Straddling both Europe and Asia, Istanbul has much to offer travellers from around the world. Turkey’s largest city is full of ornate houses of worship, palaces and ancient bazaars. Discover its unique charm!
Famed for its architecture, this 6th-century Byzantine masterpiece is Istanbul’s most iconic sight. Its dome was considered a revolution in the history of architecture. The building that stands today was actually the third church to be built on this site. The original 4th century structure was built by the first Emperor, Constantine the Great. It was once a house of worship that served several religions. It started out as a Greek Eastern Orthodox basilica, then it was converted to a Roman Catholic Church. It then served as a mosque from 1453 until 1931, before becoming the secular museum in 1935.
This great structure features decorative mosaics depicting various religious scenes. Five sultans and their families rest at the southeast corner of Aya Sofya. The tombs date from as early as 1574.
Photo: Mehmet Cetin, Shutterstock
How to get there:
Take a look at the flight deals to Istanbul:
- JUNE! Cheap flights from Belgrade to Istanbul for €48! (checked bag included) >>
- Istanbul and Seychelles in one trip from London from £406 >>
- Turkish Airlines flights from New York to Tel Aviv, Israel for $546! 2 in 1 with Istanbul for only $20 more >>
- Cheap flights from Chicago to Aqaba (Petra), Jordan for $462! 2 in 1 with Istanbul for $493 >>
- Turkish Airlines peak season flights from Copenhagen to Zanzibar for €387! 2 in 1 with Istanbul for only €20 more >>
Where to stay:
We encourage you to stay at 5* Hilton Istanbul Bakirkoy for just €86 per night in a King Room or €205 per night in a luxurious 260 sq. m. Presidential Suite. This 5-star hotel offers a number of amenities including a seasonal outdoor swimming pool and free WiFi. The property is set 2.9 km from Sinan Erdem Dome. Abdi Ipekci Arena is 3.3 km from the hotel. Area attractions also include Suleymaniye Mosque and Grand Bazaar. Expedia All rooms at the hotel come with a seating area. Rooms include air conditioning, a desk and selected rooms include a balcony.
You can also choose 4* Hotel V Plus Taksim with very good reviews. Located in the Beyoglu district in Istanbul, 200 m from Istiklal Street, this 4-star hotel features air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi throughout the property. All units include a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. You will find a kettle in the room. Extras include slippers and free toiletries.
What to do:
Stroll through the streets of Istanbul and simply observe daily life here.
Explore the Dolmabahçe Palace or enjoy shopping in the Grand Bazaar. 5,000 shops make it one of the largest indoor marketplaces in the world.
Walk along the oriental streets of Sultanahmet District and try some traditional Turkish food.
Visit Galata District, housing many of the nightlife venues of the city. Visit Taksim Square, a vibrant, modern area full of shops, restaurants and bars. Admire a panoramic view from Galata Tower and visit its café, restaurant or a night club, reached by elevator in the nine-story building.
Discover Vedat Tek House, the eclectic home of a leading Turkish architect.
Take a Bosphorus sightseeing cruise.
Rejuvenate your body in a hamam. Among the oldest are the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam and Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam.
Head to Miniaturk, a miniature park boasting 100 models of buildings completed in 1/25th scale.
Touring Istanbul’s museums could keep history buffs and culture hounds busy for weeks. Istanbul Archaeological Museum contains more than 1 million objects from civilizations around the world, including such precious artefact as the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great. Other interesting museums include the Ural Ataman Classic Car Museum, Rahmi M. Koc Museum and the Museum of Innocence.
Step off the beaten tourist path and visit the Chora Church with beautiful Byzantine art. Its magnificent mosaics and frescoes date back to the days of Constantine.
The archipelago of nine car-free Princes’ Islands is an excellent getaway from the city.
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