2 days of baths and the Bosphorus in Istanbul

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
2
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
9
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
6
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
3
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
8
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
67 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe / Middle East
country
Turkey
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 250
Time of year visited
October
Primary Tags
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RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
141st/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 40% SUMMARY RATING: Superb

Summary

The crossroads of Europe and Asia and the former capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, Istanbul is steeped in history and makes for a world-class destination city.  I only spent 3 days there, so won’t write a detailed review, but high level tips:

  • Hagia Sofia – the star attraction and will no doubt be on your list.  Be sure to not only see this incredible structure from the outside, but also to visit the extraordinarily beautiful interior
  • Definitely get a Hamam – these Turkish Baths, whilst a bit on the pricey side (around USD100 for the entrance and some treatments), are just the perfect way to relax after a day of seeing the sights and some have the most beautiful interiors
  • Best river views – try to find a spot that gives you both the views of the Golden Horn with its various bridges and the Suleyman Mosque.  Watching the sunset from one of the restaurants round there was one of our highlights of Istanbul
  • Take a boat – even if it is just a short one over the Golden Horn, its a great way to get views of the city
  • The Grand Bazar – worth a visit just for its sheer size and bustle
  • The airport – the lines for immigration can take hours, so be prepared.  You’ll have to pay for a visa sticker (45 euros, bit of a joke) which is quick, but then the immigration queue itself can be long

highlights

#1 The magnificent Hagia Sofia - a building that reflects the transition that this city has gone through over the centuries

#2 Taking a boat trip across the Bosporus - a (short) journey from Europe to Asia

#3 Enjoying dinner with a view of the Suleyman Mosque and the bridges of the Golden Horn

#4 Seeing one of the glorious sunsets over the minaret-studded skyline

#5 The food! For once, its perfectly acceptable to have a kebab in the morning

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone