A perfect İstanbul morning starts in Ortaköy, with a traditional breakfast at one of its many waterfront cafes and a breathtaking view across the Bosphorus to Asia. After breakfast, it’s wonderful to wander around the flea market at the square, stroll pass the Çırağan and Dolmabahçe Palaces. (The word Dolmabahçe in English means ‘the filled garden’ because the Dolmabahçe Palace is founded upon a reclaimed land. It’s a beautiful 19th century palace right by the Bosphorus waterfront. It’s baroque and rococo in style and very French. Many people think that it is a model of the Palace of Versailles.) Then arrive at İstanbul Modern, the largest art gallery in the city. As well as looking around the exhibitions, you can have a light lunch in its café – another meal with a magnificent view. After a short walk to cross the Golden Horn via the historical Galata Bridge, you really feel like you are placed where the East meets the West – on the left, a big modern metropolis, on the right, an ancient city of palaces and mosques.
At the end of the Galata Bridge you’ll see the Spice Market, a 17th century building with it’s high ceiling and domes. Sometimes there is the smell of spice, sometimes the beautiful fragrance of herbal teas. Here is the mystical face of the East. Then outside, you’ll find yourself in the ancient district of Sultanahmet. Strollling through its parks and alleys you’ll find many marvelous buildings that testify to İstanbul’s long and glorious history – from lavish Ottoman halls of Topkapı Palace to the world’s greatest church, St. Sophia and up to the Blue Mosque with its exquisite İznik tile interior. Finally feel yourself transported to the 1000 Nights at Kapalı Çarşı, the oldest bazaar in the world. The number of visitors per day is somewhere between 250.000 and 400.000 depending on the season. You can visit the 300 year old Cağaloğlu Turkish Bath after shopping in Grand Bazaar, to refresh your body and soul. If you haven’t tried a Turkish bath before you’ve missed one of the life’s great experiences. You’ll find different services, ranging from self-service option to a luxury body scrub, shampoo and massage.
If you have the time, take a boat tour on the Bosphorus. Next to Galata Bridge from Eminönü pier, you can choose the different types of public boats with reasonable prices, some make a long cruise up to the Black Sea point of İstanbul (about 6 hours) or some make shorter tours between two bridges on the Bosphorus (about 1-1,5 hours). This gives you the opportunity to see İstanbul’s beautiful houses, palaces, restaurants and night clubs on both sides from the sea.
For a perfect İstanbul evening, try the shows at the Kervansaray restaurant. It serves traditional Turkish cuisine and you can watch the folk groups, belly dancing and dervish shows either with or without dinner.
And finally before you go to your room enjoy a magnificent and panoramic view of the Bosphorus as you sip your drink at the top of the hotel in the City Lights Bar with live music and/or DJ performances.