Istanbul, the capital of Turkey and the country's largest city, is a beautiful metropolis that offers vacationers an unforgettable experience. More than 14 million people live in Istanbul and enjoy the city's pleasant spring weather. Spring is a great time to visit because you can avoid the summer heat and crowds. However, the best deals on Istanbul hotels are available in winter, so that is the time to go if you don't mind snow.
Istanbul is a city full of fascinating dichotomies. You'll see that both Eastern and Western cultures have a strong influence on its atmosphere and customs. The city's rich past also contributes to the variety of things to see and do; Istanbul served as the capital of four major empires, including the Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires.
In Istanbul, you will see Muslims, Christians, Jews, and devotees of other religions. Despite the diverse religious practices and cultural traditions of the city's inhabitants, many of them share a warm spirit that eagerly welcomes visitors.
How can you make the most out of your visit to this unique city? Use this guide to help you start planning your trip.
A trip to Hagia Sophia is essential for any visitor to Istanbul. This architectural marvel started out as a cathedral, served as a mosque for a time, and is now a museum. Go there to admire the towering spires, impressive dome, and intricate architectural details that make this one of the most beautiful structures in the world.
The Blue Mosque is another gorgeous building, known for the blue tiles that adorn its interior. Because it still serves as an active mosque, it is closed to non-Muslims during daily prayers, so you may have to wait a while before entering.
If you're a history buff, make sure you put a stop at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums on your itinerary. These three buildings house exquisite artifacts from the Ottoman Empire as well as other places and periods throughout history.
You might appreciate seeing the Basilica Cistern, an underground marvel and the largest cistern in Istanbul. More than 300 columns support it. It's a great place to go in the summer if you want to escape the heat and get a glimpse of a unique structure.
Like to shop? Istanbul's Grand Bazaar takes place daily, and you could easily spend an entire vacation exploring everything it has to offer. It covers 50 streets, and there are more than 5,000 shops on offer. Hundreds of thousands of people visit every day. The domed hall at the center of the bazaar is where you will find the most valuable items.
For a new perspective on the city, climb the Galata Tower, which offers 360-degrees views that will leave you breathless and reaching for your camera.
The variety of hotels in Istanbul offers accommodations for those who want to indulge. For a luxurious treat, stay at the InterContinental Istanbul, which boasts great views and a central location. Enjoy a delicious meal at one of the property's four restaurants, unwind with a delightful spa treatment, and ask the concierge for recommendations so you can enjoy every moment of your time in this gorgeous city.
Hotels in Turkey also include lodging options that make a good match for frugal travelers. Holiday Inn Istanbul offers a great value. From there, it is easy to hop on a train to get to the city's best attractions. If you're renting a car, you can leave it at the hotel and take advantage of the complimentary parking.
The Holiday Inn Istanbul Airport is a great option if your flight arrives late at night and you want a convenient place to spend your first night in the city. It is close to a couple of malls, too, so you can get started on your vacation shopping right away.
The Golden Horn, a large estuary, serves as an informal boundary line in Istanbul. If you stay south of it, you'll be in the historic part of the city. There are plenty of budget hotels there, as well as attractions such as Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The area north of the Golden Horn is a little more modern. Taksim, a popular neighborhood for tourists, is north of the Golden Horn.
You may find cheaper accommodations at Turkey hotels on the fringes of Istanbul or just outside its borders.
When you're traveling to Istanbul, you'll probably fly to Istanbul Ataturk Airport. You can rent a car at the airport. However, if you would prefer to take public transportation, you may take a bus or a sea bus. Taxis are also easy to catch.
Istanbul is a fascinating city that combines the beauty of different cultures and religions. The time you spend here will provide you with treasured memories for years to come.