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TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 May 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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on 13 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
City guides can be a bit hit or miss, and I must admit I've become a fan of Frommers guides recently, especially for weekend trips. Istanbul can be visited over a long weekend, but there really is too much to see. If you are planning to spend a week there, I definitely recommend this book.

The guide is in essence a mini Lonely Planet:
- Planning your trip - top 10 lists, what's good for children, what's best for various interests, when to go etc
- Explore - this is the main meat of the book, breaking Istanbul into 6 areas of interest and then detailing what to see in each one. I must admit at first glance it's a bit too DK travel guide for me, with details of how to tour various individual sites including special maps. On reflection though, it's actually really good as you can prepare for what you are going to see and make sure you see everything. It's exactly the level of detail you want
- Understanding - this is basically the history of Istanbul, is detailed, interesting and well written. I'd argue it should come before the Explore section as that is when you would read it, but that's just my view.
- Survival guide - quite thin here, including a big diagram showing the mains plug connector, and some useful translations, notably over 2 pages of menu translation assistance.. welcome indeed!
- There are then some extra maps for various districts showing the sights highlighted earlier.

Overall I think this is an excellent guide. Nothing has been missed out, there is more detail than the main Turkey guide, so if you are planning a week's trip to Istanbul you can't go wrong with this book.
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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 VOICEon 27 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 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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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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on 29 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Istanbul is a city divided by the "Golden Horn" and the "Bosphorus Straits". It stands half in Europe and half in Asia making it's architecture some of the most unique and beautiful buildings in the world (well, I think so) - other than Florence, Rome and Venice it is one of the most fascinating cities I have encountered.

I already have a Frommer's Guide to Istanbul and I found that to be a great guide to the fascinating city. When I saw this I wondered if there was anything I had missed out on. Unfortunately this guide was not as good as the Frommer's.

The map is easily lost as you have to remove it completely from the book by tearing along the perforations which is okay, but once it's loose there is a really good chance that it will be lost. Frommer's comes with a plastic pocket at the rear to store your map.

The way the book is laid out seems rather eclectic to me.

Many of the photographic images are not inspiring. With some of them I had to look at the picture twice to see if it really was what it said it was.

The book, however, gives some good ideas when planning your trip if you have some knowledge of the area, though I am not sure that it would be as useful if you don't know anything about the city.
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on 3 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Lonely Planet has a very distinctive way of organising their travel books and selecting the information they present and I for one think it's great. This is particularly so when you are going to more 'exotic' destinations and so Lonely Planet's approach to the fantastic city of Istanbul is an ideal one.

So what you get is a very accessible and useable guide to this varied and often perplexing city in a handy sized book that's relatively easy to carry in a travel bag. It is a very well organised guide that is pretty comprehensive in it's approach to both travelling there and making the most of what the city has to offer once there. Great for pointers and good suggestions to get off the tourist trail as well as find some of the more economical places to eat and hang out. It has excellent, easy to follow neighbourhood maps, and useful cultural insights, which are essentially to understand in a city like Istanbul. There's a really good fold-out map of the whole city included in the back of the print version as well. Great price too- what's there not to like.
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VINE VOICEon 16 May 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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