Istanbul, a fascinating city built on two continents is a melting point of many civilizations and different people. Divided by the Bosphorus Strait, it is one of the greatest cities in the world with a traditional eastern city meets a modern western city in a melodious combination.
The city is famous for several different waters. Get amazed by the Black sea in the North, in the South you will be greeted by the Marmara Sea. From towering minarets to underground Byzantine cisterns and steamy bathhouses, the city offers a fabulous array of attractions. The Blue Mosque which was built in 17th century lures lot of visitors annually and is one amongst the few mosques that have six minarets.
Another tourist attraction is a stunning Byzantine structure ‘The Aya Sofya’, which is also known as Hagia Sophia. It was built as a church in 6th century, but was later turned into a mosque. The Basilica Cistern is next on the must-visit list. The magnificent structure was constructed to supply water to the Great Palace which is located close to the Hippodrome.
To catch a panoramic view of the city from a considerable height, visit to The Galata Tower. During the Ottoman era, the tower was earlier used as a watch tower. Now visitors throng the place to get view of many historical sites located in the region including Princes` Islands located in the Marmara Sea.
A visit to Topkapi Palace is a must, as here travelers get a rare opportunity to lay their eyes on incredible collection of jewels, matchless ceramics, imperial costumes, unique manuscripts, religious relics and armor. The palace remains closed on Tuesday. The tickets to the harem are sold separately, but it`s worth the money as it is tastefully done and exude the magnificence.
Taksim Square is another popular tourist destination which is dotted with lots of shops, bars, restaurants, etc. Istinye Park comes next and it is a shopping mall which is constructed flawlessly. Even if malls don’t interest you much, it is a must-see place. For crazy night life, head to Bebek and Arnavutköy. You can enjoy great food and music.
Whether you are travelling alone or with family and friends, holidays in Istanbul will surely be memorable for everyone, as the city has lot to offer.
Istanbul is a city that wears its history and culture well. It blends its rich culture and history in such a way that makes it more exciting, building up the curiosity which attracts the visitors from all around the world. Founded during the Neolithic times, the city of Istanbul has been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site offering plethora of architectural wonders on your doorstep.
Blue Mosque- The Blue Mosque was built by Sultan Ahmet in the 17th century, which remains an active house of worship even today. The mosque is closed to sightseers during the five daily prayers times for Muslims. Featuring a cascade of domes and six slender minarets, the curvaceous mosque was constructed from the blue tiles on the dome along with the interiors of the upper levels.
Suleymaniye Mosque- Located on the Third Hill of Istanbul, the mosque was built by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in 1550. The most showcases a beautiful blend of Islamic and Byzantine architecture. The visitors to this Mosque fall in love with its unmatched beauty and peacefulness. The mosque was restored in 20th century after getting extensively damaged during the WWI.
Dolmabahce Palace- Get a taste of luxury in the city of Sultans. Plush, luxurious and beautiful doesn’t justify the magnificence of Dolmabahce Palace. Built in 19th century, the palace was home to six Sultans from 1856 to 1924. Constructed by using 14 tons of gold leaf, Turkey’s most opulent palace blends traditional Ottoman architecture with the European styles of Neoclassical, Rococo and Baroque.
Archaeological Museum- Showcasing the artistic and archaeological treasures from the Topkapi collections, this superb museum is housed in three buildings. Exhibiting classical sanctuary, ancient artefacts and Istanbul`s history, there are many other highlights of this museum which makes it a must-visit.
If you underestimated the night life of Istanbul city, then you will be surprised to get a tinge of it. The city`s night life and food culture is influenced by the Asian as well as European culture. To help make your days well spent and to brighten up your days the Asian districts of Caddebostan, Fenerbahce, Moda, and Kalamis all offer evening entertainment.
Ortakoy is a cute little neighborhood with coffee shops, shops, souvenirs, markets and the world`s only baroque-style mosque which is situated on shores of the Bosphorus. Visit Tarabya, Suada, Ortakoy, Bebek, or Kurucesme on the European side, with many venues open till late making your night to last still longer.
The city has an emerging music scene, with the establishment of festivals such as Istanbul International Music Festival. Venues such as Atatürk Cultural Center, the Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre and Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall, host live shows and concerts regularly!
The Akmerkez, Cevahir Mall and Metrocity are well known shopping venues located in this amazing city. Various cultural events also take place in city throughout the year, which can be a pleasure to watch for both children and adults. Tourists can also pay a visit to Ottoman bathhouses, amongst which Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam is a popular choice.
The Spice Bazaar market that was constructed in 1660s, displays vividly colored spices alongside jewel like lokum, providing eye-candy for the thousands of locals and tourists who visit the city every day.
Our holiday packages to Istanbul give you a fair chance to try the delicious Turkish cuisine. Feast like a Sultan on fabulous traditional cuisine or you can also try offbeat fusion delicacies. For many people Turkish cuisine means a kebab. Marinated and minced meat is served with a range of edible salads and sauces that make for a flavorsome meal or a light snack in the middle of the day.
Exquisite seafood is served regular and is something recommended by every traveler. Black Sea region`s cuisines uses fish extensively. You can find some of the most popular restaurants on Kumkapi. The place has a small pedestrianized area which is perfect to take a stroll around.
Turkish meals are generally soupy, consisting of some kind of stock or stew. Beyoglu, Kadikoy and Sultanahmet are the districts for heavenly food. Aside from western food presented amply as an alternative, there are numerous eateries specialized in specific cuisines.
Breakfast is the most important meal in Turkish culture. The breakfast habits of Turks are different than the Europeans. Coffee is replaced with tea and sliced cucumbers and tomatoes are a must. White bread is preferred over brown bread. The restaurants not only serve food but also live entertainment too to ensure the travelers go back to their home with a longing to come back.
Turkish is the main language which is most widely spoken throughout Istanbul. It is also the official language of the Republic of Turkey. English is also widely spoken and understood by the locals and the signboards, restaurant menus are in English too. For those who can`t speak or understand English or Turkish can reach out to the ‘tourism police’ in the main holiday hotspots.
The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira from 100TL notes to 10 kuru coins, but apart from Scottish notes Euros, Sterling and Dollars are accepted in all the major places. Turkish coins cover everything up to 1 TL, with notes starting from 5 TL. Major credit and debit cards are also widely accepted. You can also avoid individual transactional fees by withdrawing cash from an ATM.
Visitors seeking entry to Turkey need to apply for an E-visa which allows staying in the country for three months. Generally there are two types of tourist visas –a single entry and a multiple entry visa which allow single entry and multiple entries to the country. Earlier you could purchase a visa upon your arrival at the Istanbul airport counter by providing all the required documents, but since 2014, visitors need obtain their visa electronically after entering required information and making payment by credit card. After successful application, e-Visa is e-mailed to the applicant.
Owing to its geographical location, the climate of Istanbul is considered as borderline Mediterranean climate, oceanic climate as well as humid subtropical climate. The city`s diversity, size and location along with its coastline results in microclimates. The summer months range around 29 degrees and rainfall is rare. The city has high humidity, which sometimes reaches to 80% in the mornings. Winter is cold in Istanbul leading to fog that sometimes also disrupts transportation. The temperature dips to 1-4 degrees in winters, while spring and autumn experience mild temperatures, but are unpredictable.
Istanbul`s main airport is Istanbul Ataturk Airport. The Ataturk Airport is Europe`s third busiest airport, after Paris Charles de Gaulle and London Heathrow. There are regular flights to numerous cities across the globe, such as Athens, Rome, Toronto, Paris, London, Seoul, Dubai, Cairo, Singapore, Moscow, New York, etc. The city has one more airport on the Asian side which is called Sabiha Gokcen International Airport.
If you want to travel onwards by air to any major city in Turkey, there are many connecting flights from Istanbul. Turkey has an airport of its own. There are shuttles which are available from the airport`s exit gates, along with public transport routes to Taksim and Kadikoy.
If you are familiar with the city or know about how to get toy our destination, then you can board on subway which departs from the airport. After reaching Istanbul, you can switch from subway to tram to go ahead with your journey. But if you are travelling to Istanbul for the first time, we will definitely recommend you to hire usual taxis that are easily found outside the airport.
Other Transport Options
Apart from flights, you can reach Istanbul by train or cruise ship. The journey by train is not a straight-forward journey but those who know how to have a good time are going to enjoy it. The train departing from London will take four days to arrive in Istanbul, passing through different regions and offering panoramic views.
Istanbul has a wide selection of private and public transportation. Due to its location at the border of Europe and Asia, it is often referred to as the ‘crossroads’ of the two continents. The transport network is excellent and well developed, which offers amazing connectivity.
The city of Istanbul is well-connected by public as well as private buses which are owned by iETT. The city now has a system of long hybrid buses known as Metro bus, which was introduced recently. The bus has separate lanes which help reducing the travel time considerably. The buses have good service and they run for 24 hours a day.
There are two tram lines in Istanbul which operates between 6 am and midnight. The tram system is called the T1 tram. Both of the lines serve several tramway stations across the city, such as Mithatpaşa, Akşemsettin, Zeytinburnu, Seyitnizam, etc. The T1 also links up with the M1 Metro system which helps those heading to Ataturk Airport. Apart from trams and trains, there are funicular railways running underground between Karakoy and Beyoglu. The city`s underground metro system is functional and very efficient. It consist of five lines and there are some more under construction. The system connects most parts of the city.
Taxis or cabs in Istanbul offer the most comfortable and economical way to get around in the city. If you want to save money, the shared taxi costs even lesser. Most of the drivers can speak and understand Basic English. Although they stick to meter rates, one must be aware of drivers who try to negotiate for a fixed rate. City-based taxis can be identified by their distinct yellow color. App-based services such as Uber are also getting popular.