Finally here it’s the second part of the great tips for visiting Istanbul. If you liked the previous ones, no doubt you will love these ones as well.
6 – Bazaars and bargaining
It depends from which country you come from, or if you’ve experienced bargaining countries before, but it’s a show. There are many bazaars in Istanbul: the grand bazaar, the book bazaar, the Egyptian one … It all depends what you need (and more certainly you will find it!)
Once you found what you need it’s the bargaining part. The price always starts really high, and then you have to fight to get a good deal. It’s their way of life, so even if they seem to get offended by your offer, it’s part of the game. The worst thing is after you spend some time to agree on a price you sometimes have the feeling it was too high. So what I do is fix a maximum price I consider fair, and if I get to it I buy it, even if I know I could have got it cheaper.
7 – Çig Köfte and other vegan delicacies
Calling them delicacies might be a little exaggeration, but nonetheless Istanbul is full of really tasty vegan options.
My favorite one is without a doubt the çig köfte, especially in a durum. This is made of bulgur, tomatoes and nuts, together with lemon, cabbage and spicy sauce makes a great light lunch. The only problem with it is that you might end up eating hundreds of them in your visit!
Simits are one of those things that they sell in every corner. Little circle shaped breads that cost less than 50 eurocents. It’s unavoidable to get at least one a day.
And don’t forget to try the Lokum (or Turkish delight), made with starch, nuts and, usually, pomegranate, makes a perfect dessert.
In the small restaurants, Lokantas, you can get lots of small dishes and by knowing a couple words (like yumurta (egg), bal (honey) or tereyag (butter)), you can get really cheap and delicious little plates.
8 – Church of St. Savior in Chora
A little bit hidden but completely worth to see. There are lots of frescoes and mosaics, so if you are interested, they are more impressive than the ones in Hagia Sophia. Unless you know lots about Christianity (and probably even if you do) I recommend you get some explanations, because you wouldn’t want to miss anything!
9 – Relax over a nargile and tea
Maybe not the healthiest, but really traditional is to relax while smoking a fruity tasting nargile. You can find lots around and some of them only with locals. Remember that everybody has its own mouth piece, so remove it before passing it on! In these places usually the only thing to drink is çay (tea), and if you want you can play some backgammon at the same time.
10 – Forget about the map and discover the real Istanbul.
It’s not that the touristic part, or what we talked about before, is not “real”, but once you get out of these areas you start seeing people doing “normal” life, not tourist related. It’s nice to get in the small mosques or just enter shops. Most Turkish people are really friendly and will invite you for a tea just to have your company, even if they don’t speak the same languages you do. So just leave your map in the pocket and just keep walking!
We hope you liked these tips and they come handy when you come here or at least that you get a bit the essence of the city.