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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Guide to a Wonderful City
Istanbul is a fascinating city and definitely one of my favourite places, and I have been there five or six times now. It is a thriving and colourful metropolis, the place where Europe meets Asia and this book does quite a reasonable job of guiding the visitor around.

The first forty odd pages are devoted to an overview of the city and include the obligatory...
Published 14 months ago by Brett H

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Informative but almost completely unusable
I am a fan of the Lonely Planet books as I have always found them packed full of information, and have always found the walking tours at the end of each section useful for planning what to do in each disctrict of the cities you visit. In the old formats of the series the maps of the disctricts or regions were contained at the start of each chapter, with the key next to...
Published 17 months ago by Chris


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Guide to a Wonderful City, 29 April 2013
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lonely Planet Istanbul (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
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Istanbul is a fascinating city and definitely one of my favourite places, and I have been there five or six times now. It is a thriving and colourful metropolis, the place where Europe meets Asia and this book does quite a reasonable job of guiding the visitor around.

The first forty odd pages are devoted to an overview of the city and include the obligatory ten top sites to see, for once quite uncontroversial as most would be in agreement as to the majority of this list. Also included is some general information, some suggested itineraries and other basic information. A quite useful and recently introduced feature in Lonely Planet guides is the What's New section and here the recently completed restoration of Aya Sofya is highlighted. This is definitely on the Must Visit list in Istanbul and it has a lengthy and fascinating history. It was originally a Christian Church built in 537 and the last Christian service was held there the day before the Muslim invasion of Constantinople in 1453.

The bulk of the book consists of a description of the six neighbourhoods of the city. Included here are details of the top tourist attractions, including entry fees and days of opening (the latter being important as not many are open all seven days here), where to eat, drink, shop etc. The eating information should be treated with care as in my experience the updating with a new edition is limited and you may well find the eating establishment you have chosen to go to is not as described.

The remainder of the book, some 80 pages, is devoted to an eclectic mix of history and useful information for the visitor including accommodation, though I, like I imagine most these days, tend to rely on sites such as Tripadvisor for the latter. I especially like the feature of the Survival Guide, which has been introduced by Lonely Planet. Overall this is a very useful little book and certainly enough for the visitor to enjoy a few days visit to this wonderful city. I found it easy enough to find my way around the book and a useful map is included at the end.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Informative but almost completely unusable, 14 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Istanbul (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
I am a fan of the Lonely Planet books as I have always found them packed full of information, and have always found the walking tours at the end of each section useful for planning what to do in each disctrict of the cities you visit. In the old formats of the series the maps of the disctricts or regions were contained at the start of each chapter, with the key next to it. The information of each site or attraction then followed, and finally a walking tour map and instructions at the end of the section. The restaurants, cafes and nightlife was then in a whole different section which I always hated as you had to flick backwards and forwards the whole time.

In this book the restaurants, etc are, thankfully, contained within the corresponding sections for each disctricts. So less flicking back and forth through the book to find the information you need! Unfortuantely not. The following changes appear to have come about:

. The maps for each area have found their way into the back of the book rather than at the start of each section, so now you have to flick to the back of the book to find out where anything is. Not only this but the 'Main Sites' as the book now calls them are not in alphabetical order on the key and are instead in their own little sub-heading. Two places to look now instead of one!

. The main sites have their own dedicated subsections within each chapter, so more information, which is great, however it does make it rather difficult to find the information your looking for through all the blurb.

. The transport for each chapter seems to have been removed and a new chapter created at the back of the book, so now if you want to know how to get anywhere its all in one place. Again more flicking backwards and forwards.

. Theres an excusions chapter. For example you can take a boat trip up the Bosphorus and back which takes 90 minutes. None of the main attractions are within this section so you have to constantly flick back to past chapters, and then back to the back of the book for the map of each disctrict. I needed three thumbs when planning this part of my trip. Not only that but the guide helpfully tells you that you can't get off the boat and back on again on the same ticket, so if you alight at any one of the attractions, you have to pay for a new ticket. Fine, so I want to go one way on the boat and then back on the bus so I can stop of at each site and not have to pay a fortune in boat fairs. Does the guide book tell you which buses to take, how much these cost, etc? Sadly not.

. There are no details of international buses to and from Istanbul. Not even a contact number or a website. Nothing!

Basically this contains almost all the information that you need for your trip but it is horredously disorganised. Why can't all the information that you need for each disctrict just be contained within one chapter? Hopefully they'll get it right next time. If your a fan of Lonely Planet and think you can cope with the layout, buy it. If your not a fan and don't have three thumbs, go for something else.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lonely planet fan, 17 May 2013
By 
Victor Meldrew Mk2 "stefan morawiec" (Dorset) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Istanbul (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
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I admit to being a lonely planet fan and I always purchase one of their guides before I travel anywhere. I have visited Lisbon, Cadiz, Valencia, Barcelona, ROme and Istanbul this year and either purchased or already had a Lonely Planet guide to use. What I like about them is that they carry sufficient information within them for my tourist needs, but more importantly for me as a season traveller, is that the format is the same for each book, therefore, although the city/country changes, I am familiar with where to look for what. I normally read the history elements of these books before I go, or during the flight and this book gives sufficient background to how the city developed as to introduce you to it before you arrive.

So what did I like about the guide to Istanbul? Straight off, for someone who rarely visits a city for more than two days, the "top 10" are well described, their locations are easy to find and more importantly, how to get there is easy to understand, particularly what to and what not to use. I use public transport wherever possible and I found that I had no problem getting around the city and for someone whose language skills are laughed at wherever I have visited, the ability to show the picture of where I want to get to when I can't get people to understand my use of the "useful words/statements" also contained within this book is fine for my needs.

I never use the restaurant reviews as I eat where I like the look of the restaurant, but for those more cautious travellers, particularly some from the US, I think that they are less likely to throw caution to the wind and eat from a street market, which I did whilst there, in saying that, I have followed recommendations in the past and have not been disappoited.

My one negative comment is the book's size, it is quite bulky and identifies you as a tourist, even if your white complexion, carrying a bulky camera and wearing the look of someone searching for somewhere don't. Don't travel to Istanbul without it - what it doesn't contain, it points you to where you can find out what you need to know.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Istanbul Guide, 16 May 2013
By 
Sussman "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Istanbul (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
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This new comprehensive edition is conveniently small and rather portable, for me, it seems nicely structured and with relatively pleasing layout, although some reviewers have said they did not like the change in format etc., some have gone so far as to say it is `unintuitive'.
The illustrations and colour plates are placed throughout the guide which does intrude into the text somewhat, so you do not want to be on street corner looking like an obvious tourist thumbing through the pages to look up some information, that said I always try and put together a quick crib sheet together and rely on that while out and about, and if needs must, will quickly dip into my guide book - normally in a café or such place.

Lonely Planet seems to have also introduced colourful text to illustrate important points or facts; I am still undecided on whether they add clutter or are helpful. While do not expect my guide books to be dripping in historical information, for my tastes I found this particular guide to be rather light, considering the location I was somewhat surprised if not disappointed by this lack of information. At the end of the guide is a rather useful city map. You get the usual tips and suggested itineraries, plus what and how do things once you arrive in town. All in all a nice guide, but for me there a few niggles - hence my four star rating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not sure about the new format - Not perfect but still the best!, 25 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Istanbul (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
I have long considered Lonely Planet the best books to actually use 'on the ground' but the format of this new Istanbul guide was a bit of a culture shock. They seem to have moved everything around and placed it as unintuitively as possible.

Prettier graphics, colour photos through the guide rather than just a few sample pics at the start, coloured text!! Are they feeling the heat from the glossier pic heavy guides?

Was a little unimpressed initially but having taken this and the DK guide with me to Istanbul last week (as well as several on kindle) I can say that this was the one that we actually used.

Take the restaurant reviews with a pinch of salt, but the sights were well dealt with and the essential information was all there (even if it wasn't where you necessarily expected it to be!) making this the best pocket guide I have seen so far. Maps were accurate and intelligible too.

Still not sure about the racier format but it delivers the goods!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Useless out of date book unless you want to visit museums, 17 Jun 2013
By 
Amazon Customer (London, England United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Istanbul (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
This book is absolutely useless. There is so much attractions and things to do in Istanbul not covered by this book. Even the maps of this book only cover a small area of Istanbul (I was forced to use Google maps on my smartphone on a number of occasions). Fortunately we didn't just rely on this book we asked several people we knew that had visited Istanbul, otherwise we would have ruined our trip.
Where do I start, The princes Island, only a short 40 minute ferry trip from the Spice Bazaar area of Istanbul. There's so much to do in Princes Island, horse rides, cycle hire, donkey rides for the kids, a tower to visit, many fish restaurants on the waterfront, A lot of beautiful scenery, both in the woods and on the waterfront of the island yet not even mentioned in this miserable book.
What about the Istanbul Aquarium, One of the largest in the world, a must view if you have kids. Been open since 2011, and yet not a mention this supposedly 2013 updated edition book, and worse still no maps for that area of Istanbul.
What about the Cable cars in Eyup part of Istanbul ? Just a short ferry trip away from the Spice Bazaar.
I was devastated to find out about this after our trip, and yet again no mention of this the book, and again no maps for that part of Istanbul.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.........
The restaurant guide is a joke, we went to find the rated restaurant Sefa in Sultanahmet area where we were staying, after going down a lot of side streets and alleyways we find the rated restaurant at about 2pm, only to find it was closed and yet the guide stated it was open till 5pm, so why advertise this guide book as a 2013 updated edition when it clearly is not, that's misrepresentation.
This book bangs on about museums, as if these is not much else to see, which could not be further from the truth.
I thoroughly regret ever having purchased this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice introduction to Istanbul, 16 May 2013
By 
Gogol (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Istanbul (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
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Having lived I Istanbul for several years I was interested to read this book and see what advice it could give to the casual traveller. For the price I really do think this book represents excellent value for money.

First of all its colour and contains numerous pictures of Mosques, Churches, the river and many of the most important sights of the city. Secondly, there are many new sights it mentions I was not aware of that have only recently been built such as the modern designed Mosque. The book quite rightly points out the ever increasing price rise in Istanbul, granted not as much as many other big cities around the world but as the author rightly points out, gone are the days of a budget backpack style holiday here.

There is a great food and drink, transport guide and a fantastic pull out map. At the back there is an excellent dictionary of words and phrases. All in all a great book, recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for basic info, 7 May 2013
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Istanbul (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
A decent guide for basic information, but don't expect too much. The book advises you to devote multiple days to single landmarks which for most travellers is unrealistic... and honestly speaking it would be impossible to spend a whole day at most of them without running out of things to do!

Recommendations are okay in some cases, but the best food and bars we found were by accident. The maps lack detail, making them almost defunct.

All in all, the guide is okay for getting a general feel of the neighbourhoods and figuring out what's where... but beyond that it's barely mediocre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Attractive Decent Guide - Flawed Maps and Lacking Atmosphere, 28 April 2013
By 
wolf (East Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Istanbul (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
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Istanbul is one of the world's great cities. Astonishing history, a blend of cultures and some very different and distinct districts make it a fascinating place to visit.

The new Lonely Planet Guide does a decent job of show casing its attractions but falls short of being the perfect guide book:

- Well Illustrated: The guide has plenty of full colour photographs of both the major tourist draws and life in the city. There are cut away images of important locations, such as the Aya Sophia and Topkapi Palace, as well as more conventional schematic plans of buildings.

- Plenty of Maps but Badly Laid Out: There is no shortage of maps of the city in the guide. Each subsection dealing with an area or district has its own map at the start with the top recommended sights marked. At the back of the book, inside the cover, is a pull out map, also with the major recommendations marked on it. Oddly, however, there is a more complete selection of maps on the final pages of the book. These maps have all the accommodation, restaurant and going out recommendations on them, whilst the actual recommendations show up in the sections for each area. You have to flick back and forwards in order to work out where the cafe you are looking for might be. This seems an error to me - the maps for each section should include this information.

- Concise but Conventional Descriptions: The Lonely Planet, as expected, points you in the direction of the key tourist sights and, in doing so, covers the ground quickly and efficiently. That said, there is a lack of opinion, atmosphere or personality in its descriptions. Some might appreciate the neutrality of this, for my part I'd prefer a less functional and more opinionated personal guide. My decade old Rough Guide has time for life breathing quotations from other writers and wry observations (the cafe in the Basilica Cistern lending 'an air of mystery' and the tastelessness of some of the items on display at Topkapi Palace) which make it a pleasure to read in a way this is not.

- Useful Itineraries: The book, as is increasingly standard in guides these days, has sections giving recommendations on how best to explore the city (here over four days) and walking tour routes for each area. These are useful but will increase the risk of simply following the Lonely Planet tour - rather than exploring for oneself.

- Concentration on Hot Spots: The guide devotes its space to the places it knows will be popular with tourists. That means that there is extra space, including its lavish illustrations, for all the most important sights. On the other hand, it means that interesting but less well known places and sights must suffer. I'd recommend that anyone in Istanbul takes a ride on the Tunel - Istanbul's nineteenth century attempt at an underground system that only runs one stop. It is quirky and interesting and not at all touristy but it has no entry in this guidebook.

- Lack of History and Context: It is not entirely successful in providing historical and cultural context. This may not concern some, but the experience of a city with so many layers of history is partly about appreciating these things. There are a couple of pages devoted to history at the end but these lack the Rough Guide's abbreviated authority (which leaves one feeling you have had a sufficient grounding) or the charm of Top Ten's reduction of all history to ten key moments. There is a discussion of architecture but this does not really get under the skin of the variety of buildings to see in Istanbul, without even a picture of the disappearing crumbling wooden Ottoman houses that the visitor might still stumble across in a back street.

In summary, a good guide but not exceptional and let down by the layout of its maps.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Update, 27 April 2013
By 
NeilC (Windsor, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Istanbul (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
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I've been to Istanbul a few times in the past and got this book in anticipation of another visit. Given I already have a reasonable knowledge of the city and it's sights I found this book a great reference guide that will make sure that you get the most out of any visit to the city.

Lonely Planet guidebooks have always been the most durable books, with very solid spines and hard wearing covers. This means that they are up to main long days in the city and the wear and tear that comes with being constantly taken in and out of pockets.

To this, Lonely Planet have really improved the layout and design. Whereas previously the guide books were limited to a monochrome standard layout with some colour photograph sections, there is now colour making it much easier to read, highlighting the different sections, sights vs. hotels vs. restaurants etc.

The content is up to the Lonely Planet's usual high standards. The descriptions and detail are just enough that you could get buy without any supplmental information or sight-specific guidebooks (though you will need more if you have a deep interest and want more than just an overview) and the call-outs of interesting side stories and separate sections on food, language, history etc. are excellent. I also really like how in each section of the city and for the overall book they highlight the main sights and key walking routes, meaning that you can get real value and insight about what to do with only a light read.

All-in-all, an indispensable guide and the best one I've seen for Istanbul. I've tried the LP phone apps in the past but in all honesty despite having to carry a slightly bulkier book around, the books still win hands down.

Enjoy your trip!
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