Aside from having a lovely name, Istanbul’s Golden Horn is also a great area to explore a bit off the tourist trail. Eyup Mosque and Pierre Loti Cafe both get their share of visitors, of course, but even these numbers pale in comparison to places like Taksim and Sultanahmet.
Apart from the neighborhoods themselves, the boat ride from Karakoy up the Golden Horn is one constant amazing view after another the entire way to Eyup. I get the feeling that the rest of Turkey might be similar given how good the Turkish food and warm hospitality are in the biggest city. Based on what I’ve heard from other travelers who have wandered through more of the country, there’s a lot of good stuff to explore from the nature opportunities on the Mediterranean coast and Lycian Trail at Dalaman in the West and the hiking and mountain climbing opportunities around Mt. Ararat in the far east of Turkey. with so much beauty and so many delicious things to eat, its sort of mind-boggling I’ve not explored more of the country already!
Anytime I’m feeling bored in Istanbul though (and how does that happen, even?) I know I can hop on the ferry with camera in hand and almost immediately be back in a happy frame of mind.
Ferries up the Golden Horn: one of the simple pleasures of Istanbul.
Quite a few of my stays in Istanbul were primarily while taking photos for GetYourGuide. They have quite a few tours in town, but my absolute favorite would be the Istanbul Dinner with a Local Family tour. The Bosphorus Cruise and Spice Bazaar you can figure out for yourself, but to me being able to have dinner with a bunch of locals in their home was an experience very worth the cost.