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Things You Should Know Before Visiting Istanbul

Istanbul is a city where many ancient and contemporary cultures come together, with the traditions of Europe and Asia mixing to create a unique vibe throughout the metropolis. Locals are warm and inviting, following in the wonderful Islamic tradition of providing a very warm welcome to travelers.

For your upcoming trip, here are some tips from Hotel Büyük Keban that you should know about before visiting our city:

  • Even if you have limited time, there are several must-sees in Istanbul. Go to the Hagia Sophia and then sit outside in the park where you can listen to the haunting call to prayer where one muezzin sings and a second one responds from another minaret. The Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, the Grand and Spice Bazaars, the Islamic Arts Museum, and a tour of the Bosphorus around the Golden Horn are other essentials.

  • The best time to visit Princes’ Islands is in the spring or fall when they’re not so packed with tourists. Book your tour ahead of time.

  • Along with so many tourist attractions, there are many places off the beaten track that can help you feel more like a resident, enjoying backstreets, old neighborhoods, and the daily life that brings so much color and depth to Istanbul. Why not rent a bicycle to get an intimate view of the city? At Hotel Büyük Keban, we have a rental service right on site!

  • If you are female, have a scarf available in your purse to use when visiting mosques. Even if you are not Muslim, it is a gesture of respect to cover your head. Everyone should also bring socks along, as you must remove your shoes when entering these houses of worship.

  • Go to a Turkish bath to enjoy the relaxing heat. Choose a deep cleansing and massage for an extra pleasure. You don’t even have to leave the hotel, as our Büyük Keban hammam is right here in-house.

  • See a Whirling Dervish show. Watch the Mevlevi order of Sufis whirl into a trance state, as you yourself become beautifully mesmerized.

  • Eat a kumpir. A baked potato featuring a wide assortment of delicious ingredients will have your mouth watering for more.

  • Taste the national beverage, Ayran. This cold yogurt and salt drink is great for quenching thirst, especially during hot weather.

  • Ride the red streetcar on Istiklal Avenue from one end to the other. This vintage transport gives a lovely feeling as you wend your way through city’s shopping area.

  • Bargaining for goods can be fun and invigorating, but it is mostly done in Sultanahmet, not so much in other parts of city. Know what you’re bargaining for, especially when it comes to carpets. Carpet sellers are pros. If you’re not equally as savvy you probably will find yourself with a lesser quality piece of merchandise than you wanted. Best not to start unless you’re serious.

Always feel free to ask our concierge for help and advice. We are here to help you have the best experience in Istanbul during your stay!

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