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Visit Istanbul or Morocco in June

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My DD and I are planning her HS graduation trip.  We'll be spending 5 days in Rome, 3 days visiting family in Zurich.  I want to add one additional location that is less Western European.  I am considering Istanbul or Morocco. 

I know travel time is a factor for many people, but it's not for us. We'll happily add on 6 to 10 hours of travel if I get to go somewhere that is a completely new experience for me.  We would plan to spend 2 to 3 full days in the additional location.

I've never been to either location.  Everyone's input is appreciated, whether you've actually been or not. 

If it matters, we are from the US, she has travelled extensively here, and also to Mexico, London, Moscow, Abu Dhabi and Australia.

I have been to Istanbul, but not Morocco.

There are simply layers and layers and layers of history in Istanbul. Old churches and mosques galore--Haghia Sophia, Church of St Saviour--many of the churches have incredible mosaics. Places of the sultans-- Topkapı Palace, Dolmabahçe Palace. The food is wonderful--I think Turkish food is one of the best kept culinary secrets there is. Plenty of shopping at the covered bazzar or in modern malls. Lovely modern hotels, plus lovely traditional ones. You could do a day trip to Troy and bring the Illiad to life. Just ignore the Trojan horse they've built.

You could easily spend 3 days hitting just the major tourist spots. Most places have tour guides who speak English, and most of the museums have signs in English and Turkish. Driving is a hassle--the streets are narrow and the city is hilly and clearly the roads were laid out long before there were cars. Parking is also an issue in many places. I'd plan on taking taxis.

I found that knowing just a few words of Turkish, "thank you" and "hello" and that sort of thing, really got a positive response from the people I met, much more so than in other countries. From what I understand, Turkish is a difficult language to learn and most foreigners don't even try, so just an attempt earns you a lot of goodwill.

In case you couldn't tell, I had a great time there and can't wait to go again. And I still can't believe I've actually been to Troy.

I think I'd go to Istanbul. As  Caan says, it has practically everything - wonderful history & architecture, fantastic food - there are some excellent museums, and especially as you're planning to go to Rome first you'll get the opportunity to compare the Roman remains, art etc, and the Byzantine & Ottoman ones.

And when you feel a little less cultural, treat yourself to a hamman and spa treatments.
There are also boat trips on the Bosporus if you want to get out of the city.

I loved Istanbul (and other parts of Turkey)

I don't know where in Morroco  you were thinking of visiting - I've been to Marakesh. It's interesting, but I didn't like it as much as Turkey. For one thing, although you'll get people trying relentlessly to sell you stuff, they are FAR more persistent in Marakesh, I also found as a woman travelling alone or with another woman there was a lot more hassle in Morocco. (even when dressed in a similarly restrained fashion)

Although both are predominantly Muslim countries, Turkey is more relaxed and liberal-as an example, you are free (even welcome) to visit mosques in Turkey (and many are stunning) in Morocco (or at least Marakesh) non-Muslims are forbidden to enter mosques.
Learning a few words , even if it's only 'merhaba' & 'teşekkür ederim' (hello and thank you) it will be appreciated.

Thank you both for your input.  It sounds like Istanbul will be the winner.  I had not thought about Morocco being more traditional Muslim as far as women traveling alone.  And I did not know that they did not allow non-Muslims to visit Mosques and would never had validated that had you not posted.  Non-Muslims visiting US Mosques is common.

The mosque thing wouldn't have occurred to me, either, before I went. I think most here welcome visitors (provided they are willing to remove shoes / dress appropriately etc)


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