Imagine walking down the streets of Istiklal, sipping ayran, a minty yogurt drink, and making your way to the ferry quay. After a couple of hours, you reach an islet where the medieval Maiden’s Tower stands. On your way there, you observe a broad spectrum of humanity: hommes fatals, the gentlest of gentlemen, straitlaced elders, and strong-willed feminists. In addition, unique multicultural cuisines and Eurasian architecture provide a feast for the eyes and stomach. Welcome to Istanbul.
Known as a “city of contrast,” Istanbul is the heart of Turkey. Surrounded by the Sea of Marmara, Istanbul bridges Europe and Asia. Istanbul’s position leads to sometimes jarring contrasts in the streets that reflect 2,700 years of history. But don’t let that intimidate you; this cultural convergence is a source of many artistic and aesthetic traits of the city. The rich Ottoman history is evidenced in the city’s elegant mosques and palaces of the East, whereas European architecture and design mesmerize visitors who sightsee the grand stone buildings of the West Side. A wide range of Middle-Eastern eateries line the cobblestone pavés, along with luxurious restaurants that feature Mediterranean cuisine. People live in harmony, despite their political and religious differences. All of these cultural facets create the beauty of this magical metropolis.
The best part of Istanbul is the opportunities for easy travelling. To visit Turkey, all you need to do is pay $20 for an e-visa, book a flight, and pack your bags. As a major world city, Istanbul makes a tempting trip with airfare that can start from $800 from Hawaii, and visitors need not break the bank during their stay. Due to the strength of the U.S. economy, one dollar is equal to six Turkish liras, meaning that travelers will pay six times less on their purchases there.
Visiting the Topkapi Palace Museum or eating wet hamburgers near the fashionable boutiques in Nisantasi are tourist favorites, but visitors will discover an attraction on every avenue of Istanbul. Adventurous souls seeking an exotic destination should add this sui generis city to their bucket list. Considering that spring break is just around the corner and summer is on its heels, you may even get there sooner than you think.