Istanbul is a unique destination when it comes to a city break given that it provides the opportunity to quite literally enjoy an East meets West experience.
That’s because the Turkish city is the only one in the world to straddle two continents, with the European and Asian sides of the city being split in two by the Bosphorus River.
Dating back thousands of years and previously known as both Constantinople and Byzantium, Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and also the most visited, with millions of foreign visitors making the trip every year.
Those visitors head for the city at all the times of the year, although the winter months are less appealing given the chance of encountering a shower and the fact that temperatures will fall noticeably.
In peak season, the Mediterranean climate means things can get quite hot and humid, with spring and autumn being popular thanks to the fact that whilst the sun is shining, the temperatures remain somewhat milder.
As a former capital of the Roman Empire, it should come as little surprise to see that Istanbul is a city packed with history and culture.
Pay a visit to the Old City, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can explore famous attractions like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque whilst you might also want to check out the Topkapı Palace; once the royal residence for the leaders of the Ottoman Empire.
Alongside the ancient buildings and structures across the city, Istanbul is home to one of the world’s great markets – the Grand Bazaar. The market is spread across a huge area and is made up of thousands of different stores selling all manner of different goods.
There are few better places to grab a souvenir to take back home and if you can’t find it within the bazaar then there is a good chance you won’t find it anywhere else either…
During your time in Istanbul, there will be plenty of opportunities to sample the very best in Turkish cuisine whilst when the time comes to relax, you could always elect to take a break in a traditional Hamam – of which there are many across the city.
Blending old world charm with modern day delights in equal measure, Istanbul is a city where you’re sure to create memories that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque because of the tiles that adorn the outside, is a historic mosque that dates back to the 1600s. One of the most famous buildings in Istanbul, the large mosque features five large domes and six towers that stand out on the city landscape. Still used for worship to this day, the mosque is amongst the most popular attractions for anyone visiting Istanbul.
Dating back nearly 1500 years, the current Hagia Sophia was originally built as a Greek Orthodox Church before converted into a mosque and is now home to one of the most visited museums in Turkey. Located near the Blue Mosque, the museum is open on a daily basis and is regarded as one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture to still be standing.
Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is a huge indoor market that covers a huge area within the Old Town and is one of the largest – and oldest – markets of its type anywhere in the world. Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors on a daily basis, the market is home to thousands of different shops selling all manner of goods and is more than a match for the more modern shopping complexes that have now appeared across the city.
The Topkapı Palace was built in the 1460s as the royal residence for Turkey’s Ottoman leaders and was regarded as one of the most important buildings in the city. Since the 1920s, the Palace has become a museum that includes an expansive collection of artefacts from Ottoman times and is listed one of the Historic Areas of Istanbul that make up a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Bosphorus splits Istanbul in two and the chance to take a cruise on the water is a great way to take an alternative view of some of the city sights. There are various options available when it comes to a trip along the river, some of which add in the chance to sample some top class Turkish cuisine as you cruise on the water.
The Süleymaniye Mosque is another of Istanbul’s imposing religious sites and is a landmark building on the city landscape. The grand building dates back to the 1550s and features four impressive towers and impressive gardens from where you can take in views across the city.
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