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Istanbul - Where two continents meet

Istanbul has been one of Europe’s leading metropolises for almost 2000 years. It is one of the oldest cities in the world; proud and majestic, it is situated directly on the Bosporus, that famous waterway. Istanbul is old, and yet somehow also the youngest city in Europe – or should we now say Asia? – and has over 2000 mosques. The Yeni Cami (New Mosque) and Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) are both well worth a visit. A stroll through the lively bazaars, bartering, dining in exquisite restaurants, snacking on Turkish sweetmeats from the street vendors, and always the fabulous views of the Bosporus or magnificent old buildings – all this is Istanbul. Melancholy coexists alongside pulsating life. The city lives through its history, but it also surprises and impresses its visitors with its exciting lifestyle and galleries, museums, bars, restaurants and stylish clubs. A visit to the island of Burgazada is pure romance. «Crossing the Bridge – the Sound of Istanbul» by the German-Turkish director Fatih Akim is the perfect introduction to a visit to Istanbul.

City Facts

• Location
Most populated city in Turkey, situated on the Bosporus.
• Population
About 14 million
• Size
Approx. 5300 km²
• Public transport
A somewhat complicated system of underground, buses, commuter train network, trams and ferries.
• Climate
Mild, humid maritime climate. Temperatures often reach 30°C in the shade in summer. Winters are cool, with an average temperature of 4-5°C.
• Best time to visit
March to May. Although it’s usually still cool in the mornings, the city is ablaze with millions of tulips.
• Good to know
Always agree a price in advance before availing yourself of any service. Con artists are not unheard of in Istanbul.
• Nice to know
Istanbul was the capital of Turkey until 1923.
• Airport
Istanbul Atatürk; 24 km west of the city.
• Bus
The express goes to Taksim station every 30 minutes.
• Metro
Take the underground (Metro) to Zeytinburnu, and from there the tram downtown. The travel time is about 45 minutes, and it runs until midnight.
• Taxi
The travel time is normally 25 minutes, but depending on the volume of traffic it could be longer.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ISTANBUL

Istanbul's strategic location between Europe and Asia on the ancient Silk Road has made it one of history's most important cities. A list of its points of interest would be long enough to bridge the Bosphorus, so here's a top 10 to make your itinerary more manageable!

 

Hagia Sophia

In Hagia Sophia, the immense dome crowning this church turned mosque turned museum was an architectural miracle in its time, although it took a lot of trial and error to get to that point: it collapsed twice!

Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Also commonly known as the Blue Mosque, the fine İznik tiles adorning this magnificent structure may make it appear bluer than it actually is!

Dolmabahçe Palace

The glorious Dolmabahçe Palace dominates the European shoreline of the Bosphorus where it served as the key administrative center in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace, the one-time home of many Sultans, not only offers spectacular views of the city, but also houses treasures that make the Crown Jewels look like Claire's Accessories!

Galata Tower

As early as the 1600s, Ahmet Çelebi is said to have flown across the Bosphorus from the top of the Galata Tower. Most visitors will probably be content with the incredible views!

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest markets on the planet. A constant source of wonder, it's also one of the world's most visited places. Expect crowds at any time!

Süleymaniye Mosque

The stunning Süleymaniye Mosque was built for Suleiman the Magnificent by the great architect Sinan. If you're feeling peckish, Ali Baba across the road might be the best restaurant in town for Turkish beans!

Spice Bazaar

The Spice Bazaar otherwise known as the Egyptian Bazaar was created in 1660 and remains the place to go for spices, nuts, Turkish delight, and other divine tastes and smells!

Basilica Cistern

One of Istanbul's most unusual sights, Roman relics have been reappropriated by Byzantian builders to support this complex system that once brought drinking water into the city.

Maiden's Tower

Perched on top of a tiny islet in the Bosphorus strait, this historic lighthouse was once a watchtower. It now also serves as a popular restaurant and café with splendid views of the city's shoreline 

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