These are my top 5 things that keeps me coming back for more:

  • The boutique hotels in the historic part of the city Sultanahmet with its preserved exterior by law so not to lose its authenticity and keep its own charm. There is something personalized about the service that you feel once you walk through the door. Till now most hotels that I stayed in the people working in it try very hard to make you feel welcomed and try to make you fell at home.There is always a nice setting/eating area that you will enjoy either on the roof top terrace or an inner garden that is mostly tranquil with a soft breeze on good nights that you sit and enjoy sipping your chay (tea) or drink. The rooms are usually smaller than American standards but are clean, comfortable, and with character. As usual you can use sites like Trip Advisor to check before you reserve, which has now became a very informative site that I never book with out first checking other traveler’s reviews.
  • The vivid history of Istanbul which because of its strategic link between east and west has made it a focal point of interest through civilizations and conquers that each left their mark on this mystical city with fingerprints apparent in Aya Sofia, The Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and Dolmabahce palace where it marked the decline of the Ottoman empire. All will take you through a journey to the past you will see Byzantines emperors, empresses walking through the doors, hear the fighting of the men as the ottomans conquered and entered Istanbul, see The Harem dancing and singing to the sultan in the quarters with peacocks and gold, then the revolution and New Turkey emerging on the streets to what you see today.
  • The Bazaars both The Grand Bazaar ((Kapali Carsi) and The Spice Bazaar or Egyptian Market (Misir Carsisi) where you almost see the caravans filled with spice and silk coming from the east and hear the merchants shouting as it is today asking you to come in and try the nice silk and try the new spices that fill the air with fragrance and feed your eyes with all its colorful display.
  • Istanbul was able to combine the old culture, and tradition with the new modern urban life. You can enjoy a nice chay and nargeleh in a garden or on the street on wooden chairs with Turkish seating playing backgammon watching people pass by to swanky lounges and restaurants with the glitterati of Istanbul in the Ortakoy area in the most hip restaurants and lounges beside the Bosphorus looking at The Bosphorus Bridge that connects Europe with Asia listening to new lounge music that turns into dance floors after midnight.
  • Turkish Delights and Turkish coffee. To me you haven’t visited Istanbul or Turkey if you haven’t tried both and they make for great gifts that every one enjoys when you take back home.

There is so much more to see and experience in Istanbul but these things are a must on my list when ever I visit Istanbul.

Originally written for Travel Sights With Lilliy