With a fusion of historical influences and modern developments, Istanbul feels like several cities at once. It was a key checkpoint on the Silk Road and has been partially designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Religion, relaxation and recreation - Istanbul has it all
Previously known as Constantinople, Istanbul was the centre of first the Byzantine and then Ottoman empires. The modern city is a cultural hub for two continents, and is split into two by the Bosphorus. All of the main tourist attractions - shopping, bars and clubs, and stunning historical landmarks - can be found west of the strait, with suburban neighbourhoods to the east.
Summer in Istanbul is hot, and as the city is on the coast there are lots of sandy beaches close by. It typically snows in winter, and theres a very popular ski resort just outside the city on Uludag mountain.
Top 10 Istanbul experiences
There are many things that you can only see, find and do in Turkey - and Istanbul has most of them. When youre planning your itinerary, be sure to include at least a few of the following:
- Get up early to try fresh bonito at the fish market
- Spend a day exploring the massive, beautiful Topkapi Castle
- Rub shoulders with the locals at a locanta restaurant
- Haggle for a bargain at the Grand Bazaar
- Cruise down the Bosphorus Strait on a ferry
- Watch ships sail from the Golden Horn harbour area
- Visit the Sultan Ahmed Mosque - more commonly known as the Blue Mosque
- Relax and unwind at one of the many Turkish baths
- Stay up late and experience the citys huge clubbing scene
- Explore the Haghia Sophia basilica
Top 5 ways to experience Istanbuls culture
Istanbul is both physically and culturally the link between Europe and Asia, and it brings the two together in harmony through art, food and design. Here are some ways to soak up the local atmosphere on your next trip:
- Eat kofte kebabs, feta cheese and seafood at a meyhane Turkish tapas bar
- See Turkish art at the Istanbul Modern exhibition space
- Take a walk back in time along the ancient city walls
- Sample the locally-produced rakia or vodka
- Visit the Museum of Painting and Sculpture