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Old 06-19-2014, 12:42 PM
 
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I will be visiting these two cities soon, plus Cappadoccia, Turkey.
Which city has more to see? Currently the plan is to spend (almost) three full days in Rome, and 4 days in Istanbul, plus 2 days in Cappadoccia. (I have been to Venice, Florence etc previously, but not Rome).

I've heard mixed stories about Rome. Put Vatican city aside, some say you can pretty much see everything in one day because everything is close by, others say it needs a whole week and will still find it exciting.

Most people seem to rave about Istanbul.

Any recommendations as to how to spend the time in each city? I will stay near Termini station in Rome and Tasim Square in Istanbul.
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Old 06-19-2014, 02:52 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
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I would agree that if you have already seen Venice, Florence, etc., you will be less interested in Rome than a first time visitor. Istanbul deserves four days. Remember - there's a European side and an Asian side. It's like two cities.

If you are traveling during the high season (summer), I might have even shortened the Rome trip down to 2 days. The crowds make me crazy, and the heat will be miserable.

I envy you going to Cappadoccia.
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Old 06-19-2014, 02:56 PM
 
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I am going towards the end of Sept to avoid both the crowd and the heat.

If I find Rome to be less interesting than expected, any recommendation regarding day trips. Is Pompei worth it?-3 hours one way. Somewhere closer (under 2 hours) would be ideal.
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Old 06-19-2014, 03:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
I will be visiting these two cities soon, plus Cappadoccia, Turkey.
Which city has more to see? Currently the plan is to spend (almost) three full days in Rome, and 4 days in Istanbul, plus 2 days in Cappadoccia. (I have been to Venice, Florence etc previously, but not Rome).

I've heard mixed stories about Rome. Put Vatican city aside, some say you can pretty much see everything in one day because everything is close by, others say it needs a whole week and will still find it exciting.

Most people seem to rave about Istanbul.

Any recommendations as to how to spend the time in each city? I will stay near Termini station in Rome and Tasim Square in Istanbul.
I don't think you can see much of Rome in one day. But it depends on your interests. You need at least 2-3 days at minimum.

There are two major areas to focus on in a short visit: the history of Imperial Rome (e.g. Roman Forums); and St. Peterís Basilica and the Vatican Museums.

The Galleria Borghese is also a must see museum (at least half-day). Plus you need at least one FULL day to visit the Roman Forums and Colosseum.
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Old 06-19-2014, 05:07 PM
 
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Ask yourself what you really want to see in Rome, and then decide. Personally I think seeing the Vatican is worth a day. There is another day seeing the Coliseum, the Pantheon (do NOT miss), and the Palatine Hill. If you want to see more ancient or less ancient things you could easily spend another day.

If you want non-big city things- you can see Pompeii and then continue on to Sorrento for a day or so. Villa d'Este and Hadrian's villa are not too far from Rome and worth a trip.
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:45 PM
 
Location: Dublin, CA
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I've been to Rome many times; Istanbul once. I'd return to Istanbul any day.Istanbul and Turkey is one of the greatest places I've been too.
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Old 06-20-2014, 05:54 AM
 
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Rome and Istanbul. Hmm.

They are quite different cities. Rome is beloved. Istanbul has its share of admirers. Istanbul has the Bosphorus, while Rome is landlocked. Rome has much better food, but Istanbul has some decent restaurants and Turkish grills. Italian ice cream is much better than Turkish ice cream. Istanbul has better seafood than Rome. Rome is easier to navigate and easier to absorb. Istanbul is more difficult to get around. Rome, on the ground, is much more attractive and a prettier city to walk around. Istanbul has charming decay but is more attractive from a distance due to the setting on the various hills around the Bosphorus.

Rome is much richer, culturally, than Istanbul due to the museums, churches and baroque city planning. Istanbul has a different cultural heritage that's still very impressive in its own way but which will feel more different and possibly alien. The Ottoman/Islamic world never prioritized the great traditions of city building that the West did so their cities are different and outside the mosques you won't find the richness of public architecture you find in Italy and elsewhere in the West.

The culture in both cities are different. Rome is Western, European, Catholic and ancient. You really feel the history of Rome stretching back 2,000 years. Istanbul is not culturally European despite what some people may claim. It will feel very Muslim to you even if it is a secular city by the standards of the Muslim world. Despite the age of the Hagia Sophia, almost everything else save a few remaining churches in Istanbul dates from the post-Ottoman conquest and there's very little surviving from the Byzantine days, so it's difficult to get a sense of who the Byzantines were whereas in Rome the influence of Ancient Rome is just about everywhere you look.

Istanbul is a crowded city. In certain areas it will feel suffocatingly crowded if you're not used to it. Rome can be dense but not on the level of Istanbul.

As with all travel experiences it will come down to what you're looking for and what experiences you relish.

Having traveled frequently through Rome/Italy and taken three long trips to Turkey, which included several days in Istanbul on each trip, I personally prefer Rome, but I still enjoyed Istanbul.

In terms of the amount of time to spend in Rome, I could easily spend a week in Rome and never need to leave. The people who say you can see everything in one day are the people who go to seven countries in seven days. Are you one of those people?

The Vatican will absorb much of a day. Then you have the forum and the ancient Roman ruins, plus the Pantheon. There are scores of historic churches across the city that are well worth visiting, plus several palace museums. Even if I've exhausted the sights, just being in Rome and absorbing the la dolce vita quality of life is wonderful.

If you want to do day trips from Rome, then Pompeii is a long day trip as you have to go via Naples, but it's well worth the effort. Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli is another great ruined complex not far outside Rome.

As for Istanbul, three days is probably enough time to see the principle sights. Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar and the various great mosques are within easy reach of each other, but I'd also make the effort to see one or two of the surviving Byzantine churches near the city walls, which is quite some distance from the center. Topkapi palace is a must see, and BE SURE TO SEE THE HAREM. I had a pair of friends who went to Istanbul recently and they mentioned they skipped the harem due to the queue, but the harem is by far the best part of the palace complex. If you don't see the harem, you will not understand the Ottomans.

Take a boat ride up the Bosphorus on the public ferry. Cross over to Beyoglu and walk up the steep main drag and people watch. Cross the Bosphorus to the Asian side to explore a neighborhood or two, and there's several good restaurants on that side of the water. Istanbul also apparently has a great nightlife, but I'm too old for it.

Word to the wise: do not buy a rug in Turkey. Don't fall for it. It's not a scam, but you will overpay greatly. Buy your Turkish rugs in the US.
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Old 06-20-2014, 11:25 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
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Haven't been to either but when I was researching Istanbul I envisioned a nice way to beat the urban experience would be to check out the Princes Islands in the strait.
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Old 06-20-2014, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
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Tallybalt, thank you. I'm not even planning to travel to either city again in the near future, but that was an absolute pleasure to read!
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Old 06-20-2014, 06:33 PM
 
Location: NW Indiana
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Congratulations Botticelli! It sounds like an outstanding trip.

I have never been to Turkey, although I have always wanted to visit there.

I have been to Rome and really enjoyed it. I spent a week there, including a day trip to Naples and Pompeii.

Based on my experience, Rome should need 4 - 5 days to do right.

I would highly recommend doing the Scavi tour under St. Peters. It is one of the best travel experiences I have ever had. This can be combined with a trip to the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel (truly amazing) and St. Peters itself.

I would also suggest a day doing the Forum, Palatine Hill and Colosseum.

Also a day spent walking around the city, visiting churches is well worth it. I can recommend St. Clement, which sits on the ruins of an ancient shrine to Mithras. St. Pauls is also very interesting.

I also loved the Pantheon and really enjoyed just walking through some of the neighborhoods.

A day trip to Pompeii is well worth it, but I would suggest avoiding some of the cheap bus tours. In my experience some of the bus tours to Pompeii are definitely in the "you get what you pay for class". My trip was a good 12 - 14 hours long for a total of 2 hours at Pompeii.
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