Istanbul low budget #2: Sightseeing for free

In the previos blog post about low budget Istanbul, I shared with you some advices which, I hope, will help you to save some money while travelling. (you can read it here) In this blog post, I would like to share with you some of the top free (or almost free) Istanbul’s attractions.

Sultanahmet square

  • SULTANAHMET area is probably the area which is on the list of 99% of tourists which visit Istanbul. It is a heart of old Byzantium and later also Ottoman state. Many museums there are quite expensive, yet worth to visit: like Hagia Sofia and Topkapi palace. However, some nice and less known museums and mosques have no addmission fee. I would suggest you to visit the famous Blue mosque (Sultanahmet mosque) and Küçük Aya Sofya (or little Hagia Sofia) mosque. Also you can visit beautiful Gülhane park and first gardens of Topkapi palace.

Istanbul university at Beyazi square

  • BEYAZIT is located just 2 tram stops after Sultanahmet. I even recommend you to walk there, because on the way you’ll find some beautiful Ottoman cementeries and madrassa (former religious school) in which is today a nice nargile place (water pipe). When you’ll reach Beyazit square you have several palces to explore: you can enter a Grand bazaar (Kapali çarşi), go to the mosque’s courtyard and where you will encounter many book sellers, or follow the left wall of Istanbul university’s campus, which will lead you to another great mosque. The mosque you will find there is called Süleymaniye mosque and it’s the biggest mosque in Istanbul and it’s still successfully hiding from crowds of tourists. The mosque was build by famous architect Mimar Sinan. Just behind the mosque you can relax in one of the bars with magnificent view over the Golden Horn and part of Istanbul.
Grand bazaar
  • When in Beyazit, don’t miss the GRAND BAZAAR. It’s one of the top free tourist attracctions…until you buy something. You can get lost ther easily. The streets around Grand bazaar (also known as kapali çarşi) are also worth exploring. If your way will take you down the hill, visit also Spice bazaar (or misir çarşi). Spice bazaar is much smaller, but defenitely worth visiting. The smells there are incredible. The smell of good turkish coffee always takes me to the Mehmet Efendi coffee shop which is located just next to Spice bazaar.
    Nightlife at Nevizade- a parallel street to Istiklal
  • On the opposite side of the Golden horn you can climb up the hill to visit a beautiful district called GALATA. If you take a look at the architecture of this district, it might seem more european that turkish. This is so, because districts of GALATA and PERA were diplomatic district in Ottoman time and even today there are still many embassies. So we can say, that since 16th or 17th century on, European embassadors have been building this part of the city according to their taste.

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  • Once in Galata stroll down the ISTIKLAL street, all the way to the TAKSIM SQUARE. I hope there will be no protests there, but the constant presence of the police might scare you a bit. In any case, Istiklal street is the most crowded street in Istanbul. Every day about 2 million people passes there. It is a good place to go shopping and also to explore side streets. Some of them are really a nice surprize! In addition to that, you can find also nice and surprisingly crowded passages, like the one called Hazzopulo – the place where many Istanbulites gather and drink çay.
  • TAKSIM SQUARE was the main bus stop few years ago. Now it’s mostly closed for traffic. Next to it, it’s sadly famous Gezi park – the place of many protests which took place in 2013.
  • Istanbul is also an art center. All over the city you can find many museum and big and small art galleries. Many private art galleries have no addmission fee. The good news is, that many of the famous (private and government) museums and galleries have free addmission fee at least one time per week. Among them are also Sakip Sabanci museum, Pera museum, Istanbul modern museum, etc. If you are lucky and you are visiting Istanbul during one of public or religious holidays, you can enter free also to museums like Dolmabahçe palace.

Published by spelayla

Welcome! My name is Špela. I love to travel, read and learn. And of course, share all these experiences.

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