You might think connecting sucks but it sure saves you a good chunk of money doing it.
Consider the pros, forget the cons and enjoy a second holiday place for free!
When flying internationally, most airlines have to stop somewhere en route to the final destination. This could mean a layover of an hour or so, but in some cases it could reach half a day, or maybe even overnight. If we have a bit of time, we always try to stay overnight, getting a good deal on a room.
Inside Haya Sophia
Why not choose a stopover somewhere that you’d love to explore? Did you know that with many itineraries, you can stopover in certain cities for a few days with little change to your budget? Check your multi flight options and take the opportunity to add an extra flight for less!
Paul and I recently returned from a short holiday in Europe (3 weeks). We had a week in Portugal, a week in Sweden and we chose a stopover to see Turkey without any extra cost. We ended up even getting a tour absolutely free! I need to confess that organised tours aren’t our thing and we rather take a few days to explore on your own, as there’s plenty to see in Istanbul.
First things first, yes, it sucks, but you need a Visa to visit. I suggest you do this online. I have tried both systems- airport and online. Unless you like lining up for each process at different queues (immigration point, passport processing, back to immigration) let your fingers do the walking and click and pay and line up once!
Any great city requires time and you don’t want to waste any when you only have a stopover in Istanbul! Use the Metro and tram systems- they have easy to read maps, are clean, constantly running and the trams have many stops all relatively close to each other. If you are here for a little while- get an electronic card to use as it is annoying to have to put tokens into the machine to issue a ticket, especially when there are limited options for using notes to but these tokens!
Istanbul is such a gem. You hear how it is the mix of cosmopolitan Europe with the intrigue of the east but only truly understand when you spend some time here. It’s a massive city rich with history and is split into three distinct areas. Most of the classic sites that are well known such as Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque are in the old city. Hagia Sofia is more famous but for some reason I prefer the Blue Mosque. This was completed in 1616 and is still fully functioning for prayer so you may need to time your visits between the two mosques, which are pretty close together.
If you’re a market and shopping lover, then be sure to explore the vast bazaars located on the edges around the old city. You have to see the Grand bizarre and Spice market. There are so many great bargains but just seeing all the spices and sweets on display, not to mention the great smells, you will forget about the distances you are walking…
When you do stop and realise it is time for a break, you must have a super sweet tea and a real “Turkish delight” from any number of great cafes. We tried a couple and and they were all good! If you are a coffee lover you should definitely try the Turkish brew! Make sure you get prepared for your next day of travel with a visit to a hamam, or Turkish bath to relax the weary back and tired legs.