Situated on the Bosphorus Strait, which separates Europe and Asia, Istanbul straddles ancient and modern, with great history, trendy spots, warm people and plenty to explore. You’ll be spoilt for reasonable shopping and eating choices, too.
- Walk the old Sultanahmet area, with its fairytale domes, minarets and cobbled streets.
- Explore the nightlife in the entertainment area of Beyoğlu, Karaköy and Galata.
- Wonder at the magnificent Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia or Aya Sofya).
- Imagine wearing all that jewellery at the Topkapı Palace.
- Visit the Blue Mosque and hilltop Süleymaniye Mosque.
- Shop till you drop at the huge Medieval Grand Bazaar.
- Take a boat ride across the Golden Horn.
- Dine on flavoursome local dishes at a rooftop restaurant.
- Unwind at a Turkish bath.
Sharpen your negotiating skills (it’s expected) and then shop up a storm on well-priced carpets, leather, antiques, clothes, jewellery, inlaid boxes, wooden carvings and spices. The Turkish delight is also wonderful, but best fresh and on the spot, although you won’t be sorry if you carry some home.
Looking for more great travel destinations? Check out our review of Copenhagen!