Istanbul, Turkey

Heaving with 14 million people and millennia of rich history at every turn, Istanbul may shatter all your hopes of ever landing on a more spellbinding destination.

The Sultanahmet District, Istanbul’s UNESCO-heritage-designated Old City, roughly corresponds to the city limits of ancient Constantinople (Istanbul’s moniker prior to Ottoman conquest). Sultanahmet is a phenomenal piece of real estate, whether or not you are drawn to history at all — if history interests you in the least, however, you’re in for the treat of a lifetime.

We’re talking myriad rich layers — civilizations built upon civilizations — dating back to the ancient city of Byzantium and beyond.

Simply put, as long as civilization has existed, it has existed here. You do not have to be Turkish to feel a deeply personal — even primordial — pull to this ancient and beautiful place.

Our flight arrived into Ataturk International airport about half past four. It was an absolutely brilliant day from 35,000 feet, which continued through our final approach. Sure, we may have spent 30 minutes in a holding pattern waiting to get the go ahead to land, but the delay was tempered by the sweeping views of Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara on a crystal clear day (yay for window seats!).

In the sky, prior to arrival, we had already made the decision to push back our outgoing ticket date. It wasn’t cheap, but in hindsight perhaps one of the best travel decisions we’ve ever made.

A week in Istanbul — and no, it was nowhere near enough…but a damn good start.

Keep Reading » Istanbul

Istanbul: Cradle of Civilizations
Istanbul — heaving with 14 million people and millennia of rich culture and history at every corner may have shattered our hopes of ever landing on such a discovery again.
Istanbul: Boat Up the Bosphorus
We take a public ferry up the Bosphorus, the 17-mile strait separating Europe and Asia and linking the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.
Istanbul: Palace & Grand Bazaar
Our second full day includes too much to cover in a single post. We’ll start with fabulous Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar and see where that gets us.
Istanbul: Exploring Galata & Taksim
We visit infamous Taksim Square where protests/ clashes with security forces made headlines recently — but not before we visit hippie-alternapunk-central.
Hiking Istanbul’s Ancient Land Walls
Walking Istanbul’s 1,600-year-old city walls offers a glimpse of this fascinating metropolis' ancient past and ambitious future—and a healthy dose of exercise.
Istanbul’s Mysterious Underworld
What happens when empires build cities upon empires? A lot of cool stuff gets buried in the process.
Istanbul’s Mysterious Basilica Cistern
Enigmatic, evocative, and overflowing with history, Istanbul's ancient Basilica Cistern will surprise you (and maybe even creep you out a bit too).
Istanbul: Asia and the Land Walls
Our fifth and final day offered a glimpse of Istanbul’s ancient past and promising future, as we trekked the city’s 2,600-year-old ramparts, had tea in view of a legendary island
Istanbul: Antique Hippodrome Apartments
Antique Hippodrome Apartments are an unbeatable lodging/hotel deal in the heart of Istanbul's Old City, just minutes away from the major UNESCO sights.
Istanbul: Palatium Cafe…and Dungeon?
When we found Palatium Cafe in the heart of Istanbul, we thought we had stumbled upon just another trendy coffee shop in the heart of the Old City...until we went
Istanbul: Suleymaniye & New Mosque
Exploring two of Istanbul’s mighty mosques: the mammoth and magnificent Süleymaniye, and the lively New Mosque.
Istanbul, Turkey

More from AwayGoWe »

The In-Between Days
Keeping things fun at the height of monsoon, enjoying Noe’s summer milestones and preparing for the year’s biggest adventure!
Inhambane City
There is little reason why Inhambane City should still exist today, and yet it has endured the tides of change with quiet dignity, as the fickle goddess of progress giveth
Defining Wealth In Swaziland
Our Capstone team travels to Swaziland to research new ways of measuring wealth for Pact, International.
The Cow that Laughs and Smiles
Chronicling a cheesy love affair with two upbeat bovine brands — I make a stomach-churning error which forces me to face the moo-sic.
Back-a-Bush & Butterflies
Back in Belize, we take ma and pa on the recently-dubbed “Toledo Adventure Trail” loop, visiting a friend’s organic farm and guesthouse and a Blue Morpho butterfly farm in San
Daily Life, 16 May – 5 June
Sliding back into rainy season and home base routines—but not without new discoveries, capital city adventures, and a handful of big milestones on the horizon.
China Budget & Trip Report
Our itinerary, lodging info and detailed budget from our time traveling through China from 29 June to 29 July 2012.
Zanzibar: Mbuyuni Beach Village
Quite possibly our most favorite place we’ve ever stayed in all the world — we took a leap of faith on a deal at a lodge few had heard of,
Pulau Pandan Island
A 3km paddle from Bigfin gets us to the beautiful little uninhabited island of Pandan. Uninhabited, yes—but far from deserted, as we quickly discover.