Two weekends ago, using my friend’s visit as an excuse, I hopped on an overnight bus to Istanbul to discover this beautiful city once again. The last time I had been there properly was November 2013 (yes a very long time ago!) when I had just moved to Turkey and I’m almost ashamed to say that even after two years of living in Turkey, I have barely scratched the surface on this one. I did end up going to almost the same places I did last time; however it was quite interesting to compare my two almost similar visits which were world apart, as a first timer in Turkey and then as an almost local – we didn’t get as ripped off as we did the first time, that’s for sure.
We had chosen a hotel in the Sultanahmet area, about 5 min walk from the main sights as we knew we would be limited on time and hence it would be better to be as close as possible to the places we want to go. Istanbul however has quite a developed public transport and you can almost go anywhere using the metro, tram and ferry connections – given the traffic in Istanbul, I wouldn’t personally use the bus but you may at your own risk. I’d recommend first getting a Istanbul Kart (similar to the Oyster in London) from the airport or a main station, which would make it much more easier to get around than using this “jeton” system they implemented – which as everything else is yet another rip off. You can also get a Museum Card costing 85 TL valid for 5 days in Istanbul, which will also allow you to skip the long queues (although for a 2 day trip as this one, a museum card is not necessary as it will about to just a little bit less that buying one).