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Turkey Europe
Turkey Europe

Istanbul

story by: Inspire Spain, Portugal, Greece & Turkey

      Istanbul really is a Turkish delight, an intoxicating mix of breathtaking architecture, a roller-coaster ride of history and a stunning setting combined with the Turks’ zest for life.

      Head for Sultanahmet, the historic heart of the old city and gaze in amazement at the domes of Aya Sofaya and the Blue Mosque. Dive underground into the spooky Basilica cistern and then brace yourself for the Grand Bazaar. There are 4000 shops in here and the locals are very keen to sell you something!

      While away an afternoon in the teahouse beneath the walls of the Topkapi Palace and count the ferries plying the Bosphorus and the ships sailing towards the Black Sea. At sunset the fishermen on the Galata Bridge head home just as Istanbul’s skyline is a glowing silhouette of domes and minarets.

      Istanbul Highlights

      TOPKAPI SARAYI (PALACE)
      Home of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years, The Treasury in the 3rd courtyard is amazing. A tip is to get there when it opens at 9am and go straight to the Harem. Only a certain number of visitors are allowed at one time, so getting there first avoids the queue.


      HAGIA SOPHIA (AYASOFYA)
      Said to be one of the great buildings of the world it’s a former Byzantine church, a former Ottoman mosque, and now a museum.


      THE BLUE MOSQUE (MOSQUE OF SULTAN AHMETI)
      One of the city’s premier sights it’s called the Blue Mosque because of its light blue interior tiles. You can visit at most times of day and it’s free. A tip is to avoid all mosques on Fridays as this is the Muslim holy day and mosques can be closed for lengthy amounts of time for prayers.

      GRAND BAZAAR
      Turkey’s largest covered market sells all kinds of things like beautiful Turkish carpets, glazed tiles and pottery, copper and brassware, leather goods, meerschaum pipes and alabaster bookends. Put your best haggling skills to the test.

      BOSPHORUS CRUISE
      By far the best way to view the city of Istanbul is by boat on the Bosphorus, the most impressive sights being along the southern shores. You’ll see Topkapi Palace, the Maiden’s Tower, the Selimiye Barracks (where Florence Nightingale worked), Dolmabahçe Palace, Yldz Park – Palace, the village of Ortaköy and the Bosphorus Bridge to name a few.

      TURKISH CUISINE
      Indulge in Turkish cuisine like stuffed vine leaves and sip tea in tulip-shaped glasses, or go for broke and tackle the national drink – raki or lion’s milk.

      HAMMAMS (TURKISH BATHS)
      For something a little different why not try a Turkish Bath. You’ll be pulled and pushed, rubbed and scrubbed to within an inch of your life, but you’ll come out feeling wonderful. Some baths are mixed gender and may not be suitable for the more modest of us.


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