The Best of Istanbul – Photo Essay

| January 14, 2013 | 83 Comments

There have been a few places around the world that we have travelled to that we hadn’t really given too much thought to before visiting. We are ashamed to admit that Istanbul in Turkey is one of those places.

As one of the largest cities in the world, and bordering Asia and Europe, we should have expected more. A lot more. But we basically didn’t do our research. We were really only in Turkey for the ANZAC Day celebrations along the Gallipoli Peninsula and our Sail Turkey adventure.

By the end of our 4 days exploring the city from our Istanbul vacation rental, including the incredible UNESCO World Heritage historic city centre, we felt incredibly lucky to have even had that long in Istanbul. Since then we have also vowed to do the proper research to make sure we don’t miss out on any other potentially amazing cities in the future!

Istanbul Photo Essay

These are our favourite photos from Istanbul. We hope you can see why the city grew on us so quickly.

Istanbul Panorama from Tower Galata

Istanbul UNESCO World Heritage Historic City Centre Panorama from Galata Tower

Istanbul New Mosque Yeni Camii HDR

Istanbul New Mosque

Blue Mosque Sunset Istanbul

Sultan Ahmed Blue Mosque at Sunset

Blue Mosque Istanbul Sultan Ahmed HDR

Sultan Ahmed Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque Istanbul HDR

Minarets and Entrance to Sultan Ahmed Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque Foot Wash Tap

Foot Washing Area, Sultan Ahmed Blue Mosque

Istanbul Street Food Kebab

Kebab Street Food in Istanbul

Istanbul Street Food Cart at Night

Fresh Corn on the Cob, Night Street Food in Istanbul

Istanbul Mosque Framed

Mosque Framed by the windows in Galata Tower

Istanbul Galata Tower HDR

Galata Tower, Istanbul

While we quite easily could have spent longer in Istanbul on our cheap holiday to Turkey we felt that 4 days was just enough time to see all the travel highlights. It was the perfect taster before the rest of our adventure travels through Turkey along the western coastline.

We just hope that we find the time in 2013 to explore deeper into the true heart of Turkey and hopefully experience more of this rich and diverse country that we initially knew so little about.

About the Author ()

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (83)

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  1. Beautiful photos, guys. I really must make it to Istanbul one day soon. It’s been at the top of my list for years and somehow I never make it there.
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..In photos: A lazy stroll around Caye CaulkerMy Profile

  2. The already dreamy city-scapes look even more surreal in your photos.
    Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..Best of the Trans-Americas Journey 2012 – Best HotelsMy Profile

  3. Wow! Thanks for the chance to reminisce about how beautiful Istanbul is. I went 2 years ago and your pictures helped me to relive my travels. Thanks!
    Natalie @ In Natalie’s Shoes recently posted..DIY Personalized Mug.. MaybeMy Profile

    • We were there nearly 1 year ago and our own photos made me remember so many good times! Going to start going back through the last 3 years of travel and editing all my favourite ones I haven’t shared yet :)

  4. Mosques and churches always seem to make great subjects in photos. These are no exception! Istanbul remains high on my bucket list :)
    Escaping Abroad recently posted..The Moment I Fell In Love with Scuba DivingMy Profile

  5. Larissa says:

    We, too, had done very little research about Istanbul, thinking it would simply be a stopover between the Middle East and Europe. But we really loved it! Spent 6 days there, and definitely want to go back. Thanks for the photo reminders!

    PS. We had our favorite sandwich of our RTW in Istanbul. YUMMY :)
    Larissa recently posted..Free things to do in Belgrade: One of Europe’s oldest citiesMy Profile

  6. I just want to say: yum, yum, yum, yum. yum!!
    wanderingeducators recently posted..Florida Culture for the Week of January 14, 2013 by Josh GarrickMy Profile

  7. Jenna says:

    Istanbul is a city I hear more and more about and is starting to creep to the top of my list. I also hear it is a great place to live. Nice mix of photos! I especially like the kebab street food photo–the man’s expression is great.
    Jenna recently posted..A Sneak Peek at the Monterey PeninsulaMy Profile

  8. Theodora says:

    Aw, you’re making me miss Istanbul now…
    Theodora recently posted..On Namche and AgeingMy Profile

  9. Jennifer says:

    Beautiful photos! We’ve only been to Istanbul on a long layover. We had 8 hours coming home from Jordan, so took the opportunity to grab a visa and explore the old city a bit. We really only had time for the Blue Mosque, the spice market, and the Grand Bazaar. We did eat corn on the cob from one of those stands though! We definitely need to go back.
    Jennifer recently posted..Circumnavigating Iceland: The Wild and Rugged East CoastMy Profile

  10. Vera says:

    Very cool pictures! I’ve been to Turkey, but not to Istanbul – yet! Keep hearing a lot of good stuff about it, though, also in terms of hipness and stylewise. Pretty sure it’s another big city that could win me over rather quickly:)
    Vera recently posted..The friendliness of the Thai people (& a hostel review)My Profile

  11. Pete says:

    A beautiful city indeed. If you’ll be back in Turkey this spring, make sure to drop us a line and come and visit :)
    Pete recently posted..64 Degrees NorthMy Profile

  12. Stunning photos! I’ve heard such amazing things about Istanbul – can’t wait to explore it some day!

    Kate xo

  13. Ali says:

    Istanbul became one of my favorite cities within minutes of arriving. Such a great place!
    Ali recently posted..How to Make a Travel BudgetMy Profile

  14. Delane says:

    I had a friend who told me to visit Turkey but I didn’t believe that I would like it until now!

    What great photos!!

    Thank you!

  15. Amanda says:

    Istanbul is one of those cities that I think it would be impossible to hate. It’s SO different from anywhere else in the world, and so alive! I can’t wait to go back sometime soon.
    Amanda recently posted..What the Fook is a Loony Dook?My Profile

  16. Kristy says:

    The picture of the mosque is so stunning! My friend told me that kebab taste better in Turkey. I wonder if that’s true.

  17. Salika Jay says:

    Beautiful photos and architecture! Istanbul is a place I’m yet to visit and I see why I should plan one. Kebab looks good :)
    Salika Jay recently posted..A Short Guide To MadridMy Profile

  18. Micki says:

    Cole, thanks for this. We’re planning to be in Istanbul later this year, and you’ve given us the perfect start on what do do and see. Beautiful photos!
    Micki recently posted..Six Quick Steps to Nailing the Cheapest FlightMy Profile

  19. Turkey is one of those place where I really want to visit in depth… I would love to spend at least 3 months there.
    Jade – OurOyster.com recently posted..Australia – North Stradbroke IslandMy Profile

  20. Stunning photos guys! I really need to visit Turkey again,it’s probably been over 15 years since I was there! And haven’t visited Istanbul yet!
    Jarmo @ Arctic Nomad recently posted..Top 5 Things to Do in EstorilMy Profile

  21. Cheryl says:

    Gorgeous photos. I hope to travel there for NYE celebrations! Can’t wait. =)
    Cheryl recently posted..Cheryl Howard … Does Ottawa!My Profile

  22. Wow, great pictures. I’ve never been to Turkey, but really want to go.

    The kebabs make my mouth water, I remember having one almost every day when I was in France. How is the food in Istanbul?
    Craig – ADayTrip.com recently posted..19 Free Things to Do in Providence, RIMy Profile

  23. I spent about 24 hours in Istanbul, and I was blown away. It was the first time I visited a city with a very different culture, different architecture, different food…. I loved it and I definitely want to return.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..The stupidest thing I did in 2012… and the photo to remember itMy Profile

  24. Laurel says:

    I haven’t been to Istanbul yet either, but I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Istanbul. Great photos and glad to hear that you enjoyed it!
    Laurel recently posted..Tembe Elephant Park: My TOP Travel Adventure of 2012My Profile

  25. Dave says:

    Was in Istanbul for only a few hours (layover) but did manage to see a few of the biggies – can’t wait to go back after seeing these photos!
    Dave recently posted..10 Travel Writing Tips When You’re Not TravelingMy Profile

  26. I went to Turkey this past year and was blown away at how my camera’s view finder was imprinted on my face after days out shooting! Gorgeous and pulsating – I came back with nearly 1000 pictures after less than 4 days in Istanbul!
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas recently posted..Visiting Estepa: More Than Just MantecadosMy Profile

  27. gabi klaf says:

    oh these photos are unreal. did you take these yourselves? they are stunning. the facet, the towers, the night vendor, wow. wow. truly makes this now on my bucket list too. oh god, so much world to see, so little time!
    gabi klaf recently posted..When You See A Wonder Of The World, Exhausted- Angkor Wat (Siem Reap, Cambodia) – Nomadic Family Travel Blog For Long Term Budget World Travel With KidsMy Profile

  28. Sam says:

    Nice photos as always, keep up the good work! Was wondering, what software do you use for your HDR processing?
    Sam recently posted..Whittier 26 Glacier Cruise with Phillips CruisesMy Profile

    • We have just started using Lightroom 4 and LOVE it! We have software called Photomatix Pro which is a plugin for Lightroom and works a treat for HDR processing. Definitely try it out.

  29. Truly amazing photos. You have done it again! Wow!
    Laura @Travelocafe recently posted..Best Western Hotel Lerdalshojden, Rattvik. Stunning Views & Cute DecorMy Profile

  30. Great photos! That street vendor pic is making me hungry
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..TBGB: Preventing Gender-Based Violence & Empowering Youth In TanzaniaMy Profile

  31. Beautiful. I really would like to go there. thanks for sharing and can’t wait to see more.
    Heidi Wagoner recently posted..10 Tips for Spanish Resident Visa Application – for the American TravelerMy Profile

  32. Beautiful photos, Cole! Istanbul is really an amazing city! Tip: a trip on Bosphorus is a must do in Istanbul!
    Izy Berry – The Wrong Way Home recently posted..Where I Want To GoMy Profile

  33. Arti says:

    Stunning captures as always Cole! I love the way the sky patterns in one of the pictures! And the architecture is superb. Have a lovely day :)
    Arti recently posted..Where to Stay in Kyoto: New Miyako HotelMy Profile

  34. Yvonne says:

    wow. amazing pictures! Have been to Istanbul before but it was just a business trip so I had no time to explore the city. But it’s on my bucket list!
    Yvonne recently posted..The BIG BANG Just Travelous Relaunch ContestMy Profile

  35. Kevin James says:

    Stunning pictures, Nice shot.. Kebab is one of my favorite street food in Istanbul.

  36. Kym Ciftci says:

    Your photos are simply stunning – çok guzel :-)
    Kym Ciftci recently posted..Weekly Photo Challenge – ForwardMy Profile

  37. Istanbul is really one of the world’s most exciting cities – with a fascinating blend of East meets West. Our recent story on “Turkish Delight” in Compass magazine covers some of Istanbul’s attractions – from soaking in a steamy hammam to feasting like a sultan. Glad you got to enjoy some of Istanbul! And your photos are gorgeous…
    Sand in My Suitcase recently posted..On Mallorca, Sleep in Everything From a Castle to a Farm “Finca”My Profile

  38. ardun says:

    Great HDR photos! I loved Istanbul and Turkey as a whole and was there for the ANZAC service this year too. Beautiful people and a beautiful country.
    ardun recently posted..Koza Cave HotelMy Profile

  39. Quinn says:

    I like to travel to Istanbul and I think that it is one of the best cities to visit in the world.

  40. Michael says:

    Istanbul is a wonderful place for photography subjects. I like your post-processing also. Well done
    Michael recently posted..Majestic Sardis: Capital of Ancient Lydia and a Church of RevelationMy Profile

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