I was intrigued when I first heard about one of Istanbulâ€™s latest attractions: an ice museum because thatâ€™s one of the last things you would associate with a city in a generally hot country. In fact, the ice museum which opened its doors in April 2010 is the only one in Europe created in a warm country.
Located in FORUM Istanbul, one of the cityâ€™s most fashionable shopping malls, a visit to the ice museum is a brilliant choice. Apart from the show, history and exhibits, the museum is open every day of the week, whereas many other museums and historical places in Istanbul are closed on Mondays. So, why not combine a Monday looking at ice sculptures with doing some shopping â€“ window or otherwise â€“ in the pleasant surroundings of FORUM Istanbul. The FORUM is easily reached because it has a separate stop on the METRO (clearly indicated) and is located close to the Central Bus station Â in Bayrampasha.
Entering the forum from the Metro stop, you descend two floors and find the entrance to Magic Ice right opposite the escalator. Admission is TYL 20 and then the fun begins , because first you have to dress up. You are given an ice blue, protective, hooded Â cape with gloves dangling from the collar to put on over your clothes to protect you from the freezing temperatures which are needed to preserve the art behind the ice tunnel. Very fetching outfit, I think.
Then you delve into the blue lighted world of ice, walking between semi transparent walls with elaborate lamps over head. The theme of the museum is based on the history of the voyage of the Vikings to Istanbul in 880 and the story is etched into sheets of ice, thankfully in Turkish and English. You can admire an entire Viking boat, a house, an elk and, of course a Viking and read the story of one of the warriors by the name of Halvan who visited the Hagia Sofia and etched his name in runes into one of the walls.
At the end of the walk an ice bar awaits and you are offered a drink in a glass made from ice. Thatâ€™s when you need to gloves, so your fingers wonâ€™t freeze off. A fabulous chandelier made from ice hangs over the bar.
Take off your cape and visit the museum shop. Plenty of carved Vikings are in evidence but the souvenirs Â I liked best are glass enclosed replicas of some of the exhibits in the museum. You are not allowed to take photographs inside the museum but the PR lady kindly gave me permission when I told her that I was writing about it.
Then, if you like, go to the upper floors of the shopping mall, have a snack and enjoy two bookshops where you can get a great selection of English language books, something not easy to come by in Turkey outside of Istanbul .Or else, stock up on any imaginable brand of international cosmetics and browse the displays of designer shops as well as more affordable but very chic local creations.
More Istanbul Tips
You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Istanbul in our Best of Istanbul Tips.
Where to Stay in Istanbul
To help you find a hotel for your stay in the city, you can check out our round-up of the best places to stay in Istanbul, which includes a range of hotels from budget through to luxury.
More on European Museums
Find out about more museums in Europe on Europe a la Carte.