was called Constantinople, has played an important role during many historical events over the centuries. According to DigoPaul, the city has grown to be a modern metropolis, which still has plenty of cultural monuments from its past. Despite the fact that as many as 15 million people live in the city, it is not Turkey’s capital, but is by far the largest city in Turkey.
Every year, more than 7.5 million tourists travel to Istanbul. First and foremost, many want to see the historical sights that Istanbul has to offer, but many also spend their holidays here to enjoy the beautiful beaches. The summer months are very hot, and with so many inhabitants in a cramped and intimate city, it can get very hot. Therefore, many choose to postpone their visit to Istanbul in the autumn or spring, so that you can experience the tourist attractions in more affordable temperatures.
Recommended hotels in Istanbul
- Hotel Amira Istanbul-Great and relatively cheap hotel in Sultanahmet in Istanbul. Here you live very centrally in relation to historical sights. For example, it takes only ten minutes to walk from the hotel to Hagia Sofia, Sultan Hamet and Topkapi Palace. A perfect starting point to experience Istanbul on foot in other words. The hotel has a good standard, with nice and cozy rooms, and the staff is very nice and service-minded. Here you do not have to be afraid to ask the staff for advice or tips. The hotel also has its own restaurant, as well as a rooftop terrace with beautiful views of Istanbul.
- Dersaadet Hotel – Special Class- If you want to stay in historic Istanbul within walking distance to famous sights such as Hagia Sofia and Topkapi Palace, Dersaafet Hotel is an excellent starting point. Here, a pleasant and service-minded staff makes you feel welcome from the first moment. Rooms are of a good standard and are decorated in a classic Turkish style. The breakfast is hearty and good. The roof terrace has a beautiful view of the Bosphorus and Istanbul, a perfect place to enjoy warm evenings.
- The Magnaura Palace Hotel– Hotel with fantastic location near Sultanahmet Square, a short walk from famous sights such as Hagia Sofia. Nice staff who give you maximum service throughout your stay. Also this hotel has a lovely roof terrace with fantastic views of the city.
Travel to Istanbul
The flight to Istanbul takes almost four hours from Oslo Airport, and it usually takes between one to two daily direct flights. Istanbul can be a city that is difficult to find a good hotel in, with very large differences in the standard, so therefore you may want to book a total package with a tour operator. The official currency in Turkey is the Turkish lira, where 1 lira corresponds to just under 3 Norwegian kroner. In addition, most tourist destinations often accept euros as a means of payment, and in some places even dollars.
The price level in Turkey is generally much lower than in Norway, and Europe in general. Here you can enjoy good meals and events without having to pay for the shirt. Prices in the tourist areas are often well raised, and also be aware that much of what is sold in Turkish shops is counterfeit goods of far poorer quality. Istanbul is a relatively safe city to travel in as a tourist, although the locals can be overly tiring. You have the best chance of being scammed or cheated, but also beware of pickpockets. Norwegians should not drink tap water in Istanbul or Turkey in general.
Hotels and restaurants in Istanbul
Finding accommodation in Istanbul is rarely a problem, and there are plenty of hotels here. You can get a good hotel with air conditioning (necessary in summer) for well under 400 kroner a night. We recommend that you search for hotels in the Sultanahmet district, as this is where most of the tourist attractions are located. Transportation in Istanbul is relatively cheap, but we recommend going on foot to enjoy the stylish and venerable architecture.
Dishes from Turkish cuisine often consist of lamb or sheep, and you have of course eaten the country’s national dish – the kebab itself. Otherwise, the Turks are very good at everything from meatballs to deliciously cooked accessories, and you can eat everything from steak to hamburgers at most downtown restaurants. In general, the price level is cheaper if you avoid the most active tourist destinations. Also remember to say yes when they offer you a “Raki”, which is the local way to end a meal.
Attractions in Istanbul
Historic Istanbul has a lot to offer from the rich past, and it is thus a mecca for those interested in history. Some places in the city are so well preserved that it is like traveling back in time, and the many sights will be a memory for life.
If you want to experience what is taken from a lost world, you should pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. It consists of three different parts, which in total combine over 1 million archaeological finds from all civilizations in the world. The museum was founded as early as 1891, and was the first Turkish museum. Here you can see several effects from Alexander the Great.
The blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is one of the most famous landmarks in Istanbul and Turkey. The extensive mosque was built in the early 18th century, and got its name because of the blue stone. Inside, the structure is completely unique, and it consists of over 20,000 ceramic works of art and 200 stained glass windows.
The Hagia Sophia Mosque is the most popular tourist attraction in Istanbul. It is an extremely important historic building, which was erected as early as the year 537. Until 1453, a Christian church was built, but in 1453 it was converted into a mosque. Since the middle of the 20th century, the building has been used as a museum.
Turkey is known for its excellent spa treatments and Turkish steam baths. Here you are first scrubbed clean, before you are kneaded to pieces. The prices are also very affordable in relation to what you are used to from Norway, so we really recommend that you pamper yourself with a treatment in a Turkish spa if you are first in the country’s largest city.
Topkapi Palace is also a point of interest that you will not want to miss. The venerable building has a rich history dating back to the 16th century, and is located on a mountain ledge with beautiful sea views. The castle has been used for many different things over the years, but is today a museum for tourists.