About Chris O
Lives in London
Since Aug 2007
Hi. I’m Chris, an American freelance creative living in London. I keep busy working as a blogger, photojournalist, community manager, consultant, curator and more. The opportunities and challenges keep getting bigger, better and more meaningful for me every year! I’m having so much fun. Favorite destinations are many and my list of must-see places to visit seems to get longer the more I travel! I’m a huge fan of Portugal, Italy, and Hawaii – to name but a few preferred repeat locations. And even though I’ve been based in London for years, it stills seems to yield myriad wonders.
Architectural Buildings, Religious Sites, Historic Sites, History Museums
Religious Sites, Landmarks/ Points of Interest
Flea/ Street Markets
Historic Sites, Observation Decks/ Towers
Landmarks/ Points of Interest
Dating from the early 1600s, the historic Sultan Ahmed Mosque is more commonly know as the Blue Mosque for the many blue tiles adorning its walls, as well as its giant blue stained glass windows and blue painted ceilings. You might want to do some neck limbering exercises before entering because you'll be looking up in awe the whole time you're here!
One time Greek Orthodox basilica, one time imperial mosque, this architectural marvel and cultural landmark is now a museum. When you go, keep an eye out for the “Viking graffiti” that was carved into the wooden rails of the top floor.
The largest of the many hundred ancient cisterns lying beneath the streets of modern Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern is one of the city's top historical attractions. While it's just as amazing to visit as any of the others, it's usually not nearly as crowded.
Get ready to be dazzled and amazed – not only by the array of jewels and artefacts from Topkapi's collection, but also by the panoramic views of the Bosphorus. The lavish seat of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, Topkapi Palace is a must for any first-time visitor to Istanbul!
Whether or not you want to partake in smoking some flavoured tobacco from the hubbly bubbly shisha pipes, you'll love the traditional tea and Turkish coffee here. Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresesi is an evocative spot to relax and unwind - popular with tourists and locals alike. Even walking down the covered passage from the bustling street into Corlulu's courtyard - with its myriad rooms decked out with all sorts of antiques and age old décor - is a delight for the senses.
Don't worry if you get a little lost while exploring the Grand Bazaar - with its dozens of covered streets, thousands of shops and hundreds of thousands of daily visitors, it can be a little overwhelming! The bazaar, also known as Kapali Caris, is really something to see though, offering an unparalled shopping experience brimming with vibrant culture and living history. So enjoy it; just be sure to keep an eye on your belongings and pay attention to the signage pointing to the different exits.
Affordable luxury is offered at this historic hamam situated next to the Grand Bazaar. Dating back to 1584, Cemberlitas Hamami is a truly authentic Turkish Bath. Booking an appointment here is a squeaky clean way to soak up ancient culture.
Istanbul's Spice Bazaar is a centuries-old foodie wonderland that's as exciting to visit as it is budget friendly and delectable! Whether you're foraging your way through this aromatic labyrinth of yum, shopping for gifts, or just taking it all in, it's without doubt a sight to behold (and to smell)!
You can't miss these gawdy boats rocking alongside the Eminonu Pier at the “Old City” side of Galata Bridge, and nor should you. And why exactly are the boats bobbing back and forth in steady rhythm? The cooks working in their kitchens are tossing Istanbul's favorite street food to the waiters working the tables on land, that's why! For a cheap and fun snack served in singular style, Eminonu's swinging boat restaurants are ace!
There's been some sort of bridge spanning the Golden Horn from “old” Eminonu to “new” Beyoglu since at least the 6th century, and today's pedestrian-friendly Galata Bridge is as much a link between ancient and modern as ever. It's still a hot spot for local fishermen too and a great vantage point for admiring the sunsets for which Istanbul is famous. Shutterbugs, this location is for you!
The 1,500-year-old Galata Tower is an enduring and iconic landmark of Istanbul, and despite the many modern towers and rooftop bars and restaurants, this medieval stone tower still offers some of the best views of the city, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.
Take the Beyoğlu Tünel funicular to spare your legs from the steep climb to Beyoğlu Square and then make time to explore this beautiful neighborhood, renowned for its many restaurants and a buzzing nightlife.
Located atop the roof of the Marmara Pera Hotel, Mikla Restaurant offers upscale and stylish dining with a menu of contempory dishes based on traditional Turkish cuisine. Mikla is also home to an excellent al fresco bar where, come evening, guests get to enjoy one of the most spectacular shows in town: sunset over the Golden Horn.
There's no better place to get a sense of this massive city's diverse and cosmopolitan makeup than this short cobblestoned and pedestrianized street. It's hardly a bad option either for a quick bite, spot of shopping and top quality people watching (by the throngs)!
The cultural and social heart of Istanbul, Taksim Square is the place to go for any variety of local action. From major festivities such as New Year's Eve celebrations to some of the city's most popular restaurants, shops and nightspots, Taksim Square is the go-to hub for many an Istanbul native … and probably the easiest place in town from which to hail a cab!
At some point during your stay in Istanbul you must hit the water for some sort of cruise on the Bosphorus. Sehir Hatlari's cruises are an especially picturesque and affordable way to begin getting a sense of just how gorgeous (and expansive) this age-old city is. The “Full Bosphorus Cruise” from Eminonu to Anadolu Kavagi is ideal for seeing a good stretch of Istanbul as well as much of the Bosphorus, and includes time to explore the 15th-century Yoros Castle (an uphill but easy hike) on the Asian side of town; to admire the views of the Black Sea from there; and to have a seafood lunch near the base of the castle or on the waterfront.