We only spent two days in Istanbul, which I was okay with mostly because I fully intend on going back to Istanbul, probably in the Spring semester. We had a great time in Istanbul, visiting places like the Blue Mosque and a traditional Hamam. But we stayed in an absolutely wonderful hostel aptly named “The Istanbul Hostel.” It was right smack dab in the middle of everything, literally a block away from the Blue Mosque and two blocks from the Hagia Sofia. We stayed in a 20-person room which was carved into a rock and had beautiful cast iron beds. Actually though, I was a bit blown away by how pretty the room we were staying in was, especially for $12 per person per night. Definitely worth it. The bathrooms were functional and clean, the showers had good water pressure at reasonable temperatures (you could actually find the temperature you wanted – unlike many hostels which have just the freezing cold and scalding options). The breakfast was in their roof-top restaurant with drop-dead gorgeous views of the Mediterranean. Since we were so close to the sea, we could see cruise ships heading out and fishing boats coming back and birds flying all over the place. I wanted to take a picture, but the sun glare made it basically impossible.
If I go back to Istanbul on my own (as opposed to on a tour with the program), I will definitely be staying in the Istanbul Hostel again.