Istanbul – the city on two continents! During my childhood, my dad raved about this adventurous and historical city on the Bosphorus. From the Grand Bazaar to the boat trips on the river, which separates Europe and Asia, Istanbul is everything I remember my dad telling me about. Lisa had already discovered this metropolis on the Bosphorus for herself and she brought back a Hamman towel for me as a souvenir. But is the Turkish metropolis also suitable for a city trip in winter? I’ve figured it out for you last weekend on my way to Istanbul!
There are direct flights to this metropolis from a lot of cities in Germany.
For me, I flew from Stuttgart to Istanbul via Turkish Airlines, whose service and onboard entertainment really impressed me.
Sleeping right on the Bosphorus in Shangri-La
Okay, to be able to watch the sunrise on the Bosphorus directly from your bed is truly a delightful experience; the gulls draw their first circles, the Bosphorus ferries head out on their rides, and the city is slowly awakening. My hotel room at the Shangri-La Bosporus was dipped in a golden light, and in this almost-kitschy atmosphere one thing was clear: This can only be a good day!
This luxury hotel is located on the Bosphorus and scores points for not only the magnificent view of the Straits and the Asian continent, but also for the spacious rooms, the bathroom with a TV, the restaurants, and the spa area. But more hot details on that later.
The wildest rumors about Istanbul’s bazaars
We travelled by boat from one continent to another and visited Kadikoy (an idyllic district on the Asian side of the Bosphorus) before going to the huge markets located in the city.
The wildest carnival barkers, lamps, and handbags are easy to find at the “Grand Bazaar.” Goods are traded over chatter and haggling in this huge space which spans more than 30,000 square meters. There’s tea or fresh Mokka and even the best Dürüm the city can be found here.
For me, it was a little too aggressive there and I liked the smells and colors of the spice market better. Culinary treats though. The bazaar is simply huge and is home to approximately 4,000 shops.
The most beautiful mosque in Istanbul: The Sakirin Mosque
The Sakirin mosque is considered the most modern mosque in the Turkish metropolis. It is also one of the most exciting things for me because it was designed by the female interior designer, Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu, which is unfortunately a rarity in a country like Turkey. The bright mosque also welcomes Christians and other faiths. For me, the hour spent at the Mosque was informative and once again showed me how important it is to be open to accepting new things and to refute prejudice.
The deep relaxation of a few hot hours spent in the Hammam
A discovery tour through Istanbul is tiring, so of course there’s one thing which shouldn’t be missed: A classic treatment in the hammam! Quite easily, I was invited by the CHI Spa at Shangri-La to spend an hour on warm stone, which is a tradition. I must admit, you first feel a bit like an old Sultan or a patient receiving long-term care – to be scrubbed and washed by a stranger is a bit strange. But with relaxing sounds in the ear and pleasant smells in the nose, the hammam’s program is: enjoy, relax, and drift away on the warm foam and the enormity of the whole experience. The different temperatures allow the senses (and the nipples, but hey, it’s just us) to dance the tango and after the final cold showers, it’s back to reality. Hammam, I like you!
City trip in winter: Istanbul
The temperature is around 15 degrees in late November and we had sunshine and enjoyed the wind on the boat trip on the Bosphorus. The leaves dance through the landscape, seagulls cackle, and cats lounge in the warm winter sun. If the weather is still a bit cool, there’s hot mocha! Maybe later you can get properly warmed up in the hammam. Even in winter, Istanbul is so worth a visit.