The best thing about flying on Turkish Airlines from Johannesburg is that you arrive so early in the morning in Istanbul you don’t loose a day, instead you feel revitalised after such a relaxing flight with superb service and friendly staff.

When I land in Istanbul I feel as if I have landed in my second home now, so getting around is quick and easy but even if its your first time the general efficiency and helpfulness of the people makes it a pleasure and stress free.

A few personal rules for me when I land :

Once I have my baggage I go to the Starbucks which is directly opposite the check in for the city tour that Turkish Airlines overs it customers, my reason being I get to use the wifi there to check my route etc.
Draw money at an ATM in the airport , its just easier
Walk to the metro, buy a metro card ( because I know I will use it multiple times ) then hop on the metro to Aksaray, once there take the short walk to the tram station. Catch the tram to Sultanahmet.
When I get out I buy a sim card ( usually from Turkcell as they offer the best package deals ) but note the sim card will only work for 30 days.
Then I walk to my hotel. This is a cheap and pleasant way to welcome myself to Istanbul as I smell the morning fresh air and listen to the sounds of the camii’s calling out.

What next :

Generally I use Euro Stars Hotel in Sirckei because it is so well located, right next to a tram line and the Marmary line and a few hundred metres from the Bosphorus. Besides that the rooms are spacious and the breakfast buffet has never disappointed.
After check in walk down to the old train station which is now the Marmary line and catch a train from Sirkeci to Uskudar on the Asian side.
Hop out and catch a bus to Hollywood cafe, you can opt to sit in a cadillac booth and you must order the Manti dish. With a full glass front you can look out at the Bosphorus.
Stroll back along the boardwalk, stopping to view the Maidens Tower, you can take a ferry to mythical tower for 20TL. Otherwise sit on the side of the river at one of the many Cay stops and watching the seagull frenzy as passers by throw away unwanted pieces of simit.
Just before you reach the ferry stop you will see a sculpture made by Faruk Akin to commemorate the declaration of The Turkish republic in1923.
Catch the ferry from Uskudar to Besiktas, when you climb off turn left onto the main road if you want to see Dolmabache Palace of right to go to Ciragon Palace.

Train station
Old train station

Hollywood Cafe Cadillac
Bright interior of Hollywood Cafe









My indulgent Moment :

I chose to go to Ciragon Palace and enjoy the high tea which takes place 7 days a week from 3pm to 5pm and on the weekend the soft sounds of a piano player fill the room adding to the sophisticated ambience.
The perfect way to end off a first day in Istanbul, I would recommend staying here until sunset and then walking out into the gardens and admiring the beautiful evening sky over the river and on a warm evening sit by the pool side sipping on a cocktail.

To end off the evening catch an Uber back to your hotel or take the rather long stroll to Kabatas and catch the tram back to Sirkeci.

This is just the start to amazing holiday in Turkey