If you will are visiting Istanbul this week, you may have already noticed that it is not a regular week. You may have noticed that the banks are closed, in fact if you were already here yesterday, you would have noticed that many restaurants and shops were also closed -unless you went a mall. That is because yesterday was the first day of the Eid / Bayram, and this entire week is an official and national holiday in the entire country.
As it is a quite long holiday week (10 days!), many residents of the city have already left for abroad for vacation or another city to visit relatives. Hence, the city of 13 million people is quite empty. This is both good and bad for you. Good in the sense that you can seriously seize the benefits of the city without being hoarded by the crowd. Bad in the sense that you will not see the actual daily commotion of the city life.
If it is your first time in the city, have a look at the following guide: “Your First Time in Istanbul“. There are pretty useful day notes in there that will help you shape up your mind. Be ware though some of the monumental places and historical sights may be closed on some days of the Bayram. Grand Bazaar will for instance be definitely closed…
Some restaurants might be closed on the first day; but they will be open for sure in the following days. Turks are very service-oriented people; you are not at all likely to be left out on your open with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Residents who will have stayed behind will also want to make most of the city and as such they will be going around to places as well.
If it is your second, third or more time in Istanbul, then have a look the following niche ideas. You might find something useful there that you had not thought of before: “Best of free things to do”
And, do definitely go strolling around the city to make discoveries, which even the locals may have not made before… “Strolling through“.
[Image myself from Binbir Direk Sarnıcı / Cistern]