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Exploring Istanbul

Exploring Istanbul

Istanbul, a city where East meets West, is a captivating destination that seamlessly blends rich history, vibrant culture, and culinary delights. My recent group trip with Luxe Tribes to this enchanting city was nothing short of extraordinary. From the iconic Hagia Sophia to indulging in Turkish ice cream and savoring the exquisite dishes at The Michelin-rated Banyan, every moment was a treat for the senses.

Hagia Sophia: A Glimpse into History

Our journey began with a visit to the iconic Hagia Sophia. Stepping into this architectural marvel, I was transported back in time to the Byzantine era. The grandeur of the massive dome, intricate mosaics, and the history that this monument holds were truly awe-inspiring. It’s a must-visit for anyone coming to Istanbul. It is recommended that women visiting the Hagia Sophia dress appropriately. When visiting Hagia Sophia, it’s best to dress modestly and respectfully. Women should wear clothing that covers their shoulders, arms, and knees. A scarf or shawl can be useful to cover one’s head or shoulders if needed. This is in line with the cultural and religious sensitivities associated with the site.

The Blue Mosque:

After the Hagia Sophia, we journeyed to the Blue Mosque. The Blue Mosque, built in the early 17th century, is a testament to the opulence of the Ottoman Empire. Its construction was ordered by Sultan Ahmed I, and it’s named after the blue tiles that adorn its interior. The mosque was designed to rival the Hagia Sophia. As we stepped into this mosque, I was immediately struck by its breathtaking beauty. The soft, soothing blue tiles that cover the walls create an atmosphere of tranquility. The dress code when entering the Blue Mosque is similar to that of the Hagia Sophia.

The Hippodrome: Witnessing Ancient Glory

Next, we strolled through the Hippodrome, an ancient chariot racing track. Though the grandstands are long gone, the Obelisk of Theodosius and the Serpent Column still stand as remnants of the Byzantine Empire’s glory. It’s a serene place to appreciate the city’s layered history.

Bosphorus Yacht Cruise:

Sailing Between Continents, the Bosphorus Strait is the boundary line between Europe and Asia. One of the highlights of this group trip was a private yacht cruise on the Bosphorus Strait. Sailing between Europe and Asia, I marveled at the placement of historic palaces, modern skyscrapers, and charming fishing villages along the shoreline. The stunning views of the Bosphorus Bridge and the tranquil waters make this experience unforgettable. Our group enjoyed a nice dinner filled with laughter, music, and a mesmerizing sunset.

Taksim Square:

Taksim Square is the heartbeat of modern Istanbul. Surrounded by shops, restaurants, and cultural venues, it’s a vibrant place to experience the city’s contemporary side. I enjoyed shopping for souvenirs and eating Turkish street food while people-watching. Leaving Taksim Square we walked down a picturesque pedestrian road that led us to Galata Tower.

Galata Tower:

For a panoramic view of the city, I ascended the Galata Tower. The 360-degree view of Istanbul was simply breathtaking. It’s a great spot to capture the city’s picturesque skyline and snap some memorable photos. If you want a bird’s-eye view of Istanbul, the Galata tower is the place to go.

Banyan: A Culinary Journey:

Dining at The Michelin-rated restaurant Banyan was a culinary adventure. The fusion of traditional Turkish flavors with a modern twist was exquisite. Every dish was a work of art, and the experience was a true gastronomic delight. In addition to the great food experienced at the Banyan, the panoramic views overlooking the Bosphorus Strait from inside the restaurant were amazing as well. You should definitely visit this restaurant and take time to walk around the charming area in which this restaurant is located.

Turkish Ice Cream:

Being served ice cream in Istanbul was a playful treat. No trip to Istanbul is complete without trying Turkish ice cream. The playful vendors’ antics while serving ice cream are a delightful experience. The stretchy, chewy ice cream with unique flavors is a must-try treat that adds a sense of fun to your journey.

Sheraton Istanbul City Center:

Our group stayed at the Sheraton Istanbul City Center, which provided a luxurious and comfortable base for our explorations. The hotel’s amenities, attentive staff, great breakfast buffet, and central location made it a perfect choice for unwinding after a day of sightseeing. An added bonus when staying at this hotel is the free shuttle to Taksim Square.

This group trip to Istanbul was a remarkable blend of history, culture, and gastronomy. From the historical treasures like the Hagia Sophia to the modern vibrancy of Taksim Square, this city has something to offer every traveler. I returned home with a heart full of cherished memories and a longing to return to the enchanting crossroads of Istanbul.