Istanbul at a glance
Turkey’s biggest city and its cultural and financial centre, Istanbul stretches out over both sides of the Bosphorus, the narrow gap between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. A city full of juxtaposition, where innovation and new trends rub elbows with rich tradition and history. A fantastic city break destination, Istanbul is quickly becoming the world’s favourite place to visit thanks to its fascinating sites and the unique cultural atmosphere it provides.
An epic sense of history is brought to life in Istanbul’s old town, where bustling streets, well preserved 16th century architecture and Ottoman monuments combine with the muezzin’s call to prayer echoing over grand mosques and ornamental palaces. But there is much more to this city than historic sites.
Istanbul has a thriving café culture, boasts one of the largest, most impressive indoor shopping markets in the world and if you’ve still got energy after a day of haggling in the markets, the nightlife in Istanbul will take you all the way into the early morning hours.
No trip is complete without a visit to one of the many Turkish Baths and be sure to take a cruise along the Bosphorus, to see this wonderful city from a different angle.
Perfect if you’re looking for:
- Historic attractions
- Art and culture
- A bustling city break
Istanbul is a large city with a number of public transportation options. They have a public bus, tram, metro and boat services.
The Istanbulkart card is a great option if you plan to use public transportation for a couple of days. The card, which can be topped up, works for most transportation services and is a cheaper option for single fares.
Markets, bazaars, boutiques, malls – the shopping choices are endless in Istanbul! From upscale fashion and Turkish textiles to back alley trinkets and open air produce stalls, there is something to suit every taste in Istanbul.
The Grand Bazaar, known to be one of the world’s oldest and most popular shopping destinations, encompasses 60 streets and attracts up to 400,000 shoppers a day. With a history dating back to its opening in 1455 as a textile trading centre, the Grand Bazaar today lives up to its name, with over 3,000 shops selling everything from jewellery, leather goods and furniture to spices, ceramics and antiques.
Dining in Istanbul
Much like the city itself, Turkish cuisine is an eclectic mix of traditional, international and innovative cuisine. Whether your food experience is an on-the-go meal from a street vendor or a relaxed four course dinner from a rooftop restaurant, Istanbul has something to suit every taste and budget.
Not to be missed, Turkish coffee has not only become a popular part of Istanbul culture, it has also found a place on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. A special preparation method involving roasted and finely ground coffee beans that are boiled with sugar and sometimes cardamom creates a rich, unique flavour. Coffee is then poured into cups where the grounds are allowed to settle. Turkish coffee is often accompanied by the popular sweet, Turkish Delight.
Must-try local dishes:
- Hunkar begendi – chunks of lamb in tomato sauce served over a bed or creamy, pureed eggplant
- Simit – a round, baked bread often topped with sesame seeds that is similar to a bagel, but with a crispier texture
- Tavuk gogsu – a sweet, milk pudding with a gooey texture that is thickened by a process of boiling finely shredded chicken
Get your tailor-made city break itinerary
Osprey Holidays can create a fabulous city break to Istanbul designed completely around your needs. We can arrange whatever you need, including:
- All travel and transfers on days of your choice
- Accommodation from our handpicked range of Istanbul hotels, to suit your budget and requirements
Our award-winning team can provide expert advice and recommendations, from general questions to tiny details.
- Important information
Population 15,636,000 Languages Turkish Currency Turkish Lira Visa Information Not required for UK visitors
- Average temperatures
(monthly highs °C)
- Interesting facts
The best way to see the variety of architectural influences on this unique city is to take a cruise along the Bosphorus.
- Featured accommodation
- Distance from airports
Istanbul Ataturk 24 km Sabiha Gokcen 34 km
- Railway stations
Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal