Muezzins. One of the most magical and beautiful call of prayers I’ve ever heard took place between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia (which, although no longer a mosque, still keeps a prayer room) where one muezzin would sing out a part of a prayer and the other muezzin would respond from the other minaret. If you are anywhere in the sqaure around prayer time, you’ll notice how people just sit around on the benches listening to this magical performance of the two muezzins.
Shopping. Istanbul is a heaven for shopping. From clothes to home decor, from food to spices and everything in between. It is also a heaven if you want to shop for authentic pieces as well as all-kinds-of-fakes. One thing for sure- do you research where to find authentic pieces and be careful when suggested to invest into an “original” Coco Chanel…:) Arasta Bazaar, The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar are probably the three main places you’ll visit when searching for souvenirs and whatnot, but don’t forget that a more authentic shopping eperience you are much more likely to have at the markets on the Asian side of the city- especially go to Kadikoy and Üsküdar districts.
Mosques. Go and see mosques. It is an absolute must. They are not only houses of prayers (which any civilized person should respect) but also a true masterpiece of great Ottoman architecture. Go inside, sit down and marvel at them (insider tip- most of the mosques have people, sort of guides, inside that can answer all your questions about the mosque or about islam. Don’t be ignorant and ask them to explain things, you would be surprised how many false truths you knew). Go and see Aya Sofya, the Blue Mosque, the Little Aya Sofya, Suleymaniye Mosque and Ortaköy Mosque.
The Galata bridge and Galata district. Istanbul is not just about historical monuments and stunning mosques. Once you leave Sultanahmet district and walk on the Galata bridge to head to the northern part of the city centre, you will be overwhelmed by the skyline in front of your eyes in any direction you turn. What makes this bridge very characteristic though, is the line of fish restaurants spreaded along its entirety.
Once in the Galata district, it feels like being in a town inside the town. Steep paved streets (bring comfortable shoes!), live music, the exclusive Galatasaray University and Istiklal Caddesi, home to a massive number of fashion shops. Feeling nostalgic? An old fashioned tram will bring you straight to Taksim square, the capital of Istanbul’s nightlife.