Straddling the Bosphorus that runs right through it, Istanbul has long been seen as the place where Asia and Europe meet. As such there are a fascinating mix of cultures to be found in its lively streets and it is one of the largest cities in the world as 15 million people call it home. With so much for you to see and do, here are just some of the things you can’t miss out on when visiting!
No visit to Istanbul can ever be complete without stopping by Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, both of which lie just a stone’s throw away from each other. Hagia Sophia was remarkably built all the way back in 537 AD and was once an Orthodox Cathedral until it was converted into a mosque. Surrounded by trees, their minarets stretch towards the sky and the Islamic and Byzantine architecture on show is breathtaking to behold! They truly are two of the most majestic buildings in Istanbul and their lovely setting right next to the Bosphorus only makes them even more special to visit.
Within walking distance is another must-see attraction in Istanbul: the Grand Bazaar. This labyrinth of shops and covered streets is an intoxicating place to visit as people bustle past you and you really can buy anything you can imagine as there are over 4,000 shops for you to check out! Whether you’re after lamps and textiles or souvenirs and rugs, it’s a fun and festive market to visit, unlike any other in the world. Make sure to grab a Turkish coffee at one of the little cafes and just sit and watch the world go by!
Istanbul is full of world-class attractions and one of its most fascinating sights is Topkapi Palace which was commissioned by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1459. He ruled over his empire from the palace and the lavish and elegant rooms showcase all of the wealth and power that he accrued. The huge complex is home to some amazing art and architecture and so is definitely worth a visit when in the city.
Other than its incredible historical sights, Istanbul has everything from high-end shopping to pounding nightlife and of course it is renowned for its Big Three football clubs which Turkish fans are fanatical about! It is also home to a plethora of fantastic restaurants which serve up delicious food and eating dinner while looking out over the Bosphorus is an unforgettable experience.
While it is impossible to see all of Istanbul’s sights in just one weekend, you really can get a good feel for this friendly and vibrant city and it really does have something that will appeal to everyone!