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Istanbul really is a Turkish delight, an intoxicating mix of breath-taking 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 Ayasofya and the Blue Mosque. Dive underground into the spooky Basilica Cistern and then brace yourself for the Grand Bazaar. There are 3000 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 forms a glowing silhouette of domes and minarets.
Home of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years, The Treasury in the 3rd courtyard is amazing. 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 get there first to avoids the queues.
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.
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. Avoid all mosques on Fridays as this is the Muslim holy day and mosques can be closed for lengthy mounts of time for prayers.
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. Try out your haggling skills.
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.
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.
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.
Come aboard and discover this unique way to see the many bays, golden beaches and historical sites that make up the Southern Turkish coastline. Bodrum and Marmaris are 2 of our favourites.
Here's a taste of some of our favourite hotels and lodges in Istanbul, Turkey.
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Are you planning your next trip to Istanbul, Turkey? Want to learn more about this destination? Or looking for ideas and inspiration for your next holiday? Here is where you can find our featured articles on Istanbul.
This is just a taste of the information and advice we have available through our House of Travel consultants.
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