Who wouldn’t want to visit the city that straddles two continents and be in Europe and Asia at almost the same time? In fact, Istanbul is one of the most visited cities in the world and has a lot to offer to tourists from historical sights and cool museums to old and new shopping streets and the list goes on.
Discover in this post 4 good reasons to visit this Turkish city as I share with you my 4 favorite sights.
1- Miniaturk Park
The next best thing to a city sightseeing bus tour in Istanbul is a visit to Miniaturk Park, the exceptional open-air miniature museum.
As if you were zooming out with your camera to get a wider view of the scenery you are eyeing, strolling the alleys of Miniaturk Park gives you the opportunity to see all the great sights of Istanbul, Turkiye and the Ottoman Empire in one place, as miniature replicas.
Without the need of a drone, you will get the chance to admire the beautiful architecture of 135 large scale models from all angles throughout an area of 15000 square meters.
2- Rahmi M. Koç Museum
Do you want to do something cool in Istanbul? Do you want to know what it feels like to be on a set of an old classic movie? If you said yes to one of these questions, head to the Rahmi M. Roç Museum and check out the splendid car collection on display.
You have all seen these cars on screen, driven by famous actors in classic movies. But to see vintage vehicles right in front of you, with their exceptional design and multiple colors, it’s just perfection.
Believe it or not, this is a BMW car!
Meet the Isetta
– A microcar also known as a “bubble car”
-Designed by the Italian company ISO Rivolta in 1953 and bought by BMW in 1955
– Has 3 wheels
– Has only one door at the front that opens like a refrigerator
The museum also displays vintage airplanes and an old train, the Borsig G10 locomotive, dating back to 1912. You can also check a 1944 US naval submarine, the former USS Thornback (SS-418) at her moorings in the Golden Horn.
3- Pera Palace Hotel
When we decided to visit Istanbul in Turkey, our friend suggested that we stay in Pera Palace Hotel and for that, we are extremely grateful. Little did we know that the minute we would step in it we would be transported to another time dimension; for more than a hundred years, the five-star hotel has been fully operational. It has witnessed historic events and kept untold secrets within its walls.
But you do not need to be staying at Pera Palace Hotel to be able to discover it. The hotel is open to tourists who can take a tour inside it and explore Room 101, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s bedroom! The man who changed Turkish history stayed frequently at Pera Palace Hotel where he had important meetings. He spent the last days of his life in the palace as his health deteriorated. He died at 9:05 A.M. on November 10, 1938 and the clock in his room still points to 9:05. Today, Room 101 is a museum where Atatürk’s personal belongings, books, newspapers and magazines are displayed.
Pera Palace Hotel was the first hotel to introduce an electric elevator.
This historical wooden and metallic elevator was installed in Pera Palace Hotel in 1892.
Today, it is still kept in its original place.
Agatha Christie and the Orient Express
In a time when rail travel was trending in Europe, luxurious hotels emerged to accommodate the wealthy European travelers. The revolutionary Orient Express was the first direct train from Paris to Constantinople (Istanbul today). Since its last stop was in Istanbul, the marvelous Pera Palace Hotel was built to cater to the Orient Express passengers.
So, when Agatha Christie stayed in the hotel in 1934 and wrote her famous novel “Murder on the Orient Express” from her room, she made the connection between the train and the hotel eternal. Today, room 411 at Pera Palace Hotel is dedicated to Agatha Christie and is visited by fans and travelers.
The legendary Orient-Express train will once again carry travelers from Paris to the gateway of Asia in 2025*.
The new owner, the hospitality group Accor, will initiate bookings for the train journeys in summer 2023.
*According to journalist and editor Rooksana Hossenally, who contributed her story to Forbes.com
4- Dolmabahçe Palace
Dolmabahçe Palace was certainly on our list. After all, it is the largest palace in Turkey. Occupying an area of 45,000 m2 the palace has 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths and 68 toilets. That’s not all. In fact, the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier is located in the Ceremonial Hall of the palace which is one of the many reasons that make it a very interesting place to visit.
Discovering Dolmabahçe Palace is also a journey through beautiful designs and architecture where Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles meet the traditional Ottoman architecture, creating a marvelous fusion. We were not allowed to take pictures inside it, so we got ourselves many related photo albums from the gift shop as a souvenir.