What to do in a capital so big with even more inhabitants than my own country? Where to start and what for sure not to miss? I have been traveling to Istanbul for a couple days now and first did the most common sightseeing things, like visiting Buyuk Valide Han. If you would be in Istanbul only a couple days then I would suggest to take a hop-on-hop-off bus to see as much as possible. In that case you can call yourself a touristanbul! LOL
But hey I’m travelling, I’m not on a holiday and therefore I like to get off the beaten path in Istanbul. That way I found out about Fener-Balat.
Most of the days when Im traveling I sleep until 9.30 in the morning, get up slowly, eat my breakfast while I’m on my phone and try to reply to all messages and keep up with my social media. Then I prepare to go out. Which means I regularly leave the place I’m staying around noon or even later and explore the city until it gets dark. Welcome to the life of a traveller! :) One of the days I was traveling to Istanbul I ended up doing a walking tour in Fener - Balat.
I stayed online during my trip to Istanbul by buying the best prepaid sim card with data in Tukey. I figured out which one that was after a little investigation. Surprisingly Turkey is not cheap if you want just a sim only prepaid sim card. But you know me I need to stay online while traveling and show you all my adventures straight away. I like when you guys travel with me.
Off the beaten path: Fener Balat Istanbul
This time I got inspired by pictures I found on Instagram. The amazing pictures of the coloured wooden houses of the Fener Balat Istanbul caught my eye and I decided to ask around how I could get there. I prefer to walk around at off the beaten track areas and get a taste of the real city life in an unknown city. I prepared for a walk of around 6km to get me to the coloured houses I found on Instagram. Using Google Maps, which you can easily use offline, you can hardly get lost. On Google Maps I put in Fener Balat so it was directed to this bohemian neighbourhood, but actually I wanted to find that particular photo spot. All the detours though were completely worth it as I ended up in very local areas where I caught a glimpse of the real life of Istanbul. Buying some lunch on local markets, peaking into a local butcher shop where they were slaughtering a pig and ending up on the rooftop of a mosque that was under construction, but where the view was exceptional.
I went to Istanbul in winter, but apart from being cold it was still doable. For more things to do in Istanbul in winter have a look here.
See all my adventures of this day in one of my first Snapchat videos ever.
A bit later than expected I finally ended up in the not yet famous Balat Istanbul area. As I obviously had no clue where to go I just walked around and hoped to spot the places I was looking for. It didn't take long to figure out I was the only tourist roaming the extremely steep streets of this bohemian neighbourhood. Laundry was hanging across the narrow streets to dry and most houses were made out of wood. It gave the area a great traditional feel. As I walked into dead end streets, walked up narrow dark staircase and took some unexpected turns I stumbled upon cool sceneries where old people were sitting outside playing cards in this and where kids playing football in the streets with a ball that we would probably not even give to our dogs.
So if you want to get off the beaten path in Istanbul, Balat is the perfect option! I really loved the laid-back lifestyle and the artistic feel. There are opening up some nice coffee places. In February 2017 I went back to this area as I attended the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul, read why this was life changing for me!