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Istanbul is one of the most unique cities not only on Turkey tours, but perhaps in all of Europe. Nowhere else is there such a blend of eastern and western culture on display, and there's a fulfilling experience lurking around seemingly every corner. Although Istanbul is home to many well-known landmarks, including the Galata Tower and Hagia Sophia, some of the best destinations are off the beaten path, including the small neighborhood of Beyoglu.
Ride the tram
Beyoglu has been a staple of Istanbul for centuries, and it still maintains remnants of a bygone era, especially in its historic red tram. The train runs along the famous Istikal Avenue, which is home to plenty of attractions worth visiting. Most notably, there is a wealth of unique local businesses ranging from boutiques and bookstores to art galleries and theaters. Hopping off the tram and walking will bring you through a bustling pedestrian center filled with live music - an experience that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression long after you've headed home.
Sample the local fare
As is the case with any destination, you need to try some of the local cuisines, and Beyoglu is among the best places in Istanbul to try some Turkish dishes. There is certainly no lack of restaurants and cafes spread throughout the neighborhood, but if you're looking for the best dining experience, most experts recommend Mikla Restaurant. Located on the top floors of the Marmara Pera hotel, the restaurant not only offers first class food, but it provides diners with stunning views of the Old City.
Aside from its lengthy history, Beyoglu may be best known for its many museums. There's something for everyone, whether you want to admire some of the best pieces of art from the Ottoman Empire or gaze upon artifacts from centuries past. A popular option is the Pera Palace Hotel. Built in the late 19th century, this hotel is still in service, but is somewhat of a living museum. In fact, many famous writers have stayed at the hotel, including Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie. In fact, Christie's room has been preserved as a museum. Rumor has it she wrote the novel "Murder on the Orient Express" while staying there.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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