Istanbul has been an energetic, busy metropolitan for centuries. Strategically situated at the meeting point of two continents, Istanbul continues to evolve as one of the most diverse cities in the world.
With a population of 15 million, Istanbul is culturally diverse. In this multiethnic city, people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions are able to live together in harmony. We rounded up the top reasons why you should visit this sprawling metropolis.
Istanbul has a rich history. It is nearly impossible not to be drawn by its fascinating past. Standing in between Europe and Asia, the strategic location of Istanbul has enticed many pillaging armies and empires in the past centuries. In fact, the city has served as the capital of some of the biggest and most powerful empires—the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Latin Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Today, the remnants of these empires still stand and are open to the public. You can take a walk around the Dolmabahçe Palaces in the Beşiktaş district, once the Ottoman Empire administrative centre, and be taken back to the time when sultans rule the city. There are guided tours in different languages so be sure to include the palace, among many other sites, in your itinerary.
You’ve probably heard it before—Istanbul is a city of contrasts. When you visit, it will soon be apparent that this city has many sides to it. As the megalopolis links the West to the East via the Bosphorus Strait, the influences from both continents can be seen all around the city. Here, the remnants of the city’s past coexist with the more modern present featuring skyscrapers and busy streets.
One moment you are marvelling at palaces and mosques, another minute you may be gazing at impressive high-rise buildings. It is easy to develop an appreciation for Istanbul’s ancient architectural wonders. But modernization has allowed these places to have amenities for those that choose the city as their holiday destination.
The unique mixture of cultures in Istanbul can be seen in its bustling food scene. If you are a tourist, expect to have a wealth of options when it comes to dishes. Of course, the typical Turkish tasty dishes should be a must on your list. From the classic shish kebab to the savoury flatbread Gözleme, flavorful apple tea, and sweet baklava, you will not run out of mouthwatering local dishes to try. Meanwhile, as a testament to its global city status, you can conveniently find restaurants serving Japanese, Indian, American, Thai or fusion cuisines. If you have the time, you can even take short-term cooking classes and learn how to prepare traditional home cooked Turkish dishes.
If a well-spent day on a holiday for you involves fun partying at night, then you’ll feel at home in Istanbul. With a population of 15 million people and a constant influx of tourists from all over the world, the city is well equipped when it comes to entertainment. There is something for almost any taste—nightclubs, bars, pubs, restaurant lounges, private venues and more. There are also different hot spots for every season. If you are going to the city during summer, don’t miss out on rooftop bars overlooking the city. On the other hand, lively underground, intimate clubs replaces the open-air venues come wintertime. Either way, you can expect an excitable crowd, lively music and amazing atmosphere.
As you know, we at CLB Global Travel love to include museums and galleries on the list of places one must visit while travelling. Why? Because visiting these structures allows one to have a glimpse of a city or country’s history and culture. Istanbul serves as home to Turkey’s most important ancient artworks and artefacts. The city has once been deemed as the European Capital of Culture back in 2010.
Here is a list of the museums you should include in your itinerary if you’re an art enthusiast:
Istanbul has plenty to offer shoppers with different budgets. Want to splurge? Visit the Nişantaşı neighbourhood and purchase goods from luxury brands and well-established local designers. Are you looking to add a unique piece for your antique collection? Explore the streets of Çukurcuma Caddesi for a trip down memory lane and a possible score. Whatever your shopping desire is, your visit to Istanbul is not complete without visiting the streets of the famous Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s biggest covered markets.
One of the main perks of working with a dedicated travel consultant is that we can create a holiday specifically tailored for you. Be it a quick city break, a long vacation, a romantic getaway or a family trip, we have your back! Get in touch if you want a quick quote. Simply email [email protected] or call +44 (0) 7484 703 647.
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Charles is a world traveler having lived in 44 states and 11 countries and traveled to dozens more. He and his wife spend time between London, Ireland, Canada, and the Philippines.