An alternative tour guide to Istanbul

by Laurene Mondet
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If you have already visited all famous Turkish landmarks and want to get off the beaten trail, here are unusual things to do for a leading city break in Turkey.

You can also find our alternative tour guide to New York City.

Magic Ice Museum

If you want to escape the city’s heat during summer, this permanent ice museum is definitely worth a visit. The first of its kind in a warm climate, the museum features ice tunnels, ice sculptures and an ice inscription that explains the Viking visit to Istanbul in the 9th-Century. There, you can admire an entire Viking boat and house, an elk and even a Viking on your special heritage break in Turkey.

SAV Automobile Museum

If you are a classic car enthusiast or if you simply want to develop your understanding of the history and culture of automobiles, the Sabri Artam Vakfi Automobile Museum houses one of the largest collections of antique cars in Turkey. A total of over a hundred automobiles are on display in the five floors of the museum. The collection gathers a variety of different past automobile motor and body designs, sporting vehicles, exploration vehicles and even automobiles designed as works of art on your leading city break in Istanbul.

Marmara Taksim Spa

No visit to Turkey is complete without experiencing a traditional Turkish bath known as a hamam. The Marmara Taksim Spa encourages a complete spa experience for the body and mind and offers natural therapies and treatments like massages, facials, hydrotherapy, hand, foot and body treatments. After a stressful day, enjoy the best spa break in Istanbul to achieve complete relaxation.

Sarniç Restaurant

Set in an underground ancient Roman cistern and lit only by candlelight, Sarniç restaurant is a unique place to taste traditional delicacies. The numerous candles, lofty brick domes, stone pillars and the fire in the massive stone chimney supplies a very romantic atmosphere. The menu marries traditional French fare like beef bourguignon with standard Turkish grills to reward any a leading gastronomy break in Istanbul.

Yesilköy Market

If you have already visited the Grand Bazaar and are in search of a less frantic market experience, visit Yesilköy Market. This highly respected Wednesday market is known for its greener, upper class setting. You will find an array of high quality products in this well-organised place. Two thousand stalls, vibrant floral displays and scattered tea cafes combine to create something unheard of in Turkey – a relaxing market visit.

Ulus Park

Ulus Park, set on a steep hill with many stairs, has one of the most beautiful views of the city. It is a great place for a relaxing stroll. The place is often preferred by young lovers on their special romantic escape in Turkey. If you wish to enjoy a traditional Turkish coffee, check out any of the park’s cafes, many of which boast dazzling panoramas.


Europe’s largest aquarium has around 10,000 resident sea creatures including large tiger sharks, giant stingrays, piranhas and octopus, to name but a few. It also features its own rainforest, flooded forest and tropical sea zones. A moving walkway will take you through one of the longest underwater tunnels in the world. For the bravest, you have the opportunity to swim with some of the animals on your luxury nature holiday in Istanbul.


This open-air miniature park contains no less than 105 scale models, all 1/25th of the original Istanbul, Anatolian and Ottoman structures, which let you and your children discover the most famous landmarks of the city. The park also features a labyrinth and a playground, perfect for a special family break in Istanbul.

Where to stay?

Ottoman Hotel Imperial was built as a private school in the 19th century, and is now the ideal base for a break in Istanbul. Located in the heart of Sultanahmet, this luxury hotel is within walking distance of the city’s main attractions. With its exquisitely furnished guest rooms, renowned restaurants and bars, extensive guest services and in-house amenities, Ottoman Hotel Imperial will respond to your needs on you luxury city getaway in Turkey.

If you are planning a trip to England, have a look at our alternative tour guide to London.


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A destination for every age… - by Laurene Mondet