Fi-na-lly spring again, but more importantly; it was finally time for my trip to Istanbul. Unfortunately, that has passed now as well, but that means I have loads of tips for you now in case any of you would ever want to visit Turkey’s capital.
As usual, I’ll start with some general stuff like hotel and transportation, and then in the next posts I’ll tell you what we did every day of our trip.
This time around, I flew Pegasus Airlines. This is a Turkish budget airline company that flies to Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, one of Istanbul’s aiports that’s located on the Asian side of the city. This airport is about 50 kilometers away from the city center and a lot smaller than Ataturk Airport.
Once again, I had a very pleasant flight. Nothing to report really. The flight did what it had to do; get me to my destination. I would fly with them again for sure.
The only downside was that the flying hours weren’t all that interesting. We arrived in Istanbul Friday at 6:30 pm and the return flight was already at 10:30 am. So we kind of lost two days travelling to Istanbul and back home.
Transportation from / and to the airport
To get from the airport to our hotel, we initially wanted to catch a bus to Kadıköy and then take the ferry boat to Eminönü, which was close to where our hotel was. This way, we’d have a lovely view on the old city of Istanbul. But unforunatelly we spent one hour and a half queuing for passport control, and it was already 8pm by the time we got out of the airport. So instead, we caught the Havatas bus to Taksim Square. This costs 14 liras. (= +/- 5,5 euro) and takes about one hour up to two hours depending on traffic. You don’t have to buy your ticket in advance. You just get on the bus and once it’s full, the driver will come to collect money for your ticket.
From Taskim to our hotel (which was in Sultanahmet) we took a taxi as we didn’t fancy wandering around dark streets at 10pm trying to find the tiny hotel. But you can easily take a tram or metro if you don’t want to take a taxi.
Then to get back to the airport Tuesday morning, we booked an airport shuttle in our hotel. (You can also book it online here). We took the one that left at our hotel at 5:45 am just to be sure, as we were afraid traffic would be horrible on a Tuesday morning. But we shouldn’t have worried. We arrived to the airport at 6:45am already. Either way, it was better than stressing about whether we would make it in time or not.
For four nights, we stayed at Erten Konak, a lovely small hotel about 150 meters away from the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia museum. There was a 24/7 reception and the people were really nice and helpful.
We got a deal as we payed only two nights and got two for free. This way it was a nice price for this hotel. The full price is maybe a bit too much considering this hotel is sort of a former glory. Nonetheless, we had everything we needed (the hotel even provided hair conditioner, for which my hair is forever grateful as I couldn’t take any in my hand luggage!).
But with it being so close to the Blue Mosque we got ourselves a 5 am wake up call every single day with the moslim call to prayer. While it might have been somewhat annoying, it was still quite the experience. And since it was light pretty early, we just got up a little after the call to prayer to have a little walk in the neighborhood before coming back to the hotel around 7:30 am for the breakfast buffet. The buffet was basic, but honestly, I don’t really need a lot of choice of food in the morning.
I’d recommend this hotel to everyone who just wants the basics a hotel provides. It’s nothing too fancy, but you have all you need. If you want to, you can even have dinner in the hotel – which we did once as we got it in our deal as well – but don’t expect too much of it. It was a basic meal, but good nonetheless.
So if I ever went back to Istanbul I would definitely consider going back to this hotel.
The public transport in Istanbul consists of a few metro and tram lines, and buses. Each of these can be used with the Istanbulkart which you can get at every station and have to upload with money (much like the Oyster Card in London). The first time you have to pay 10 liras to get the card, but those 10 liras are already on the card (which we didn’t know and added another 10 liras). You can use one card for more people, so it’s fairly easy once you get used to it.
Luckily, thanks to the fact that our hotel was situated in the very center of the old city of Istanbul, we didn’t really need a lot of public transportation. We prefered to walk places as long as it was possible. We only took the tram once to go to Taksim, and then one bus to get to the Wall of Constantinople. The tram was 4 liras one way and the bus 2 liras.
You can also use the same card for the ferry to Kadıköy or Üsküdar. We went to Üsküdar one evening and payed only 1,60 liras one way. A bargain if you ask me.
So that’s all for the general part, I think. If you have any questions about these topics (or any other questions), don’t be afraid to leave them in the comment section below or drop me a message.
Over the next few days, you’ll learn all about what I did in Istanbul during my three day stay.
Until next time,
With love, Ellen t