Four days is a short time, but you will still see plenty! I would consider a ferry trip to the Princes’ Islands since you only have one day out of town. You could consider a day trip somewhere—down behind the blue mosque there is a little backpacker haven street with a lot of travel agencies that might arrange something for you. I would recommend a cruise up the Bosphorus for sure—you can get one down at the fish market, people will approach you. That was one of the best things I"ve done there. Also don’t overlook the Yerebati Cistern. It is a nice mid-day place to take a break and have a coffee. The Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahce Palaces are all good. Public transport is cheap and easy to use. Taxis in touristy spots may not want to use the meter so watch out! Also spend a day at the Cemberlitas Hamam, next to the market.
I have to second all of these suggestions – those are the places we visited, and all are worth seeing. I don’t think you’d be bored staying in Istanbul for such a short time; there’s just too much to see and do there. But we did take the ferry to Princes’ Islands, and had lunch there (excellent seafood!).
Four days? Yikes. I strongly encourage you to stay in Istanbul because there are SO many sites to check out (I was rushed through Istanbul for two full days— WITHJETLAG! hrrible horrible). Save the “out-of-IStanbul” trip for next time…
For instance, the capital of Turkey, Ankara, is a good 6 hours of train away from Istanbul.
So a day trip out of Istanbul is difficult to accomplish, but you wanted suggestions so here they are:
I will highly recommend Bursa— the city got lovely views and wonderful historical sites such as “Green mosque” where the first ottoman emperor is buried along with son, Osman. Not sure how far this is from Istanbul.
Ankara— wonderful view of urban-sprawling city, and a robust city that is very loyal to Ataturk— they got a lovely museum in honor for him (they has his tomb there as well). Ankara has this wonderful old fortess that houses restaurants and bazaars but are ridden with beggars who try to sell small jewelry.
I haven’t been to southwestern portion of Turkey but heard it was very beautiful with the beaches and Roman ruins such as Troy (which, from my opinion, is the closest city that is OUTSIDE of istanbul worth to visit).
If you just want to GETOUT of Istanbul, the citylife and allthat to see the real Turkish town— there is a three-hour train to Eskisheir— a small univeristy town. very homey and safe. Not much to check out but the Andola (sp?) university and a couple of bars/clubs. The city got this lovely river (sort of like Venice!) which is surrounded by wonderful hamams and cafe/bars that offer hookah and whatnot. Very lovely city.
Be prepared to drink a lot of Çay and coffee— DO NOTDECLINEWHENOFFERED~!!!!!
Like some of the others have mentioned, four days is not that long in Istanbul. There is ALOT of ground to cover, but if you are set on doing a day trip, I would also suggest Princes Island. A Bosphorus Cruise is a must, but if unless you prefer to be alone, don’t take the private cruises. They will cost you 30-35 lira to go the exact same places as the local ferry operators- only 2 lira. I made this mistake the first time I was there and regretted it. Have fun!
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There’s so much to see in Istanbul, but if you need to leave the city, I’d recommend the southwest—Bodrum and Marmaris. Both are really pretty. I think Marmaris is the one with more of a nightlife—but it’s been a while. I spent most of a month between Istanbul and the Black Sea region, and took a few breaks along the Aegean and Mediterranean—which I preferred. Warmer and the geography is interesting. The bus system is terrific, and if you’re looking for a reasonable way to get around, I highly recommend it. Airconditioned and spacious. They go along the coast and you could stop and see Troy.
In terms of Istanbul, my favorite things were the ferry rides across the Bosphorus, the Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, and just walking around. People were so nice and really willing to help. Super, super people. (The only thing I didn’t like was the central bazaar in Istanbul—very aggressive merchants.)
My only tips/cautionaries would be: Istanbul is super loud (honking seems to be a nervous tic); Turkey, on a whole, isn’t exactly pedestrian cautious; and people are really appreciative of any smattering of their language that you try to learn.
It’s a great country, I hope I have a chance to return. Hope you have a wonderful time!
Wow. Thanks for the responses! It looks like the Prince’s Islands are good for a short day trip away so I think that’s where I’m going to go. Thanks again for all your help and I’ll let you know how it all goes.
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