Sadik Elgallal, December 4 2019

Istanbul Travel Guide

The saying "East meets West" has never been so true as when talking about Istanbul. The vibrant ancient capital of Turkey is the only city in the world to sit within two continents, Asia and Europe, and the effect that this has on the culture of Istanbul is apparent from the get-go. Istanbul, however, is not the current capital city of Turkey, much to everyone's disbelief, but it is the biggest in the country. It is a fantastic city to visit as there is so much to see and do. 

When to go?

Autumn or spring are the best times to go, with cooler weather than summer and less rainy days than the winter. It often snows in Istanbul in the winter, however, which makes for great photos if you don’t mind the cold weather. 

Getting around

Public transport is the easiest way to get around Istanbul, particularly in the day, as the traffic can be atrocious. I would highly recommend buying an Istanbulkart at a yellow ticket machine located in most subways, ferry stops, and tram stops. The card itself costs 6-7 TL and then you can top it up depending on how long you’ll be in Istanbul for. Where a standard tram ticket would normally be around 5 TL, with the Istanbulkart, you only pay 2.6 TL, which can mean you save a lot if you use public transport for everywhere you visit. Also, it’s worth noting that multiple people can use the same pass. 



The Blue Mosque, otherwise known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, sits next to the Hagia Sophia and is another popular spot on the tourist trail of Istanbul. It is known as one of the greatest buildings in the world, and is still a working mosque, so the dress code must be respected before entering. The intricacy of the architecture and design details make for some fantastic photos!

Entrance fee: None.

Best time to go: For opening time (9am).

Photo tip: Use the entrance of the mosque to frame your photo, and make sure to get there early so you beat the crowds.



The Galata Bridge goes over the Golden Horn in Istanbul and is popular with local fishermen who insist it is one of the best places to fish in the city. It also has some great perspectives over the city, particularly at sunset.

Getting there: Take the T1 tram to Karakӧy Istasyonu station or Eminӧnü station, which are at either end of the bridge.

Entrance fee: None.

Best time to go: In the afternoon/evening to watch the locals fishing and to catch sunset.

Photo tip: You can get some great shots of some of the mosques closeby and the Galata Tower from the bridge.




The 14th century Galata Tower stands high above the skyline of Istanbul and offers fantastic panoramic views over the city. It is one of the tallest and oldest towers in Istanbul, and a great stop to add to the itinerary. Climb up to the top, or shoot it from one of the many vantage points throughout the city.

Getting there: You can walk from Karakoy or Istiklal Street, just remember to wear comfortable shoes.

Entrance fee: 35 TL.

Best time to go: Sunset.

Photo tip: You can shoot the tower with an alleyway leading up to it from close-up or shoot it with a zoom lens from the Galata Bridge.



Any of the ferries or boat tours along the Golden Horn or Bosphorus offer fantastic views over the city and a great opportunity for photography. We took the boat from Karakoy to Balat and back, and the views were phenomenal.

Getting there: The boat from Karakoy to Balat is a good option if you are planning on visiting Balat anyway.

Entrance fee: 2.60 TL each way with the Istanbulkart.

Best time to go: Sunset!

Photo tip: Get a window seat!

If you need more recommendations or have any questions, reach out to me via the contact section on my website and I'll be able to help you!

Written by

Sadik Elgallal

Next What's In My Camera Bag?