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on 17 June 2013
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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on 14 February 2013
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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VINE VOICEon 23 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a well written, detailed guide to Istanbul.

It's broken up into several sections, including an introduction, a survival guide (more on that later), and a series of geographical sections, each self-contained. It also contains a capacious index. The book itself is printed on good quality stock paper, and is, as one trip out in the rain proved, remarkably water resistant. It's not so thick that it's going to be heavy carrying around, but vertically it's a bit more than the height of a paperback, so it won't easily fit into a pocket - which is a shame. Still, it's easy enough to carry in-hand or in a backpack/travelling bag.

The introduction takes the reader through a a brief, travel-channel-esque summary of Istanbul, before leading into the main event, the geographical sections. Each part of Istanbul, and the outskirts, is represented here, and each section contains discrete sub-sections for food, hotels, drinking establishments and places of interest.

Each of the larger tourist attractions has its own detailed paragraphs, and there's a series of very well-done photographs scattered liberally throughout the text, which are fascinating to look at by themselves. Effectively, the text tells you all about the attraction, and the photographs show you what it looks like - always useful in deciding where to go in a limited timeframe.
At the back of the book is the `survival guide', which covers all sorts of useful tips, like how much to tip, how to travel in the city, the potential usefulness of museum cards, and other things that a local probably knows immediately, but which might catch out the new visitor. It certainly proved instructive reading.

I think my only real complaint, as with others in this new guide series, is with the area maps. The text is broken into geographical sections, and all of the attractions, restaurants etc. for a given area are given a code in the text, which tells you where they are on the area map. The maps are detailed, so it's easy to find where you're going. However, all the area maps are at the back of the book, rather than at the start of each area section, meaning that there's a startling amount of flipping between the section for the area you're in and the back of the book - this starts to get annoying after a while, not least because finding the map for a particular area among all the other pages of maps is a bit trickier than if it was just at the start of the appropriate area section.

Still, this is a relatively minor niggle; overall this is a thorough, detailed guide by obviously informed authors, and will serve as an excellent travel aid.
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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My own visit to Istanbul has not happened yet, but it is high on my To-Do list, high enough for me to have chosen this Lonely Planet guide off the Vine for immediate reading. Speaking as a prospective tourist I'm inclined to give the book all five stars. I read the guide before I read some criticisms of the new format in other reviews, and I can say truthfully that none of them were matters that bothered me. I guess there is no perfect layout, but I would rather refer backwards and forwards between two clear and uncluttered pages relating to the same topic, for instance, than be faced with a single presentation that is crowded and `busy'.

In general I thought the format attractive and reader-friendly. Any information I want at this stage is there, together with a fair amount that I don't yet need and may never need. No criticism there - it's the way of guide books in general. I certainly want some data on restaurants, for one thing, but surely we all know better than to suppose that many restaurants last long. A bit of generalisation on the topic of food is what is needed, something easy to bear in mind when the scene on the ground is unfamiliar.

An architectural and historical gem like Istanbul needs to have pride of place given to its heritage in a tourist guide. It's not as if we were going to the Algarve or Ibiza. This book selects some of the principal sites of `interest' (what a word!) and not only devotes an adequate amount of explanatory text to them but also provides annotated ground-plans. Above all, there is a really excellent pull-out map with the plan of the entire city on one side and three more specialised maps on the other. This is an ideal supplement for anyone poring over the guide-book in order to make preliminary plans. If any of this is not suited to anyone in a hurry, all I would suggest to a traveller taking on a city as majestic and rewarding as Istanbul is - don't be in such a hurry: come back when you're not.

Just a couple of curiosities -- who ever heard of 'kebaps'? This is the way it's spelt except where the editor's eye was distracted and the ordinary familiar spelling creeps back in. Also nobody ever called any route by sea or land 'Bosphorus', which means 'containing cattle' if that can be said to 'mean' anything. It is pretty certainly just a sound-association with 'phosphorus' which means 'containing light'. Try 'Bosporus', sc cattle trail or cattle route. The Greeks had a word for it, and that's what the word was.
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VINE VOICEon 25 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A someone who has recently returned from Istanbul and enjoyed it so much we booked straight away to go back in a fortnight, this guide was definitely well received

Is slightly broader than most city guides, it may not fit into a narrow pocket but that's just an observation.
The back of the book contains a full fold out map which is detailed and useful (although you will look so obvious standing on a corner and unfolding it!) and before this a re small maps of the basic areas in Istanbul.

This books focuses on the 6 most popular areas around Istanbul and like all guide books, there are a lot of pages in each section about where to stay, where to eat and where to shop. If I'm honest I wish the books would ease up on these as it can seriously date the book within months in this economic climate, and while they try to feature more established places, nothing is really set in stone. Tell me what are the local goods certainly, but I don't need to know every textile shop, or where to get a decent leather handbag. Also, and this could be personal, but do we need a lot of information about where to sleep? Most city guides I would have thought are bought after somewhere is booked and to do some research on what to do, not where to sleep. Anyway, that's perhaps just personal

There are a couple of pages at the beginning with suggestions for kids, free activities, month by month guides etc and I wold have liked more of this sort of thing rather than just a token contribution. At the back are a couple of pages on useful phrases and the obligatory "survival guide" (crime, post, lgbt traveller etc)

It's a good guide, I do want to make that clear, but it could have been much smaller and compact without the superfluous shops and hotel pages and more focused on the history, architecture and lifestyle there. The sort of things that won't date - however, this isn't a criticism of Lonely Planet, more city guides in general. They don't seem to cater towards people who have already booked and want to discover their own restaurants and shops rather than being told what to do.

This is a good guide for planning a complete trip to Istanbul if you haven't already booked anywhere, or are maybe travelling through while seeing the world, however if you have booked up, or been before then I suspect there are better guides out there
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 September 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having just booked a cruise to the eastern Mediterranean, I was delighted to be offered this guide to review. I can now report back from "road testing" the guide.

In this day and age, the guidebook is deemed by many to be a dinosaur - soon to be replaced by instantly available iPhone apps, online maps, etc. Well, for this guide and this city, I think there is life in the old thing yet.

The book is gorgeous. Full colour photographs throughout, colour coded edges to the pages, and lots of colourful headings, etc. to help you navigate to information quickly and easily. It is also a good size - about that of a small paperback novel and only 1cm thick. It slips easily into a rucksack or jacket pocket, but is large enough to read without a magnifying glass.

It is also the work of a single author, who has lived in Istanbul for many years and clearly knows its ways intimately. This gives a level of quality and authority that a travel "wiki" page cannot match.

I think it also helps that Istanbul is such a corker of a city. There is so much history, culture, art and tradition mixed up in one place, from ancient Romans to Crusaders, Venetian traders to Ottoman sultans. This is a city that you need to prepare for, and this guide gives you all the meat and no fluff. Once in the city, and especially in its bazaars, you need a guide to help avoid getting lost, or fleeced!

I was there for 2 days. I can honestly says that every single thing I took from the guide was 100% correct. The tram was as easy and useful as suggested, avoiding all the traffic jams. The tips on getting into museums and monuments without undue queuing were correct. I even went round the Grand Bazaar without getting lost.

I fully intend to return to Istanbul for a longer stay. And the first thing in my bag will be this guide. Indispensable!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 September 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This Lonely Planet guide is different to other LP products I've used in the past. I'm not sure if it is because it's for a city rather than a whole country or if it is the author's choice.
Anyways, I like this setup - it is accessible and logical and has quite a few intro pages like the Top 10 Sights, What's New, Need to Know (which is probably more centered around weekend visitors than back packers), Top Itineraries (Which again is centered around weekend visitors with little time and who are happy to follow the tourist trail), Month by Month main festivals and events, Free stuff etc. And then it goes on to introduce the different areas of Istanbul starting with the most popular. Later on is more about the history, architecture etc. for those who really want to know the city before they arrive - and finally it has a fold out map! For anybody who has travelled around with Lonely planet books before, this will be a massive improvement as their maps were either too small scale or spanned several pages, so you would have to keep browsing around to find out where you were.
I was there several years ago and was lucky enough to be shown around by a friend's wife who used to work as a guide in the city. It was some intensive touristy days and I can see that I crossed off 7 of the Top 10 sight and the going-out-places etc. seem to be quite similar to her favourite choices as well, so to me it seems trustworthy.
This book has brought up enough old memories that I'm definitely off for another visit to this wonderful city some time next year - and as my friends are now no longer located in the city, I'll have to go with this book which doesn't seem like a bad second choice.
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