Istanbul by itself is an enthralling tourist destination with Istanbul tourism ranking high in the list of places to visit in Turkey. With its spectacular architecture to flaunt, the monuments in Istanbul, offer a tourist a plethora of options for sightseeing in Istanbul.
With the Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, and Basilica being the most visited tourist attractions in Istanbul, one can experience and witness a number of offbeat things in Istanbul, breaking the monotony of Istanbul tourism. Here are 6 offbeat things you must do when you visit Istanbul:
1) Street Art Tour
Erbil Sivaslioglu is a passionate tour curator who insists and urges everyone to look at the street art from a different perspective. For Istanbul’s walls, shutters, sidewalks, old factories, white washed walls are artist’s canvases. It is more than just graffiti. It is a bright and colorful exhibition of murals. You aren’t really capturing the essence of Istanbul if this one doesn’t make it to your list of things to do in Istanbul.
2) Join the Dervishes at their Sama ritual
Istanbul tourism is incomplete without this. You can join or just watch the Dervishes for their Sama ritual, a form of meditation which is said to enable a person to seek truth, rise with divine love, lose themselves in God and then come back to Earth, as a more mature and peaceful person. Apart from Istanbul sightseeing, one must definitely observe this spiritual beauty blended with music and chant recitation.
3) Take a swim in Suada
Is swimming in between two continents, on top of a sea but in sea water in your bucket list? Then Suada is the place you want to be! This is a huge swimming pool constructed in the middle of Bosphorus. Free shuttle boat from Kurucesme, enjoy a swim in the sea water pool and then just laze around on the deck enjoying the spectacular view of Bosphorus. This gives a nice flavor of change to otherwise architecture dominated tourist destinations in Istanbul.
4) Visit a Hamam
Most of the hamams in the lavish hotels do not really give a tourist the real picture of a traditional Turkish hamam. Hamams have been a Turkish tradition for thousands of years, being a place both for socializing and cleansing. Hamams are separated by gender and one can transit through a number of different rooms with varying temperatures. Steam rooms, akin to saunas are also prevalent. One can even opt for an invigorating scrub by a paid attendant. This probably is one of the most unique attractions amongst things to do in Istanbul.
5) Watch the fishermen on Galata bridge
While it’s not a massive bridge to say the least, atleast a dozen of local people flock on the Galata Bridge with their long fishing rods aspiring to catch freshwater fish. With the nonchalance that lingers in the air, it is difficult to figure out if fishing is the sole purpose that brings the citizens to the bridge. People just seem to be happy to standing in a row on the bridge with their poles over the water. It is one of the fun light hearted tourist attractions in Istanbul you shouldn’t miss.
6) Mushroom Hunt and Picnic
You might have not witnessed anything quite like it. 15 kilometers away from the bustling city is Belgrade forest, which is a popular spot for nature and adventure lovers. Tour curator Jilber Barutcuyan along with his fellow companions host the hunt, where tourists hunt for specific species of mushrooms, taste them and enjoy an adventurous picnic in the middle of the forest.