Istanbul Travel Guide

Why? It is not only geographically that Istanbul straddles the strait between Europe and Asia; a holiday in Istanbul is where tourists can enjoy the best of both cultures, and it all adds up to plenty of Turkish delights. Travel to Istanbul and haggle in a bazaar in the morning for an exotic rug, then buy a designer outfit in a modern store in the afternoon; marvel at gilded mosques and then party the night away in a rollicking club.
When? The city enjoys hot, humid summers, and summer is the season most choose to travel to Istanbul. It is probably best to plan your Istanbul holiday for either early or late summer, though, to avoid the high season crowds and inflated prices. Winter is cold, wet and there is often snow, so holiday-makers tend to avoid travelling to Istanbul between November and February.
Who for? A holiday in Istanbul is ideal for anyone who wishes to sample the flavour of the East, while safely ensconced on the European continent, in a city where the familiar mod-cons of the west mingle happily with Arabian magic and mystery. Shopaholics will revel in the bazaars and glitzy stores, and history buffs can indulge in an orgy of sight-seeing and museums that reveal the romance of all the eras of this ancient city.
More Info: Discover the inside story of Istanbul by consulting our Istanbul travel guide, which will assist in planning a holiday in Istanbul and ensuring everything runs smoothly when you get there.

Topkapi Palace © jefield

The splendid city of Istanbul has many unique and fascinating features. It is the only city in the world reaching across two continents, with its old city in Europe and modern Istanbul situated in Asia, separated by the Bosphorus Strait. It is also unique in having had capital status during two successive empires, Christian Byzantine and Islamic Ottoman, and the legacy from both is visible in the modern city today.

Istanbul's location on the water made it a much coveted site as a commercial shipping port and military lookout, and as capital of the Roman Empire, Constantinople, as it was known, became extremely desirable as a centre of world trade, until Mehmet the Conqueror claimed it for the Ottoman Empire in 1453 and it became the imperial seat of the sultans. After the War of Independence the capital was moved to Ankara, but Istanbul still remains the commercial, historical and cultural heart of Turkey today.

The charm and character of Istanbul lies in its endless variety and jumble of contradictions. Its fascinating history has bequeathed the city a vivid inheritance of Byzantine ruins, splendid palaces, ancient mosques and churches, hamams (bath-houses) and exotic bazaars. Modern Istanbul exudes trendy bars and nightclubs, western boutiques, office blocks, and elegant suburbs. The call to prayer heralds the start of each day and the city comes to life with over 11 million residents forming a chaotic social and cultural mix of unscrupulous carpet merchants, wealthy shoppers, religiously veiled women and destitute beggars. Joining the noisy throng are over-awed tourists and those capitalising on the tourist trade.

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