In this series, you’ll be hearing first hand from the Travel Republic team members who have ventured far and wide. We hope you’ll find these interviews helpful, especially if you are thinking about visiting a certain destination or would like tips for specific attractions.
Meet Tim, head of Air and Ancillary Products. He’s travelled to Istanbul in Turkey, and shares his thoughts on this beautiful destination and why you should consider going there too.
Where did you stay in Istanbul?
“I stayed in Sultanhamet which is the old town in a traditional Ottoman building. It’s the best part to stay in my opinion, as you’re within walking distance of all the major landmarks which are close to one another. It has a lot of character and for a busy city, is surprisingly peaceful. Despite it being a touristy area, the locals are charming and polite and you never feel you are being pressured to buying souvenirs like you can be in some places.”
What were your first impressions of Istanbul?
“It’s a fascinating city and being on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, has such a variety of things to see. Sultanahmet as explained is the old town, but Taksim is a short ride away and is the beating heart of modern Istanbul.”
How was the weather/what season did you travel in?
“I travelled during spring. The weather was warm and dry but not too hot – it was still enjoyable. At the hottest point in the day, there are plenty of shady gardens to visit and relax with an apple tea. You also get the breeze from the Bosporus.”
Did you go on any organised excursions or day trips?
“You don’t need to go on anything organised as unlike London, all the major sites (Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sofia, Grand Bazaar) are all close to one another. We did arrange a boat trip along the Bosporus which is well worth doing as you get to see the contrasting areas of the city from the water.
Another place to visit is Istanbul’s oldest Turkish bath. It’s a fascinating building, a journey back in time, and quite an experience that everyone should try once. Be prepared to tip!”
What was your experience of the cuisine and culture?
“I found the culture very interesting, particularly if you like history, as Istanbul has seen so much over the centuries. It has an ancient feel to it. One abiding memory I have, is of the courtesy of the people – they are incredibly welcoming and friendly. Of course, we ate lots of kebabs, fresh fish and delicious Turkish coffee.”
Would you recommend it as a holiday destination, and for who?
“As a city break in Europe I think it is hard to beat. I would recommend to couples, solo travellers and groups who are prepared to get out and explore. Families with young children may prefer Turkey’s beaches as a lot of Istanbul is about visiting old buildings, palaces, mosques, museums etc. but that’s not to say you shouldn’t try somewhere new.”