This former European Capital of Culture is as exotic and exciting as its name suggests. A colourful, cosmopolitan and vibrant global metropolis, Istanbul has been the capital to four empires, any one of which would have been enough to book it its place in the pantheon of the world’s most significant and oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe.
The legacy of times past and the city’s strategic location where east meets west make Istanbul a truly enthralling place to explore. A city where history has been made and continues to be made at every turn. The imperial Byzantine Hippodrome, the Column of Constantine, the Blue Mosque (the Sultan Ahmed Mosque), Topkapi Palace, the iconic Aya Sofya and the Valens Aqueduct that lines Istanbul’s hills provide visible reminders of the impact made by the Ottoman Empire. For a contemporary take on the city, don’t miss the area north of the Golden Horn. The districts there may have fewer tourist sites, but they are the go-to places for shopping, wining and dining, or just a great night out.
And talking of food, as well as enjoying a typical Turkish meze, be sure to check out the historic seafood restaurants both in the city and nearby Princes’ Islands. If you have a sweet tooth, dare to delight your taste buds by stopping at one of Istanbul’s many confectioners. And if it all gets too much, recharge yourself at a traditional Turkish institution – the hammam, or Turkish bath – before heading into an Istanbul nightlife that won’t disappoint.