Editor's Choice Travel Destination for 2023: Best Things to Do in Istanbul, Turkey (Restaurants, Attractions, Shopping, Destinations and More)

With the rising cost of living, many families face the challenge of sacrificing vacation time for work; that's why we've found the perfect vacation destination that will bring you into a breathtaking world, while providing the necessary amenities to continue working remotely.  

Our 2023 travel destination pick is Istanbul (Faith District), Turkey, and several fascinating surrounding regions.  

This is why we chose Istanbul's Faith District as a top travel destination for 2023:

-Beautiful architecture

-Incredible preservation of and accessibility to significant historical buildings and artifacts

-Close proximity to the Marmara sea, allowing for fresh air and a lovely view (this makes a big difference for anyone with breathing challenges!)

-Great wifi throughout the city.

-Many convenience stores for any everyday needs

-Low-cost flights to neighbouring cities

-Incredible hospitality as a staple of the city culture

-Unbelievable respect and care for well-fed stray cats and dogs that casually peruse the streets, just like the pedestrian humans!

Let's start with taking a look at our top choice hotel:

The Sultanhan Hotel 

This hotel has the best location you could ask for, situated walking distance from all the main attractions, such as the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia, Topkapi Palace, and others.  Guests can enjoy traditional regal-style Turkish decor in the beautiful lobby and rooms, and select rooms come with spacious terraces.  The prime location of this hotel allows for spectacular views from both, the room terraces, and the rooftop breakfast hall.  Imagine waking up to dine with a panoramic view of the sea, the iconic mosques, and the lovely cityscape of Istanbul's Faith district!

Now let's take a look at our favourite restaurant in Istanbul:


Located right across the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, chances are you will have a chance to stop by this charming establishment after visiting the two most popular Istanbul attractions. This restaurant is one of the few that you can go to over and over, while having a great time and not breaking the bank, either.  With a danceable playlist fuelling the upbeat and trendy atmosphere, they provide a number of tasty traditional and western food options, including fresh ezme, savoury casseroles, mouth-watering pizza, and more.  If you ask for the special clay cooked dish, you will get an incredible name-inspired fire show as they break the clay cooking pot right in front of you!  For those who like sheesha, this venue has decent sheesha available on the patio, as well.    

Favourite attractions:

-Erected in  360 AD, the Aya Sofia is a magnificent historical building that was once the largest in Europe.  Formerly a Greek Orthodox church, the Aya Sofia (Hagia Sophia) has presently been turned into a mosque.  

-The Blue Mosque

Following the conquering of Constantinople in the mid 1400s, Fatih Sultan Mehmet II ordered the construction of another magnificent structure, directly opposite the Aya Sofia,  This grand project would be the beautiful Blue Mosque.  It is known for its six stunning minarets, in comparison traditional mosques of the time that typically had only four.  

-Topkapi Palace

Who doesn't want to feel like a king or queen?  Step into the mesmerizing Topkapi palace and you'll feel the grandeur that homed a lineage of Sultans for years and years.  The spectacular golden rooms, numerous thrones, and expansive harem are enough to have you wandering the palace all day . There are even incredibly life-like dervish hosts, sculpted with immaculate detail in action-poses around the estate.  This will truly take you back in time, into the world of Turkey's past sultans!  

Historical fact: This beautiful piece of history had construction started in the 1460s and was completed in 1856. 

Location: This palace is just a few minutes' walk away from the Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque.

-Archeological Museum:

Given the fact that Istanbul was held by the Romans for about 1100 years before being conquered by Fatih Sultan Mehmet II, you can imagine the number of stunning historical Roman artifacts available for display at their archeological museum.  This museum is located right next to Topkapi palace, however, there is so much to see at the museum itself, if you have the time, we would recommend splitting your day's visit into two days to cover the two places.  There are endless halls lined with stunning sarcophoguses, currencies, and utensils from upto even 10,000 years ago!

-Basilica Cistern

Walking into this ancient Roman water-management system will feel like walking onto a movie set.  The magnificent sculptures and surreal look of the water under the cistern lighting, tohether, form a combination that you will remember for years to come.  This attraction should take under an hour to appreciate, and can be combined with a visit to the Aya Sofia, and/or Blue mosque, as well as a lunch, next door at Fuego!


Best Bazaar

Grand Bazaar vs Araasta Bazaar 

One of the main attractions you will hear about when you are getting ready for your trip to Turkey is the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul.  While the Grand Bazaar is truly a sight to behold, with its magical entranceways and neveryending corridors lined with dazzling boutiques, the Araasta Bazaar, is truly underrated alternative.  In comparing prices and selection of key souvenirs that can be found in both, the Araasta Bazaar outperformed the Grand Bazaar.  Both are a must-see, however, if you are getting ready to spend instead of browse, we recommend looking for rugs, tea sets, jewellery, and more, at the Araasta bazaar.  

Neighbouring Districts/Cities 

For History Buffs-

Sogut for the tomb of Erturugurl Ghazi

Konya for the tomb of Mowlana Rumi


For the tomb of Osman Ghazi and Orhan Ghazi


For the set of Dirilis Ertugrul and Kurulus Osman

For the landscape:

Capadoccia for the underground city and jaw-dropping caves from 2000 BC

Best Airport and Is it Worth Flying business Class? IST airport vs S Airport 

Istanbul has two airports and the IST one is far larger and comes with a cant-miss business class lounge.  The lounge is about 6 times the size of Pearson's Maple Leaf lounge, and offers a wide variety of traditional and western foods, desserts, and beverages.  There is even a self-playing grand piano to add to the ambience!  Let's not forget, you will probably be working while you are on vacation; that being said, the wifi is a great speed in the lounge, and you can easily spend hours working in comfort, remotely, while your kids are happily occupied with the video games.  If your partner wants to catch the game while you work away, there is a section with multiple TV screens with a number of different networks playing at the same time. With all this factored, including the luxury of being able to sleep lying down (and be readily catered to) while in the air, we would strongly recommend flying business class to Istanbul, especially if you are coming from a distance (e.g. from North America).

The Faith district in Istanbul offers a wonderful combination of historic attractions and modern conveniences that make it the perfect destination for your 2023 vacation!

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