On Sunday we travelled to Topkapi Palace which was the primary residence of the Ottoman Empire rulers and a sprawling complex. Having come from the land of castles and palaces (Europe) Topkapi was not a disappointment, but it did not stand out as the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque had on the previous day. One of the highlights, however, was lunch on the Palace grounds overlooking the Bosporus Strait. After thoroughly exploring the Palace and adjacent gardens we struck out for the Asian side of Istanbul via ferry, another quintessential tourist experience and opportunity to rub elbows with fellow tourists and Turkish commuters alike. After two strong days of sightseeing, we made our way back home for a quiet dinner in preparation for our morning flight to Cappadocia and her fairy chimneys.
Guidebooks – We used Lonely Planet Turkey for this portion of our trip and were very happy with it. It was useful both during the planning phase before the trip and while in the country traveling. We didn’t have any guidebook specifically for Istanbul and never found the need for one with Lonely Planet Turkey.
Topkapi Palace – This is an expansive complex and can take you anywhere from a couple hours to a full day to visit depending on your interest. Regardless of how long you plan on spending there I would recommend starting your visit first thing in the morning avoid the biggest crowds. Stroller note – there are some areas where you will have to leave the stroller outside, but overall it was pretty stroller friendly and given how expansive it was I was glad to have it. – Must See!
Overall – We had a very fast 3 day trip to Istanbul. There is so much to see you could spend much longer exploring the city and the area then we did, but I wouldn’t recommending going for any less than the 3 nights. As you can tell we had a marathon visit; and we had no jetlag to contend with, depending on where you are traveling from you’ll want to give yourself extra time to adjust. It’s an amazing city and is well worth visiting if you ever have the chance.