Lets start with what we know. Traveling in Turkey is hard. Next to India, it's the most "difficult" place to sojourn I have perhaps ever been. Istanbul, however, is like a city state - this isolated, quite different place from anywhere else in the country. Think London to England.
The real challenge in Istanbul is the volume of humans, as everyone sea to have also figured out just how awesome the city is. After all, it has been at the center of a major empire for most of the last several thousand years and today straddles the Bosphorus, sitting half in Europe and half in Asia.
From the Hagia Sofia (which was a church then a mosque then a church then a mosque then a museum to the Grand Bizarre, ancient underground Roman cisterns to a near new modern art museum, there are tons of must-sees and must dos, all with hours of lines that aren't really lines and droves of tourists and large tour groups. If not done well, you could spend most of your time standing around. Fortunately, we killed it. No lines, no fuss and massive savings. Hence the name of this blog. You want to WIN in Istanbul be able to say "BLAMMO" at the end of every victory? Follow these top tips:
-On your first day in the city visit Topkopi Palace first thing in the morning and buy a 3-day Muze Kart. With this card you save money and get to cut almost all the lines. When you're buying it also skip past the line. There is a Muze Kart sale window past the fuss of the crowds and there seemed to be nobody who caught on to this save for us. Spend the rest of day 1 at the Grand Bizarre.
-Finish day 1 on the Bosphorus. Save money by riding the local ferry called TurYok. $2 a ride!
-Start day two PROMPTLY at 9am by visiting the underground Roman cistern, which has long lines from 10am and no Muze Kary queue jump.
-Head IMMEDIATELY to the Hagia Sofia next door. Again go right to the front and flash your Muze Kart to save time. You should be inside by 9:45 - just beating the horrifying crush of people that emerges from 10am.
-Next walk directly over to the Blue Mosque and go directly inside. External views come next.
-After running yourself rampant all morning head straight up to a rooftop cafe overlooking the Blue Mosque and take in this view over a leisurely cup of tea.
-Take the afternoon off then get yourself all gussied up and take in cocktails, dinner and dancing in Taksim, Istanbul's heart of "cool."
-If you have more time visit Istanbul Modern, the region's most impressive modern art gallery. A good guidebook can also talk you through the rest of the museums, sites and day trips beyond the absolute "must-dos."
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