A Quick Trip to Istanbul

A Quick Trip to Istanbul

Written by Jessica Dodson on

Jessica was in-house at Eagle Creek for more than 7 years. What’s most interesting about her, is her passion to travel and connect others with authentic experiences. Having been all over Europe, to Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Kenya, Russia, and so many more places, she is legitimately a world traveler. You’ll see Jessica hosting our packing and product videos.

A Quick Trip to Istanbul

A Quick Trip to Istanbul

Whether Istanbul is your final destination or just a quick layover, discover the top things to see and do to truly experience this beautiful and historic city.

Last fall, I spent 36 hours in Istanbul. And yes, I know. A day and a half isn’t nearly enough time to truly experience a place. But I did it. I tacked on a quick visit while on my way to Jordan. And even though it was just a glimpse, it left me wanting more and a convinced that I would be back for just that.

On my way to visit friends in Jordan, I flew Turkish Airlines through Istanbul. But who can just fly through a city as majestic and historic as Istanbul, the place where Asia literally meets Europe.

And so we did it. My post-college roommate and I (separated by the whole of the United States), decided to link back up in Boston and fly over the Atlantic to see a part of the world we had yet to experience. And it was magical. All-in-all, we went to Croatia, Jordan, and Israel over 2.5 weeks, but Istanbul took a piece of our hearts.

So…. Get to the point already, right? Ok, here are the things you absolutely must do:

  • See the Tower of Galata, at sunset. It’s an absolutely breathtaking view: The cityscape is surrounded by water, and the sun lights gorgeous colors across the sky.
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  • Check out the scene on İstiklal Caddesi
  • Take a walking tour of the city. Maps are easily downloadable nowadays. See below for a list of essentials to bring on your walking tour.
  • Stop for Turkish coffee, multiple times.
  • You have to see the Blue Mosque. Don’t worry about dressing appropriately. They’ll give you things to cover yourself if you are not dressed for entrance.
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  • Visit the Spice Bazaar. So many colors.
  • Take in Atatürk Bridge. This is the bridge that join Europe and Asia. Conceptually, it’s a pretty big deal.
  • Turkish delight. Heard of it? You’re in Turkey. Try it.
  • Take in the call to prayer. You’ll be strolling around town… and then you’ll know. It’s such a rich display of culture and belief. It’s moving.

Surprising things:

  • The Turkish flag is everywhere. It’s a heartwarming sense of pride.
  • Cats.There are more cats than flags. I don’t know how that’s possible.

Travel tips:

Most people, including U.S. citizens, will need a visa to enter the country. You can apply online in advance of your trip (the cheaper option), or on arrival at the airport. More information can be found here.

Get cash: Check ATM fees and know where your card has better rates. If you can get cash from an ATM it’ll most likely be cheaper than exchanging at the Exchange Counter. Even better is the exchange rate at your hotel.

Dress conservatively: Istanbul is a modern city, but there is no dressing like you live in SoCal in Istanbul. Be respectful.

Trust your instincts: If there’s a gentleman talking to you and you don’t feel comfortable, don’t doubt yourself. Be respectful and move along. Same thing with crowds. Most likely everything is fine, but don’t put yourself at risk.

Be kind: It’s obvious, I realize. But you’re traveling. Talk to your taxi drivers and people on the street you meet. If they want to engage, they will, and you’ll both be the wiser and freer because of it.

What to bring on your walking tour of Istanbul:

  1. Comfortable walking shoes
  2. Scarf to cover your head or shoulders
  3. Cross-body shoulder bag or small daypack
  4. Sunscreen
  5. Wrap or jean jacket for if/when you get chilly
  6. Sunglasses
  7. Wallet
  8. Camera/cell phone (obvious, I know)
  9. An open mind and smile

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

The Best Travel Shoes

How to Pack for a Weekend Away

Packing List for the City