Travel like a local.


Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque & Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey

Best things to do in Istanbul Turkey - Andrea Lemieux - The Blue Mosque at night by vedat zorluer on Pixabay

The Blue Mosque at night. Photo by vedat zorluer on Pixabay.

I’m really excited to interview Andrea Lemieux of The Quirky Cork about Istanbul, Turkey. Andrea’s tips for the best things to do in Istanbul are awesome because she came to Turkey for a job, then fell in love with their wine and transitioned into writing about Turkish wine full-time. Andrea loves the rich tapestry of native grapes in the country and has earned formal wine certifications along the way.

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Best things to do in Istanbul Turkey - Andrea Lemieux - Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya.

Istanbul, Turkey

We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out the Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau, the local visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests.

If you’d like to learn how to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points, check out my free 7-day email course.

Best things to do in Istanbul Turkey - Andrea Lemieux - Meal and wine at Wanaya

Meal and wine at Wanaya.

Getting around Istanbul

Andrea says there are two airports you can choose from when visiting Istanbul. If you are staying on the European side of the city then fly into Istanbul International Airport (IST). Or, if you plan to stay on the Asian side of the city you can fly into Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW). Both airports are about a 50-minute drive from Istanbul. Use our Expedia tool below to find flight, hotel, and rental car options.

Andrea says that most should not rent a car. Driving is not for the timid, and it can be challenging to find parking on the street. If you want to explore outside of Istanbul, she recommends getting a car from the old Ataturk airport since they’re usually open 24/7 and you’re already outside the city. Click here for the best rental car offers, visit Avis, Budget, or Hertz.

Public transportation is your best bet as Istanbul taxi cab drivers tend to be unreliable. Rideshare/taxi apps like BiTakis, InDrive and Uber are excellent if you want a private ride.

When you only need a car for a couple of hours, you can rent by the hour with Zipcar. Join now to get $25 loaded into your account.

Best things to do in Istanbul Turkey - Andrea Lemieux - Kiz Kulesi Maiden Tower by Ibrahim Uzun on Unsplash

Kiz Kulesi Maiden Tower. Photo by Ibrahim Uzun on Unsplash.

Places we talked about on the Istanbul, Turkey podcast

Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Andrea Lemieux about Istanbul, Turkey. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.

  • Red dots = best places to eat in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Green dots = best things to do in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Yellow dots = best places to stay in Istanbul, Turkey

Who is Andrea Lemieux?

A casual wine drinker for years, Andrea’s “come to wine” moment happened, paradoxically, in Turkey. Her journey began when she discovered that Turkey did make wine, that it could make very good wine, and that it had a rich tapestry of native grapes. Since this revelation, Andrea has devoted herself to learning about and proselytizing Turkish wine, while giving some love to other underappreciated wine countries and garnering a few formal wine certifications along the way.

She founded The Quirky Cork, a website devoted in large part to Turkish wines and also contributes to online publications such as The Vintner Project and Turquazz. In addition to writing about wine, Andrea gives regular wine tastings in Istanbul and offers services to help locals and visitors alike discover the delights of Turkish wine country!

Best things to do in Istanbul Turkey - Andrea Lemieux

Here are a few articles that she’s written about Turkey and its wines:

You can connect with Andrea on her website and on Twitter and Instagram. You can also order her book, “The Essential Guide to Turkish Wine,” from her site or our Amazon affiliate link.

We Travel There - Istanbul Turkey - Andrea Lemieux - podcast one sheet

Click here to download our one-page guide of Andrea’s tips for Istanbul.

Big thanks to today’s podcast partner – AwardWallet

This episode is brought to you, in part, by AwardWallet. Using airline miles and hotel points makes travel affordable, but keeping track of all of those loyalty programs can be a challenge. That’s why I use AwardWallet to track my miles and points balances, reservations, and special goodies like free hotel night certifications and airline companion passes.

Having everything in one easy-to-use dashboard helps ensure I don’t let any rewards expire and makes logging into my accounts super easy. Go to to start your free account.

Best things to do in Istanbul Turkey - Andrea Lemieux - Wine tasting at Solera

Wine tasting at Solera.

Stay tuned for our next episode

Best things to do in Mexico City Mexico - Alex Veka with local signListen to the next episode when Alex Veka of Vibe Adventures shares the best things to do in Mexico City, Mexico. In this episode, Alex and I talk about visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum, eating fried insects at Mercado San Juan, and exploring the Chapultepec Castle. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.

What’s your favorite part of Istanbul? Send us a Tweet, let us know in the comment section below, or continue the discussion in our Facebook group!

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Related episodes for Istanbul

To learn more about areas surrounding Istanbul, check out our episodes below:


  1. hank

    one thing that wasn’t mentioned was you can actually get a visa on arrival in Turkiye. You have to pay cash (bring the money with you because there is no ATM in the immigration hall) but it’s cheaper than online ($35 USD or 35 EUR, whichever you prefer) we elected for this on our trip in 2022

    • Comment by post author


      Hey Hank, thanks for sharing this tip. I think a lot of travelers get busy preparing for the trip and often forget about getting their Visa ahead of time. It’s good to know that this is an option, especially since it is cheaper than doing it online.

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