Romantic, Non-Cheesy Things To Do In Istanbul
Though not conventionally touted as a city of love, Istanbul is fast becoming a sought-after honeymooner’s destination. Not only does it have places of cultural and religious interest, but there’s also plenty of hidden attractions that could lead to an ideal romantic vacation. Still not convinced? Read on to know our list of the top romantic things to do in Turkey’s most popular city.
1. Take The Ferry Out To The Prince Islands
An archipelago of nine islands, just a short ferry ride from Istanbul, this is the ideal spot for a dreamy day trip from the city.
Imagine a sun-drenched island without the noise of blaring horns (cars are banned on the Prince Islands), where all you can hear are the soft hooves of horse carriages clip-clopping their way across town.
Take a carriage ride with your beloved as you admire the surrounding wooden Victorian cottages and untouched pine forests.
Stop by for lunch at any of the numerous seafood restaurants lining the street and wash it all down with some delicious raki. You can go to Buyukada (the main and biggest island in the archipelago), or, for added privacy, choose one of the smaller, quaint ones.
2. Go For A Couple’s Hammam Treatment
Historically relegated as a same-sex activity, you can now enjoy a traditional Turkish hammam experience with your other half. If the two of you are into massages, this one will truly take the cake.
Loosen up your muscles after a hard day of sightseeing, and cleanse your body and purify your skin from head to toe while holding hands with your loved one. Suleymaniye Hamami is one of the very few Turkish baths in the city to offer one for couples, so we recommend you make a reservation beforehand.
3. Sail Along The Bosphorus (Or Simply Sit On The Shore)
One of the most romantic activities in Istanbul, we’d suggest taking a sunset or night-time cruise along this waterway, which separates Europe from Asia. At sunset, you’ll see the sky changing colour while the bridges and monuments in the background light up.
Many private operators and hotels offer sunset or dinner cruises along the Bosphorus, so enquire around and choose the best one for you. Regardless, pop open a bottle of bubbly out on the sea and toast to your time together in this gorgeous city.
If you don’t want to splurge on a cruise (because, let’s face it, it’s not exactly cheap), you can instead choose to sit by one of the many benches lining the water and admire the city coming to life in the evening with your loved one.
To take it up a notch, eat and drink at one (or many) of the restaurants and bars set up around the Bebek area.
4. Walk Hand-In-Hand Along Sultanahmet
The Sultanahmet area is perhaps the most touristy part of Istanbul, but sometimes you find romance in the mundane and cliched too. If you’re both culture buffs, you’ll enjoy walking hand-in-hand along the area that houses the Hagia Sofia, Spice Market, and Grand Bazaar.
You’ll find it hard to avoid the allure of these attractions – just find a way to navigate the crowd and you should be fine – and the buzz in the area. Pick up some delicious street food around the Grand Bazaar and share it with your partner – there’s no love sincerer than the love of food, after all.
5. Eat A Meal At Maiden’s Tower
Speaking of food, if you truly want a personalised romantic experience, look no further than the Maiden’s Tower, also known as the Leander’s Tower, which was originally built by a king to protect his daughter from being bitten by a snake.
Lying on a small islet at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus, there is now a restaurant and café at the top of it, both affording spectacular views of the surrounding area.
6. View The City’s Twinkling Lights At Galata Tower
For the most stupendous, 360-degree views across the city, pay a visit to Galata Tower with your loved one. Built in 500AD, the 66-metre medieval tower is one of the city’s most treasured landmarks. Be prepared for a long queue, though, as lifts take their own time to come.
The wait is worth it, however, as the views from the top (encompassing the Bosphorus and the wide expanse of the city) are unlike any you’ll see elsewhere. Hold a moment of silence and savour the beauty of the city with your other half standing by your side.
7. See The Black Sea At Ağva
Want some time away from it all? Visit the resort town of Ağva, in Istanbul’s Şile district. Literally translating to “between the rivers”, it is set around the Black Sea, where the Göksu and Yeşilçay rivers meet. The town has a pristine beach and is a popular tourist destination for city-weary Istanbulites.
Check into one of the many hotels and resorts lining the beach and you’ll see a different side of Turkey. Couples can go swimming, jogging, fishing, and even paddle boarding around the area. If you enjoy nature and find romance in green, this is the place for you.
8. Explore The Basilica Cistern
Known as the ‘sunken palace’, the Basilica Cistern is an underground waterway that was originally designed to supply water to the royals of the Byzantine Palace but is now a tourist attraction.
You’ll hear soft classical music playing in the background as droplets of water fall softly from the ceiling, all heightening the romantic experience.
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