Istanbul City Guide: Top Things To Do
Istanbul has gone through a few hardships of late but it’s an amazing city to explore that is buzzing with culture and flavours making a visit to this beautiful capital city of Turkey most enjoyable.
Istanbul exists over Europe and Asia, divided by the Bosphorus strait and connected by two suspension bridges.
The European side of Istanbul is considered the old city because of its historical significance and you’ll find most of the famous tourist attractions here. The Asian side is more residential, with high street shopping, markets and nightlife.
Here are just 10 of the many top things to do in Istanbul:
We recently previewed some of the best festivals around the world in 2016. There are just so many that here is another post previewing eight upcoming European dance festivals across 2016, including AVA Festival and Conference, Love Family Park, Eastern Electrics Festival, Sonus Festival, Dimensions Festival, Outlook Festival, Field Maneuvers and Bugged Out! in Dreamland. From one-day techno adventures to hip-hop on the Adriatic and everything in between
AVA FESTIVAL AND CONFERENCE (NI) | 4th June 2016
AVA (Audio Visual Arts) Festival and Conference is a first of it’s kind electronic music festival, a pioneering event breaking new ground by shining a light on emerging and established artists in Ireland. After last year’s success, AVA will return on Saturday June 4th 2016, where they’ll takeover T13 Belfast, on the Titanic Docks for a day and night session.
Round two sees heavyweight RØDHÅD joining, the debut live show from Bicep, the return of Boiler Room, plus Mano Le Tough, Gerd Janson, Optimo, Phil Kieran, Timmy Stewart and more. On top of this, AVA’s free conference will expand to help to educate and inspire. With tickets available now from just £22 with flights from the UK from just £40, AVA 2016 should not be missed.
Holidays in Iceland have always had a reputation for being on the expensive side, but with Iceland Air’s great flight and accommodation deals and Iceland’s depreciating currency we thought it was a great opportunity to visit the land of waterfalls, fire and ice.
With so much natural beauty to see and do outside of Reykjavik we pondered whether to take the many guided coach tours or to self drive to see the natural beauties around the Golden Circle and the Icelandic Southern Shores.
Researching the Iceland activities and tours we wanted to do, we calculated that it would cost £554 for two people. Pretty expensive, especially when you consider that most of the tours require you to be stuck on a coach for half a day.
We looked into hiring a 4×4 to do our own self drive tour, which surprisingly came out much less than the combination of tours, totalling £311 for 4 days hire including petrol via Thifty. Not only was it cheaper, but we would have more flexibility and could drive off in any direction at a whim (we did get stuck up a mountain though), and we wouldn’t be stuck on a slow coach for most of our time.
Poland, the Last Leg of Our Trip
The last stop on our whirlwind tour of the Baltics was Krakow, Poland. We caught the smallest plane ever from Lithuania (it even had propellers) and landed in Krakow via Warsaw. We were only in the country for a couple of nights so really had to condense the major things we wanted to see and do in this historical city.
Our main reason for visiting Poland was to see Auschwitz. We whole-heartedly recommend that everyone should go there, but we’re glad we went at the end of our two week trip through the Baltics.
We got to Krakow mid afternoon and the weather was hot, for some reason I never expected Poland to be a warm country so I was pleasantly surprised. We struck gold with our accommodation.
Stopping off at Riga Central Market
The next stop on our Baltic trip was Riga. We arrived in the capital of Latvia suitably relaxed and refreshed and got off at the main coach station to start our Latvian travel adventure. We had to walk through the Central Market to reach our accommodation and it was bustling!
Riga is the largest city by population in the Baltics and the Riga Central Market is not only the biggest market in Europe but also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The raw hustle and bustle of daily life at the market was a marked difference in atmosphere to the picturesque Tallinn. The energy that hit us immediately after stepping off the coach widened our eyes and only increased our excitement for things to do in Riga during our 3 day stay in the characterful city.
Riga has a beautiful Old Town filled with Art Nouveau buildings, but unlike Tallinn it feels as though the Riga Old Town is for locals as much as tourists. It is abound with fashionable boutiques, galleries, hip restaurants and bars. After a relaxed day of discovering the Riga’s old town, we hit a few of these bars.
4 Highlights of Estonia
We began the second part of our Baltic trip by entering Estonia and the World Heritage site of Tallinn via the Gulf of Finland by a high-speed hydrofoil which covered the 85 km in less than 2 hours at a cost of 20€ each. Tallinn is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and this was apparent with the cobble-stoned alleyways and picturesque buildings we saw as we entered Tallinn Old Town.
The old town is no doubt touristy with its pristine streets and many “traditional” restaurants, but it is beautiful nonetheless. There are sprinklings of the new and hip with modern culture graffiti and retro cool Soviet style cafes such as Kohvik Must Prudel facing ornate orthodox churches and historic residential buildings.
Top Things To Do in Helsinki
We flew into Helsinki airport as the starting point for our 2 week Baltic trip taking us through the Baltic states and ending up in Poland. Here’s our list of the top things to do in the modern capital of Finland.
Meeting Moomin in Helsinki
Ateneum is a great art museum in central Helsinki. If you are interested in art it is always worth checking out what current exhibitions they have on offer. On our visit the Ateneum held an exhibition to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Finnish author/ artist, Tove Jansson. Tove Jansson is probably best known for her series of Moomin books. The exhibition was well presented with rooms and rooms of both collected and borrowed work, and plenty of information offered in both English and Finnish. Admission is 13€ pp.