Celebrity’s Global Insiders On: Istanbul, Turkey

IstanbulWith the understanding that knowledge is power, Celebrity teamed up with one of the world’s most influential travel brands, Travel + Leisure, to create a group of savvy travel and lifestyle experts who offer insights on everything from the destinations that Celebrity visits, to the modern luxury vacation experiences they provide. Celebrity’s Global Insiders uncover unique and memorable experiences in key destinations on all seven continents. 

In exotic Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, you could easily spend an entire day strolling through the Grand Bazaar, exploring the famous Blue Mosque, or wandering through the majestic Topkapi Palace to catch a glimpse of its gardens, libraries and 400-room harem. While all these sites are must-sees for anyone new to the culturally-rich city, our Global Insiders also recommend checking out the following:

MARC MURPHY CroppedMarc Murphy (Executive Chef and owner of Benchmarc Restaurants)

In between seeing the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, shopping the Grand Bazaar and cruising down the Bosphorus, you’ll hardly have time to eat, but the food in Istanbul should not be missed. For quick snacks between sights, munch on a Simit, the Turkish version of a bagel. End the day with a delicious meal at Balıkçı Sabahattin (housed in an Ottoman mansion near the Hagia Sophia) where you can choose from a variety of cold and hot tapas plus tons of fresh fish cooked to order.

Alicia Ng CroppedAlisa Ng (Founder of ShopLatitude.com)

I love to shop the quaint boutiques in the Bebek area in Istanbul. Wander from Lokum, a Byzantine era inspired local perfumerie, to Midnight Express’s boutique for the best curation of local design talent; their treasure trove of fine jewels next door is to die for. Also be sure to check out Simple Life for amazing Turkish home products, and then take a quick sojourn at Lucca for Turkish coffee and people watching.

Julia Dimon CroppedJulia Dimon (Travel columnist and television correspondent)

Bargaining or haggling is a tradition in Turkey and can be quite an enjoyable sport when you know how to do it. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is a shopper’s dream, jam-packed with unique and beautiful carpets, crafts and artwork. If you’re looking for a particular item, the first step is to get a sense of the market by visiting several shops and asking around to establish a baseline price of the item in question. Never look too interested in the item you want to buy. Play hard to get. When the vendor tells you the price of the item, be sure to counter offer (ideally less than you actually want to pay and a 1/2 or sometimes even ¼ of the shopkeeper’s price). If there is a language barrier, use a calculator to punch in the prices. Keep the exchange rate in mind and don’t haggle over a few dollars. Be fair when you haggle, have fun and enjoy your Turkish treasures.

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