Istanbul is one of the prime destinations for business travel, as evident by the increasing financial investments in its economy. Furthermore, those in the hospitality sector will find plenty of opportunities in the city, given its thriving tourism industry. When coming here on business, take advantage of the opportunity to explore and discover what the city can offer. Below, check out some tips on where to go in Istanbul when travelling in the hospitality business.
Climb the Galata Tower
When travelling to Istanbul in a hospitality business, it’s worth visiting the city’s top attractions, such as the Galata Tower. At 67 metres tall, you will find the watchtower dominating central Istanbul. It dates back to the Byzantine era and has undergone several renovations since. As one of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks, the Galata Tower is one of the best attractions to see in the city.
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The Galata Tower reopened in 2021 after being shut for several months due to renovation work. It now has a new and improved museum featuring different exhibits. However, most visitors don’t come here to the museum. Instead, they come here to admire the city’s panoramic views from its observation terrace on the eighth floor. The observation deck opens to incredible city views, including the Bosporus Strait, Golden Horn, and other landmarks of Istanbul.
After admiring the views and exploring the museum, head to the tower’s restaurant to enjoy some delicious meals. The restaurant is on the floor below the observation deck. As one of the most popular attractions in Istanbul, the Galata Tower can get very crowded, so come here as early as possible.
Wander the Spice Bazaar
When going around Istanbul, take the time to visit places where you can learn more about the local food and culture, such as the Spice Bazaar. The vast market has hundreds of stalls selling all kinds of spices, herbs, nuts, and local specialities, including Turkish delights. You will find many great itineraries and tours in Turkey, which include a visit to local places and bazaars, ideal for those who want to know more about the country beyond its tourist sights.
The spice bazaar features an L-shaped architectural style with numerous rooms and chambers. All shops have small domes with arched entrances. While it’s not as big as the Grand Bazaar, exploring the Spice Bazaar could take around an hour or two. As you walk through the narrow streets of the Spice Bazaar, you’ll find big and small shops selling spices, nuts, coffee, etc.
Feel free to buy some products, but don’t forget to bargain before paying. As one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist sights, the bazaar can get busy and ridiculously crowded at certain times. It’s worth booking a guided tour to avoid getting lost and confused in its narrow alleyways.
If you’re looking for a place to base yourself in Istanbul, consider staying in Sultanahmet. It’s a historical area in the city and perfect for a short stay since you’d be able to visit many famous attractions from here. Most of the hotels in Sultanahmet are within walking distance of famous attractions like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, etc.
Sultanahmet District was named after Sultan Ahmet I, who also commissioned the Blue Mosque, one of the attractions in the area. Also called the Old City, the Sultanahmet District has many great hotels that cater to all travellers, including those who come here for business. Since it’s close to the top attractions in the city, staying here means you’ll have plenty to explore during your downtime.
Once your business dealings are over, you could find yourself walking through the ancient city walls, shopping at the historic bazaars, soaking up the views of Ottoman mosques, enjoying a beer at a rooftop bar, or relaxing in a Turkish bath.
The Hagia Sophia
Istanbul is one of the most cultural cities for international meetings, making it perfect for business travel. Those seeking cultural experiences while on a business trip here should visit the Aya Sofya or Hagia Sophia mosque. Built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537, the Hagia Sophia mosque is one of the world’s most fascinating religious attractions. Take the time to wander around the historic building and learn about its captivating history.
The Hagia Sophia was originally a church. But when the Ottoman Empire came to invade Istanbul, it became a mosque. Since then, it was called “Aya Sofya.” The mosque’s interiors look fascinating, with its colourful marble and ornamental stone inlays discovered from other ancient buildings. You will come across many fascinating things as you enter Hagia Sophia. First, the grand dome, the structure’s most prominent feature, looks beautiful inside out.
Visitors will find a unique fusion of Christian and Muslim artworks inside the Aya Sofya. At the ground level, Islamic-inspired art pieces dominate the building. You will also see the mihrab, a beautiful marble structure facing Mecca. Take note that the Aya Sofya is a working mosque, which means visitors can only visit outside prayer hours.
Another great neighbourhood to base yourself in Istanbul is Cihangir, an area just across the Galata Tower and only within walking distance of Taksim Square. Here, you’ll find a wide range of accommodations, including options for long-term stays, making Cihangir a popular place to stay for digital nomads and those travelling on business in Istanbul.
Aside from its wide range of accommodation options, Cihangir is also renowned for its antique shops and cafes. The neighbourhood is home to fantastic art galleries and museums. You will also find traditional Turkish baths, a perfect spot to relax after a day of doing business in Istanbul.
The vibe in Cihangir is perfect for young travellers and backpackers. Despite being full of tourists, the neighbourhood still exudes a local and authentic feel. Some of the restaurants that you’ll find here are full of locals. One of the best things about staying here is it’s well-connected by public transport, allowing you to get around Istanbul easily as you attend to your business dealings.