Istanbul has many attractions to offer and half of them are free! Of course exploring the many cosy streets doesn’t cost a thing, but even some of the most beautiful buildings are free of charge! So Istanbul is the perfect getaway when you’re on a budget and still want to go on an exciting city trip!
The Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque)
This is one of the most famous buildings of Istanbul. It is one of the few mosques with 6 minarets. The legend says the architect thought the Sultan wanted six (alti) minarets, while he actually asked for gold (altin) minarets. Besides the great mosque of Mekka no other mosque counted six minarets.
It is called the Blue Mosque because of the blue Iznik tiles inside that color the walls and domes.
The Kapali Carsi (Grand Bazaar)
This bazaar was built in 1461 and is still standing after many earthquakes and fires. It is the largest indoor market in the world and counts 4500 shops spread over 61 streets. Here you can find everything from carpets, spices, turkish delight, lamps,… every souvenir you wish for! They say you get lost easily here, but I found it rather easy. I took the entrance at the Nuruosmaniye Mosque and I just remembered at which side the mosque was to stay oriented. There are also arrows that will guide you to certain main streets.
The Suleymaniye Camii (Suleymaniye Mosque)
The biggest mosque of Istanbul is surrounded by a beautiful garden and cemetery. I loved it more than the Blue Mosque because it was always so quiet. There were never too many people and I was often by myself. The view from the garden is amazing! You get to see the Golden Horn and the other side of the city marked by the Galata Tower. The interior is rather modest but very beautiful. You can find a shower at the courtyard’s center.
The Misir Carsisi (The Egyptian Bazaar or Spice Market)
A smaller bazaar packed with food stalls. A fun stroll to meet colors and scents you never experienced before. It’s a visual and aromatic feast with all the colorful spices surrounding you.
The Rustem Pasa Mosque
It’s a very small hidden mosque but certainly worth your time! You can find the entrance at the Hasircilar Cadesi. It’s a small gate that leads to a stairway. If you’re not attentive you easily miss the entrance. The stairs takes you to a terrace above the shops where you’ll find the main entrance of the Rustem Pasa Mosque. On the outside it looks pretty because of the few iznik tiles. But the interior is incredible! Here you’ll find 2300 iznik tiles of better quality than the Blue Mosque all over the walls and the domes.