Istanbul’s popularity just a few years ago

Tables, they turn sometimes!


Here’s a post we shared in 2013. Only 4 years later, Istanbul has become far less of a tourist destination, especially for the western traveler. The reasons are obvious but we do hope that things improve in 2017.

Hope you enjoy the read.

In the past day Istanbul has placed number one and number two in two very different surveys. One of them is rather encouraging and worth celebrating. The other is quite, for lack of better terminology, the opposite.

Let’s start with the good news. According to European Globetrotters, Istanbul is the best place to travel in Europe. For most of you that have already visited Istanbul, this won’t come as much of a surprise, but it is a prestigious title nonetheless. Being the number one destination in Europe means beating out traditional powerhouses Rome, London, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona. Well-known cities that attract people from all over the world for their varying degree of historical importance, romantic qualities and nightlife shenanigans. Is Istanbul moving back to its glory days? To its pre-Istanbul days? Back when it was known as Constantinople the city was so important, so established, so prosperous that people were like to call it the center of the world, nature’s own capital. It was a city at a crossroads, travelers going from East to West used it as a stopover, quite often falling so enraptured that parting with it required leaving a piece of their soul behind as well.


The conclusion presented by European Globetrotters shouldn’t come as a surprise. Of course you’re going to say that we’re a bit biased. And our response is, ‘yes, we are’. How’s that for a rebuttal? I know it’s an amazing one and doesn’t require a followup explanation, but I’m going to go ahead and offer a few arguments in support of this finding anyways. Number one, history. There’s TONS of it here. keyword: istanbul tops

It was the hub of the Eastern Roman Empire, the center of Christianity, the city that propelled the Ottoman Empire to greatness.

Relics, churches, mosques, museums and artifacts from those time periods litter modern-day Istanbul. Intertwine history that dates to before Christ with current diversity and Istanbul’s draw becomes greater still. Once you get out of tourist areas – The Other Tour is the best option for that, once again there is just the slightest amount of bias there =) – you truly begin to understand this. In some areas of the city you will feel like you’re in Hollywood – short skirts, English, and fancy cars the common theme. Within a matter of minutes you find yourself in neighborhoods where the vast majority of houses aren’t legal, though they boast views that would bring the Galata Tower to its knees (unfairly said to be the best view of the city). Go out a bit further and veils and burkas are the most prevalent garment. English is non-existent. The Western world seems to have had no influence. The contrast is astounding, impressive, worthy of making Istanbul number one.

istanbul tops the list 2. istanbul tops

Istanbul isn’t just a city where East meets West (though that’s more than any other city can say). It is where traditionalism meets modernization. Where conservative thought meets western ideals. Where old fashioned, narghile cafes meet progressive, stylish coffee houses. Where futuristic architecture doesn’t just meet but literally molds with 4th century design. Where the Whirling Dervishes meet the Harlem Shake. Where ayran meets the milk shake. Where we all might meet the earthquake (there’s supposed to be a big one, not that that is a draw for tourists). Istanbul is sure to keep you entertained for as long as you plan on staying. Maybe you’ll be like me and succumb to its appeal, become so captivated by its mysterious allure and enchanting nature that any thought of leaving it will dissipate. And then reports like this one won’t surprise you.keyword: istanbul tops

Now it’s time for the not so good news (though maybe it comes with a silver lining). If you’ve followed this website for long, you will know that our main criticism of Istanbul is most often its traffic. Because the traffic sucks. So when I saw that Istanbul is the world’s second worst city in traffic congestion I was literally dumbstruck that it wasn’t the first (that position belongs to Moscow). Travel times in Istanbul take approximately 55% longer than they should. During morning rush hours the congestion rate in Istanbul is 80%, during evening hours that number jumps to a staggering 125%. keyword: istanbul tops

On average, Istanbulites lose 118 hours of their lives (this isn’t quite how the study worded it) to traffic.

So, why might there be a silver lining here? Simply because it is increased incentive to start making some changes. The city has already pledged millions of dollars to infrastructure improvements (in large part due to Istanbul’s big expectations of 2023) and this might ensure that those projects come sooner rather than later. And in the meantime, we will enjoy watching when Istanbul tops many others lists.keyword: istanbul tops

Given all of the tourists arriving here in higher and higher numbers, I surely hope that those improvements entertain us with their presence rather quickly.yword: istanbul tops

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