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With culinary influences extending from Central Asia clear through the Caucasus to the Mediterranean, the food in Turkey is justifiably world-famous. At the heart of the Sultanahmet district in Istanbul, however, you’re much more likely to find overpriced and under-spiced versions of Turkish favorites than anything else. For a more authentic and delicious experience, head a bit further afield to some of our favorite spots in town: Read more
Maybe it’s the markets selling exotic spices and flavorful tea, or maybe it’s the alluring juxtaposition of ancient mosques and modern architecture. And then there’s the cuisine, from Old World street fare or 21st-century takes on Mediterranean delights. Whatever the reason, it seems that these days the flights to Istanbul are packed with tourists ready to get full on food.
Future visitors will be delighted to hear that Istanbul has responded to its growing popularity by building more everything — more hotels, more restaurants, and more bars and shops. Best of all, many of these new options to rest your head and fill your belly come at a favorable price. Here are some of our favorite picks:
Cruising down the Bosphorus is one of the most popular tourist activities in Istanbul, but most people will pay way too much (50 Turkish lira/$40 or more) to sit on a crowded, privately owned boat for three hours without every really getting the chance to interact with local culture. The public Bosphorus ferries are a bit better, at 25 lira ($20) round-trip, and they’re of locals traveling to the outer areas of the city, but there is an even better option: the Golden Horn. This curved estuary that divides the historic Pera and Sultanahmet neighborhoods stretches over 7 kilometers inland from the Bosphorus, and was in historic times Istanbul’s primary harbor.
Relaxation takes form in all shapes and sizes. To some, an afternoon coffee with a pastry eases away the tension better than a full-body massage. To others, being pricked in the back with dozens of needles does the trick. From skin-eating fish to dives into icy lakes, here are some of the varied techniques you can seek out on your next travels.
Japan: Sake Bath
First practiced by Japanese geishas to decrease the appearance of age and skin spots, thousands of Japanese men and women continue to experience the healing effects of the rice wine’s kojic acids, which smooth and hydrate the skin. Sake also contains a healthy mix of ginger and pine extracts that’s proven to relax muscles (or is that just the alcohol talking?) and help breathing. Japan’s Yunessun Spa Resort, 50 miles southwest of Tokyo, invites guests to soak in their giant pool of sake — or try their red wine, coffee, or green tea baths — for an all-inclusive entry fee of ¥2,800 ($28).
After a year-long absence from Eurail’s Select Pass program, France officially returned to the network last month, becoming the 27th participating European country. (Other changes: Eurail has chosen to do away with passes that allow travel between three and five pre-selected countries, in lieu of a four-country pass only.) To celebrate, we’ve put together three wanderlust-worthy itineraries for taking advantage of the newly revamped program.
“Dizzy” is a word we often hear people use to describe colorful, chaotic, history-rich Istanbul. There’s something travelers seem to love about throwing themselves into the alluringly confusing city – and with new flight routes and relatively regular airfare sales, doing so has gotten easier and easier. In the midst of all the sensory overload, orient yourself with this by-the-numbers guide on affordable thrills that can be had for $5, $10, and $100: Read more
On vacation, we tend to keep different schedules. That’s why, at 1 a.m., with all the regular restaurants closed and the bar having stopped serving food, you may decide you’re ready for dinner number two. Offering unique insight into local culture, late-night eats can enhance your travel experience as much as they can satisfy your craving. For a few bucks, you can fill up on local dishes like tacos, oyster omelets, and crepes, and get a candid glimpse into a city’s after-hours culture. Every country has a specialty; here are the best bites served past midnight in cities all over the world. Read more
As much as we love travel, no one loves the red-tape-filled process of getting a new visa. Here are a few helpful tips for securing your travel documents in a few specific places around the world — namely, in East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Europe. We chose these areas because you’re more likely to cross a border while you’re traveling there, and/or because there are some new developments around visa laws in these countries. Our tips below (including a new multi-country visa program in East Africa) ought to make the process a little less cumbersome next time you embark on a multi-leg trip… Read more
As the count down to the New Year approaches, so does the party-planning pressure. Most major cities throw vast, crowded spectacles for the occasion, but if you’re not so keen on ringing in the New Year elbow-to-elbow with thousands of strangers, consider planning something a little offbeat this year… Read more
New York City flipped over the cronut – a sweet cross between a croissant and a donut created by pastry chef Dominique Ansel. But the Big Apple isn’t the only city that that has a signature sweet. (Or a series of signature sweets ; we remember when people in New York waited around the block for cupcakes, too.) Here’s a look at some other tasty treats that are satiating sweet tooths around the world.
When looking for an unusual brunch treat in Sydney, try the Dogg’s Breakfast at Reuben Hills in Darlinghurst. This hand-crafted ice-cream sandwich is served with salted caramel sauce. (The whole Reuben Hills menu follows suit, with some salty language.)
If you’re looking for a more traditional Australian treat, keep an eye out for lamingtons. The spongy yellow cake covered in coconut and chocolate is available at most bakeries and cafes.
Here we are in September, and though certain parts of Europe tend to cool down faster than others (Vienna is already in the low 60s, while Sicily is keeping things at a balmy 75 degrees) summer season has for the most part come and gone. But don’t let that end your fun – or derail a possible vacation. Between now and Thanksgiving, there’s a special window of opportunity for savvy travelers known as shoulder season.
Flights aren’t necessarily cheaper compared to the rest of the year, and yes, temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit (you may luck out weather-wise, but it’s never guaranteed), there is one sure benefit to traveling at this time of year: fewer tourists.
This in-between season offers a calmer, less hectic way to enjoy Europe’s traditionally touristy destinations like Rome and the Greek islands. With the dip in foot traffic comes shorter lines, greater flexibility in organizing tours, and easier access to in-demand restaurants and hotels – in short, a better vacation. Here, we offer suggestions for the activities you’ll want to add to your itineraries for a visit to Europe in the next month or two. Read more
From a traveler’s perspective, the idea of a trip to Damascus right now (and pretty much anywhere else in Syria) is clearly out of the question. With constant headlines about possible U.S. air strikes and uncertainty surrounding additional chemical weapons attacks on civilians, you’d have to be living under a rock not to be aware of the current situation. But what if your travel plans concern one of Syria’s neighboring countries? Read more
Iran doesn’t have the best reputation for welcoming foreign tourists, yet signs point to that changing – slowly. From 2004 to 2010 tourism to the country grew by 12.7 percent, and while most of these visits were for reasons of religious pilgrimage, a good number made the trip to see Iran’s ancient sites, to hike and ski in the Alborz mountains, and to paraglide (like these unlucky Slovak tourists who have just been released after charges of spying).
The case of the Slovak paragliders suggests that Iran still has a way to go if it wants to shake off foreign travelers’ negative perceptions of its touristic potential, but a brand new private train service may help. Read more
Found under the Eminönü district of Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern is a 6th century underground chamber that features 336 marble columns, vaulted ceilings, and arched doorways, all made without a mold – incredible when you consider that it was built in 532CE. This is the place where 80,000 cubic meters of water were stored for use in the nearby Great Palace and surrounding buildings. After part of the cistern was destroyed and covered by dense construction during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods, it was rediscovered in 1545. Since then, the location has been restored to its original condition – even though the Great Palace no longer stands. Read more
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