It really is the cauldron of cultural character that everyone tells you! Nothing here will disappoint your senses, and if you are anything like me you will absolutely marvel at every turn you take.

It’s quiet, it’s busy, it’s new and it’s old, it’s colourful and it’s plain; Istanbul is everything and more than any other city I have ever visited. And above all it is a photographers dream!

The real gem for me was hiring Monica, a local walking guide. Her fountain of knowledge and confidence to take us around to places I would never have discovered in a million year was priceless. I cannot recommend this enough, and I want a private guide in every city I visit from now on.

Day one was the real Istanbul for me, walking around with Monica and experiencing the everyday life there. I absolutely loved the Galata area where we started out and if we go back, this is the area we will be staying in! It is quiet and offers endless potential for exploring. There are pretty, trendy, new and old little café’s and shops, fabulous roof tops and the architecture is an overwhelming mix of trendy and derelict. One minute you are on a street with gorgeous new apartments and the next minute you are peeking through the windows into old quirky workshops and admiring the details of historic buildings.

The library here is fabulous (and offers perfect public toilets!) and the original English vault in the middle is a true piece of history.

The markets, the mosques, the food – brilliant food, that I would never had tried without Monica!

The touristy Istanbul is still historic and charming, but it isn’t the part that will touch your heart.

Topkapi Palace is a must, and you can spend hours just walking around and being overwhelmed by the scope and architectural beauty of this magnificent Palace. It is however hard to escape the fact that it is swamped in tourists snapping selfies, and it can all feel a little bit disrespectful to this splendid place, stooped in history and immaculately kept.

I would love to go back to Istanbul in the future. I would love to go back and do more pictures, I didn’t even know I had a tiny little street photographer inside screaming to get out...

I will say this though, if you are not willing to go with an entirely open mind, then don’t go at all! But I do hope you go x

You can find Monica’s guide details here

And if you are looking for accommodation in Galata have a look at these apatments

PS: These are nothing but quick personal holiday snaps. I had a few kids free days in Istanbul because my husband was working out there, and I came along as a tourist, but I thought others might enjoy them. I take huge pleasure in photographing personal projects like this (no pressure, no rules, no expectations), and I learn loads along the way.