The spectacular city of *Istanbul is where East meets West and ancient merges with modern. The city straddles the Bosphorus Strait, a thin ribbon of water that divides Europe from Asia, and its unique location adds to its considerable appeal. It's a great choice for holidaymakers of any age and major sights and attractions such as the Topkapi Palace, Taksin Square and the Hagia Sofia are legendary.
Known first as ancient Byzantium and then as Constantinople, the city that's known as Istanbul today is the most populous in Turkey. This huge metropolis is split into several districts including the trendy Beşiktaş and Ortaköy neighbourhoods on the European bank of the Bosphorus and the sprawling Asian Side that extends to the shores of the Marmara Sea. Truly a place of contrasts, travellers can discover the Sultanahmet-Old City area with its turrets and minarets or dance all night in trendy Beyoğlu nightclubs.
Not to be missed attractions like the Süleymaniye Mosque and the Galata Tower vie for attention with modern shopping malls and serene green spaces like Gülhane Park and Emirgan Park. It's a great city for family holidays too thanks to attractions like Istanbul Aquarium!
Things to Do
Whether you want stylish restaurants and glamorous nightlife or you yearn for historic architecture and world-class galleries, Istanbul ticks all the boxes.
For History Lovers
Explore world-famous landmarks like the Hagia Sofia, a former Greek Orthodox Basilica that dates from the 6th century AD; now a museum, it's the ideal place to discover the city's past. Or, visit the Topkapi Palace, an exotic 15th-century compound that was home to Ottoman sultans for 400 years.
A Great City for Shopping
Visit the Grand Bazaar, the world's largest covered market, or combine a shopping trip with a cultural outing at the Spice Bazaar. Sometimes known as the Egyptian Bazaar, traders sell every type of spice imaginable. Alternatively, head for modern shopping malls like Akmerkez, the most-awarded shopping centre in Turkey, or the iconic Palladium centre with its giant glass sphere.
All Ages Catered For
Spend the day learning about marine life and seeing thousands of species at Istanbul Aquarium or take a boat trip to the car-free Princes' Islands for pine groves, historic harbours and unique sights. Boats depart from Kabataş on the European side of the Bosphorus and from various piers on the Asian side including Kadıköy and Bostancı.
Calendar of Events
From music to shopping to... tulips! Istanbul has colourful, cultural events that will please everyone.
Tulip Festival. Tulips are an important motif in Ottoman culture and from April to May the city's parks and gardens are a riot of colour. Over 30 million bulbs are planted each year in locations like Gülhane Park, Yıldız Park and exquisite Emirgan Park.
Jazz Festival. International artists descend on the city for two weeks at the beginning of July each year. Concerts are staged at prestigious venues like Istanbul Modern and Harbiye Open-Air Theatre.
Shopping Festival. For a month, from the end of July, malls across the city put on fashion shows and various events.