The Smart Girl’s Guide to Istanbul: A Photoessay

Literally and figuratively bridging the gap between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is one of the most exciting cities in the world. It has an overwhelming array of cultural sites of historic and religious significance, great shopping in traditional bazaars and modern shopping malls, fantastic nightlife, and a unique character enhanced by the Bosporus flowing through the middle of everything and the personality of Turks themselves. Turkish food and desserts are also amazing, so if you ever get bored of sightseeing you can find a relaxed café to hang out in and experiment with rich Mediterranean dishes and hearty kebabs of endless styles, or just inhale plate after plate of baklava (even though you know you shouldn’t).

While living in Istanbul for nine months, I found that I never got bored. There was always another old neighborhood to explore, always another immense mosque to gawk at, always another nightclub to throw down in, always another museum to wander around in, or always another house party where I would meet more friendly Turks and foreigners. And if that wasn’t enough, there are easy day trips to beaches on the Black Sea or islands in the Sea of Marmara where you can bicycle around and escape traffic. From Istanbul you can easily visit other parts of the country on your own or as part of a tour. Click here to read more.


Ferrying from one continent to another
Dockside neighborhood of Istinye
“Sorry, you’ll have to wait your turn”
Annual Tulip festival in Emirgan Park


Beautiful flowers everywhere


Smoking nargileh with my roommate Özgün


Dancing to crazy gypsy music at Araf


Delicious food everywhere!


This dessert shop was four stories tall and down the street from my job. Dangerous combination.


Aya Sofya, possibly the most impressive building in the world


Blue Mosque


Visiting night markets all around the city to keep the kitchen stocked


Simply delicious


Hanging lamps in the Grand Bazaar


Turkey is famous for its carpets. Ones like these take months to finish by hand


Beautiful stonework all over the city


Mosque floor


At Basilica Cistern, under the heart of the old city


Visiting the Eyüp Sultan graveyard




All photos by Neil Hilton