The largest city and seaport of Turkey, Istanbul is home to majestic mosques and minarets that reflect its rich history
Literally straddling two continents – Europe and Asia – the contrasts and encounters that Istanbul offers can make a visit here feel like two vacations for the price of one. From imposing mosques and elegant minarets piercing the clouds on the city’s Asian side, to gleaming shopping malls, Michelin-standard restaurants and pulsating nightlife on the other side of the Bosphorus, this is a city that rewards a willingness to get lost and immerse oneself in the tapestry of local life.
The former capital of three illustrious empires – Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman – Istanbul is full of culture and history. Narrow alleyways echo of bygone times in the Old City around Sultanahmet, while Beyoglu and its surrounds provide the pulse of modern, metropolitan Istanbul. Sticking to these key neighbourhoods would be a mistake, however, when areas such as Karakoy, Nisantasi and Moda have risen in recent years to become destinations in their own right.
When to go
With steaming summers and chilly winters, the ideal times to visit are spring (April–May) and autumn (September–November), when the weather is fair and many lively outdoor events are taking place.
How to get around
Try to eschew the metro and tram systems where possible in favour of random wanderings on foot or – even better – by ferry, which offers the most tranquil and picturesque way to see the city.
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