1. Change your ticket
2. Try to get Turkish Airlines to secure you a room at one of the airport hotels
3. Get yourself a little trip to Istanbul.
But wait, in regards to the 3rd option, haven’t you heard about the social unrest in Turkey caused by the potential terrorist threats? Or that Turkey is a Muslim country and it is extremely unsafe for a solo female traveler? While these represent serious reasons towards a legitimate concern about traveling to Turkey, I am here to tell you:”Just chill”. It’s not as scary as it seems by far!
If you happen to be a solo woman traveling to Istanbul, you came to the right site. I totally understand your worries and concerns. Been there, done that.
I am a traveler. I love visiting new places, meet new people, interact with new cultures. I am also very audacious, a risk-taker. If I want it, I gotta have it, no matter if there is somebody by my side or not. Furthermore, when traveling I try to take the max from that trip. Thus, at the beginning, the 20h layover in Istanbul, pretty much scared me, but then I just transformed everything into a new learning experience. I must say that only after buying my tickets the really pressure began. Everybody (with the exception of a few friends) was advising me against going to Istanbul and ESPECIALLY staying there over night. For a moment, the fear of the unknown did control me. I even spent about 3 hours on the phone to change the damn itinerary. The difference in price I had to pay was pretty outrageous (the cost of a new ticket) and I decided to just follow my plans.
Once I arrived at the Atatürk Airport I was pleasantly surprised by the kindness of the airport employees. Their customer service is absolutely incredible and extremely helpful. There are information desks throughout the airport and all the agents are smiling, kind, and ready to help anyone in need. Shortly after passing the customs, I was sitting in a yellow cab admiring the beauty of the Sea of Marmara as we drove along. Yes, I took a taxi to the hotel, and yes, I did read a lot of online advice against taking one, for different reasons. Guess what? My trip to Sultan Ahmet was incredibly smooth, pleasant, calm, and friendly. The landscape totally got me and all the way from the Atatürk Airport to the hotel, I was in a reverie. Once I got to the hotel the Deluxe Golden Horn Hotel, I was again impressed by the politeness of the stuff and their professionalism. The check in was very quick and very soon I was enjoying the views of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Bosphorus from my amazingly decorated room.
The Deluxe Golden Horn Hotel is right in the center of Sultan Ahmet and very close to the Blue Mosque and Agia Sophia. It’s a traditional hotel, with a lot of Turkish decorative elements. I chose it because I wanted to feel the Turkish culture and of course to get to know it as much as I could in my 20h in Istanbul. The hotel also has an amazing terrace and restaurant that offers fantastic views of Istanbul. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I highly recommend it to anyone who is eager to visit this awesome city. The restaurant personnel is beyond welcoming and they make everyone feel like home.
Soon after I explored the hotel, I took my camera and headed to the Hagia Sophia, as this was my first and for most goal for my trip. It was a short walk to the magnificent museum (formerly an Orthodox church). My first impression when walking on the streets of Istanbul: it’s a very modern city and I wasn’t intimidated not even for one minute for being a solo female traveler.
Of course, Turkish people are pretty open and they will try to stop you and initiate all kinds of conversations, but it depends on your attitude and how you respond to this sort of interactions. One just have to use her common sense and judge each situation and person with caution.
Hagia Sophia surpassed all my expectations! It’s HUGE and its history is absolutely mind blowing. From Hagia Sophia I headed straight to the Blue Mosque as it is across the monumental church. The Blue Mosque is impressive through its architecture! I was again stunned by its size. That was the first time I was entering a mosque and I must say that the details, the atmosphere, the people were extremely peaceful and nice. The most striking thing that left me basically speechless was the prayers that one could hear throughout the city. While resting in the beautiful garden that links the Blue Mosque to Hagia Sophia, I witnessed one of the most incredible prayer performances I have ever seen or heard. The voice would start at the Blue Mosque and then continued in an echo to Hagia Sophia. It was like an orchestra that was bringing two different worlds together. I remember I was having goose bumps every time they would start those prayers. It’s very powerful and spectacular!!!
After spending about 4 hours at these amazing historical places I took a stroll along the streets and entered different colorful shops. Once again I was impressed by Turkish hospitality and good humor. For everything I bought, I was getting a little present, thus by the time I got back to my hotel, my hands were full of Turkish goodies.
Istanbul is a stunning city and of course 20 h is not enough. I certainly have to go back and stay for a couple of days.
I never felt in danger there! I never felt discriminated or intimidated. I loved the overall feel and cannot wait to go back.