free guide to istanbul

Istanbul’s Best Kept Secrets: Free Guide to Ancient Charms and Modern Delights

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Welcome to Istanbul – where Europe winks at Asia across the Bosphorus and every street corner whispers stories of empires past.

In this mesmerizing city where the minarets outline the skyline as intricately as lace, Wingman is your ultimate travel sidekick.

From audio tours narrated with the zest of a local to insider tips that unlock the city’s hidden gems, Wingman transforms your stroll through Istanbul into an epic adventure in history and culture.

Get ready to explore Istanbul not as a tourist, but as a true traveler!

Amsterdam Canal with Bike

CROSSROADOF CIVILIZATION, CULTURE, AND CHARISMA

Istanbul Trivia - Did You Know?

Istanbul is the only city in the world that spans two continents, Europe and Asia, divided by the bustling Bosphorus Strait. It’s also home to ancient relics like the Hagia Sophia, which has served as a cathedral, a mosque, and now a museum, showcasing nearly 1,500 years of history.

Top 3 wingman tours

Whether you’re wandering through ancient ruins, savoring local flavors, or dancing the night away, these handpicked tours promise unforgettable experiences in the heart of Turkey.

Ready to journey beyond the guidebook?

1001 Arabian Nights: Istanbul Never Sleeps

Istanbul at night is a spectacle not to be missed, and our 1001 Arabian Nights tour is your VIP pass to the city’s glittering nightlife.

Begin with sunset views from a rooftop bar that spins the city panorama around you, followed by a pulse-raising walk down the vibrant İstiklal Avenue.

Cap the night with live music at Ritim Club, and if you’re feeling adventurous, a traditional hookah session under the stars.

Are you ready to see why Istanbul claims to never sleep?

Sultan’s Table: Istanbul Culinary Adventure

Indulge in a feast fit for a sultan as we embark on a culinary journey through Istanbul’s sumptuous food scene.

From aromatic kebabs and lush mezes to the sweet allure of baklava, every bite is a piece of history, flavored with the essence of empires that have shaped this city.

Dive into colorful bazaars and quaint eateries where the spirit of the Ottoman kitchen lives on, promising not just a meal, but a cultural immersion.

Byzantine Monuments of Istanbul

Step back in time on the Byzantine Monuments tour and uncover the layers of history that Istanbul is built upon.

From ancient Greek settlers to Roman emperors and Ottoman sultans, this tour is a time machine with a view. You’ll explore age-old basilicas, secretive cisterns, and majestic palaces that tell tales of intrigue and splendor.

Ready to walk through the pages of history in a city that’s been the crossroads of civilizations?

tourist traps to avoid

in istanbul

We know your vacation time is precious, and nothing grinds gears like falling into a tourist trap. So, buckle up as Wingman navigates you away from the “tourist tax” and guides you through a trap-free travel experience with the following slide show…

Bosphorus Cruises—Beware of the Upsell

Not all Bosphorus cruises are created equal. Skip the overpriced packages with promises of golden sunsets and unlimited buffets. Instead, hop on a local ferry for a fraction of the cost. You’ll get the same stunning views without the tourist price tag. Enjoy the breeze and grab a çay (tea) as you float by Istanbul’s skyline.

Haggling at the Grand Bazaar

Walking into the Grand Bazaar unprepared is like entering a lion’s den wearing steak pants. Avoid high-pressure sales tactics by knowing the value of items you’re interested in. Start your bargaining at about half the asking price, always with a smile. Remember, it’s a dance, not a fight!

Golden Horn Photo Ops

Many vendors around the popular Golden Horn area offer photo ops with traditional costumes for a “small fee”. Instead of shelling out cash, seek out less conspicuous spots like the Galata Bridge or Balat district for authentic and free photo sessions against historic backdrops.

Dining Near Major Attractions

Restaurants immediately surrounding major attractions like Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace tend to have inflated prices with underwhelming flavors. Walk just a few blocks away to find better food at local haunts where Istanbullus dine. Try some real Turkish kebap or mezes in a side-street meyhane (tavern) where the locals cheer and the rakı flows.

hidden gems of istanbul

 

Walk with on the less known paths of Istanbul with Wingman, where ancient secrets and local haunts bring the real charm of the city to life. Join us to discover the hidden gems that make Istanbul truly magical!

Chora Church: A Byzantine Beauty

Get Lost in Enchantment

Wander through the twists and turns of the Labyrinth Park of Horta, one of Barcelona’s oldest gardens that feels more like a secret realm than a public park.
This historical gem is tucked away from the usual tourist trails, offering a tranquil escape with a touch of playful mystery.
Insider tip: Visit in the early morning to enjoy the art in serene solitude, and don’t miss the stunning Anastasis fresco in the parecclesion.
Coordinates: 41.0314° N, 28.9394° E

Basilica Cistern: Istanbul’s Subterranean Wonder

Step beneath the surface of Sultanahmet Square to discover the Basilica Cistern, a cavernous water reservoir dating back to Byzantine times. This underground palace, complete with Medusa head pillars and echoing water droplets, offers a chilling yet charming escape from Istanbul’s hustle.
Insider tip: Catch the occasional concerts held here to experience enchanting acoustics alongside the historical ambiance.
Coordinates: 41.0084° N, 28.9779° E

Hidden Courtyards of Çukurcuma

Stroll through the winding streets of Çukurcuma to discover hidden courtyards filled with antique shops and quaint cafes. This neighborhood is a treasure trove for vintage lovers and those seeking a quiet cup of Turkish coffee away from the city’s clamor.
Insider tip: Look for Café Zula for a cozy garden setting perfect for a mid-shopping break or a reflective moment with a book.
Coordinates: 41.0328° N, 28.9814° E

Secret Tea Gardens of Üsküdar

Cross the Bosphorus to the less-explored district of Üsküdar, where secret tea gardens offer tranquil views of the city skyline. Nestled within the lush greenery, these spots are favorite local retreats for sipping tea and watching the sun set behind the city.
Insider tip: Visit Çamlıca Hill’s tea gardens for a panoramic treat, and don’t forget to try the traditional Turkish gözleme (savory pancakes) available at nearby stands.
Coordinates: 41.0265° N, 29.0174° E

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Each city is a new chapter in your adventure book, filled with unique cultures, sights, and sounds for you. 

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Dive into diverse cultures with our expertly crafted tours designed to enlighten and entertain.

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culinary delights of istanbul

Get ready to unbutton your gastronomic belts, as Wingman takes you on a tantalizing tour through Barcelona’s best bites and sips.

From hidden tapas bars to bustling food markets, your taste buds are about to go on a joyride!

Karadeniz Pide ve Döner Salonu

This place is an institution in Istanbul for its authentic Turkish pide and döner. It offers a bustling, vibrant atmosphere that immerses you in local dining culture at very reasonable prices.

Insider Tip: For a taste of true Turkish comfort food, don’t miss their pide, often hailed as the pizza of Turkey. Come early for lunch to avoid the rush and enjoy a fresh, piping hot slice straight from the oven.

Coordinates: 41.0082° N, 28.9784° E

Balıkçı Sabahattin

Situated in the historic Sultanahmet district, this restaurant is a favorite among seafood lovers. Known for its fresh catch and traditional cooking methods, it offers a delightful dining experience reminiscent of a seaside escape.

Insider Tip: Reserve a table in the charming courtyard for dinner to enjoy their famed seafood under the stars. Their mezze platter is a must-try before indulging in the catch of the day.

Coordinates: 41.0053° N, 28.9814° E

 

Siirt Şeref Büryan Kebap Salonu

This eatery specializes in the lesser-known büryan kebap, providing a unique taste of Southeastern Turkish cuisine. It’s a hidden gem where locals go for hearty meals and a warm, inviting atmosphere.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss their büryan kebap, a pit-roasted lamb dish that is succulent and full of flavor. For a complete meal, pair it with their homemade ayran and a side of rice.

Coordinates: 41.0193° N, 28.9638° E

 

cultural insights of istanbul

Ready to dance the night away or lose yourself in awe-inspiring performances?

Discover Istanbul’s hottest venues, where the city’s heartbeat is set to the rhythm of cutting-edge sounds and captivating stage acts.

Babylon Bomonti

Nestled in the historic Bomonti Brewery, Babylon has emerged as a hub for innovative music and vibrant cultural exchanges.

Known for its eclectic mix of performances, it’s a must-visit for those looking to experience Istanbul’s contemporary music scene.

Insider Tip: Check out their lineup for live jazz nights or electronica events. Arrive early to snag a good spot, as it fills up quickly with music fans from around the world.

Coordinates: 41.0481° N, 28.9854° E

Festival Fever: Catch the Cultural Wave

Held annually in April, this festival lights up Istanbul’s cinemas with a showcase of global and Turkish films, drawing cinema buffs and glitterati alike.

It’s about appreciation and respect for the diverse cultural threads that weave this city together.

Insider Tip: Grab tickets early for international screenings and join the post-movie discussions with filmmakers—a cinephile’s dream!

Coordinates: 41.0086° N, 28.9700° E

 

Zorlu PSM

Zorlu Performing Arts Center (PSM) is the beating heart of Istanbul’s arts scene, offering everything from Broadway musicals to cutting-edge electronic music festivals. With its state-of-the-art sound and seating, Zorlu PSM is a premier destination for top-tier entertainment in the city.

Insider Tip: Explore the venue’s multi-stage setup by attending one of their multidisciplinary festivals that blend music, theatre, and dance. Book online to avoid last-minute ticket hassles.

Coordinates: 41.0672° N, 29.0116° E

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)

istanbul top sights

Hagia Sophia

Well-known Fact: Originally constructed as a cathedral, then converted into a mosque, and now operating as a museum, Hagia Sophia is a symbol of harmonious artistic and architectural achievement across Christian and Islamic worlds. Its massive dome and stunning mosaics have awed visitors for centuries.

Topkapi Palace

Well-known Fact: Serving as the administrative center and royal residence of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years, Topkapi Palace is now a museum showcasing imperial collections, including sacred Islamic relics, Ottoman jewelry, and royal artifacts.

Grand Bazaar

Well-known Fact: One of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, the Grand Bazaar features over 4,000 shops spread across 61 streets. It is famed for its jewelry, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, spices, and antique shops.

Bosphorus Strait

Well-known Fact: The Bosphorus Strait not only separates the European and Asian parts of Istanbul but also offers some of the city’s best views. A ferry ride across the Bosphorus is a must-do to experience the city’s dynamic skyline and waterfront palaces.

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque)

Well-known Fact: Known for its striking blue tile work surrounding its interior walls, the Blue Mosque was built during the early 17th century during the rule of Ahmed I. It remains a functioning mosque, drawing thousands of visitors and worshippers alike.

user testimonials

These aren’t just reviews; they’re passports to your next great adventure.

Wow, just wow! Felt like stepping back in time with every site we visited. If you’re into history, this is your jam

Cory from Australia

Teacher

The Sultan’s Table tour was delish from start to finish! Loved the authentic vibes and those secret recipe dishes. Total foodie heaven!

Amanda from Italy

CRAAAZY night out in Istanbul! The rooftop views were killer, and the club vibes were on point. Def recommend for a taste of the city’s nightlife!

Rebecca from Romania

Make Up Artist

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