With the polar vortex making every walk along campus feel like a mile through barren tundra, I can’t help but feel the need to travel. As long as it involves a plane, adventure, and warmer weather, I’m happy. With the below-freezing weather bringing people down, there is no better pick-me up than to plan your next vacation, or, at the very least, day dream about one. A tropical destination with white sand beaches definitely came to my mind first, but after a little research, I couldn’t help but be struck by the mystery and hidden beauty of Istanbul, Turkey. As the only city that spans across two continents, Istanbul has more than enough charm to quench your wanderlust.
Under the Radar
There’s no better way to see a country than to visit areas that are off the beaten track. After hitting the big tourist attractions, these areas should be next on your list:
Kadiköy: Even though it might not make the cut as the most beautiful area in the city, it definitely has one of the best atmospheres. Filled with cafes and markets, Kadiköy is perfect for an afternoon picnic by the waterfront.
Eyüp: Regardless of your views, this very religious neighbourhood should be visited by everyone. With a large fountain in the square of a breathtaking mosque, it’s a great place to people watch. But it doesn’t end there: Eyüp offers a delicious market, so food lovers can eat their way through the neighborhood.
Santral: By converting an Ottoman energy plant into a beautiful museum and art gallery, Santral offers perfect harmony between the industrial age and the modern era.
Tophane: Local art galleries and mouthwatering baklava can be found in the maze-like streets of Tophane. If you feel like spending an afternoon with a delicious cup of tea, then this is where you should be.
One of the best things about experiencing new cultures is the chance to taste delicious, and “I didn’t even know that existed” food.
Bebek: As a neighbourhood with one of the most beautiful Starbucks in the world, people often forget about the foodie paradise that is Bebek. Whether you’re craving meats and cheeses or sweet macaroons, you’ll definitely be satisfied.
Pierre Loti Cafe: One of the most popular tea spots in Istanbul, this cafe offers a beautiful place to sit and watch the sunset while enjoying a cup of Turkish tea.
Grand Bazaar: Wind your way through this vibrant spice market and get lost in the colours and scents. Whether you’re craving fresh ground coffee or spices of all kinds, this market is the place to go no matter the time of day.
When To Go
For the Music Lover: If music is what drives you to travel, then June and July is prime time for a visit to Istanbul. Every summer, they hold the International Istanbul Music Festival.
For the Fashionista: If you follow the fashion week circuit, then October is the best month to visit Istanbul for their fashion week. With mostly local designers it’s a great place to get inspired- and no matter what area you decide to visit, they each offer a unique fashion sense.
For the Film Junkie: If cinema is your passion, April is a great month to visit Istanbul and attend their international film festival. Last year’s festival screened Disconnect, staring Jason Bateman and Alexander Skårsgard, as well as Promised Land, staring Matt Damon.
If this isn’t proof enough, do some more research and I guarantee Istanbul will make its way onto your Bucket List.
Erica Headley, Online Contributor