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.
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.
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.
on 25 February 2013
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!!
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.
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.
on 24 July 2013
I visited Istanbul for the first time recently and this was a great companion. Small enough to fit comfortably in a back pack and not weighing too much. Up to date and full of interesting tit bits, it made sure I managed to get the most out of the 4 day visit. Comes with a handy map and lots of information about the different areas, it was particularly useful getting to know my way round the tourist district and ensuring that I looked our for special things along my walks. Well worth the investment, as was evident by the number of other people who were armed with the book.
Written in the same style as all the other Lonely Planet guides, coming with the same level of reliability.
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
on 6 July 2014
It's right enough and easy to read. Just a couple of tips they gave we're a little bit incorrect. For example saying that the Islands were the quietest places ever......apart from all the damn bell ringing of the horse and carts and bikes!! Did not find it peaceful! And get on ferry half hour before sail time to ensure a seat. That didn't work either, try and hour. But otherwise it was ok
on 28 January 2014
If you like me have only 3 days to spend in this magical city, the guide is what you need to get around and have a insight of everything important to not miss.
I went there to visit a friend and she was bringing me around, but everything was in the guide as well, so I didn't feel like I was running in circle of missing something important. And when I went solo I just trust the guide and I am glad I did.