Asia, Europe
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53 reasons to fall in love with Istanbul

“Istanbul, a universal beauty where poet and archeologist, diplomat and merchant, princess and sailor, northerner and westerner screams with same admiration. The whole world thinks that this city is the most beautiful place on Earth.” Edmondo de Amicis

Every traveller has been faced with the question “what is your favourite place on Earth?” Typically, my answer consists of “I don’t have a favourite place”, or “I can’t choose.” There is just so much variety, so much beauty, so much culture and tradition and years of history to be discovered. And in between, there are so many differences that make one place incomparable to another; each is as unique and special as the other one.

But recently, I was asked “what is your favourite city?” My answer used to be the same, for the same reasons, until I landed in Istanbul. It took me less than two days to fall in love with it, and less than a few hours to know with certainty that this was the most beautiful city I have ever been to. Because you can have Paris’s incomparable perfection, or New York’s towering heights, or Venice’s breathtaking canals, but none of it can quite amount to the feeling of walking through Istanbul, where all ends meet. It is a mix of unique elements that mix to create a whole new kind of unique.

I fell in love with Istanbul, and these are 53 reasons why you will, too.

1. The warmth of its people

2. The architectural wonders


3. The delicious food

4. The markets


5. The artisans


6. How the sky turns a very particular rose-gold tone nearing sunset


7. Its openheartedness

8. The breathtaking Bosphorus


9. The language

10. Its narrow and colourful alleys


11. The silhouettes of the minarets against the golden sky


12. How its welcome will make you feel right at home

13. Hearing the müezzins voice fill the streets through the minarets

14. Turkish coffee

15. And of course, Turkish tea


16. Don’t forget about Turkish delight!


17. The Mediterranean climate

18. Its vast history unfolding before your eyes


19. The way the names of places roll off your tongue

20. The endless and lively conversations

21. How you will never feel unable to communicate with someone

22. Savoury, traditional Raki, a popular liquor in Turkey

23. Shopping in the Grand Bazaar is unlike any shopping you’ve ever done


24. Its colours


25. How the Four Empires collide in perfect harmony

26. Being in the very place where civilisations past converged


27. Exploring its Asian and European sides, and discovering their similarities and differences


28. The perfect way east and west meet


29. Its unstoppable energy and bustling streets


30. Late afternoon Bosphorus ferry rides


31. How sailors and their ships decorate the coastline

32. Its intricate mosaics and tapestries

33. The surreal feel that envelops you as you walk through the city


34. Its cultural diversity

35. How it looks in the winter snow and in the summer heat


36. Its honesty and pride

37. The thousands of different neighbourhoods

38. Its solemn and beautiful mosques


39. Sitting on a beautiful rooftop overlooking the city

40. Its decadence and modernity

41. Smoking traditional Hookah like a real Turk

42. Its dozens of World Heritage Sites


43. How people gather in the parks at the end of Ramadan to celebrate and be together


44. The beautiful glass lamps that decorate every alley of the Gran Bazaar


45. The astonishing riches of past Sultans


46. Its street art and culture

47. The way the mosques illuminate the night


48. It’s where two continents collide

49. How it is full of love


50. Its philosophy (especially mastering the art of Keyif; “the pleasurable state of idle relaxation”)

51. All roads lead to Constantinople, including the Silk Road


52. Its soul and complexity

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53. Its perseverance

Because even in the midst of these troublesome and hard times, Istanbul remains in the hearts of its own people, and the rest of the world. It stands strong, as it always has. And it remains as beautiful as ever.

An extended thank you to fellow travel blogger Saraj Johnson from New Zealand who helped come up with some of the items on this list! Check out her blog here.

Share your favourite thing about Istanbul in a comment below!


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