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Istanbul Travel Guide

Explore the country that is a blend of traditional & modern culture. Being among one of the oldest cities, Istanbul is home for some of the greatest Mosques, museums and other archaeological places. Istanbul acts like a bridge between Europe & Asia.

The country itself has a long and colorful history and Istanbul travel guide is filled with attractions. It has been home to the Selijuq, Byzantine, Mongol and Ottoman Empires and these have all had their influences on Istanbul. Rich in history and culture is what makes Istanbul the most popular travel destination. Istanbul tourism welcomes you with its charm and poise!

Best Time To Visit Istanbul

In general the climate is the same as the rest of southern Europe during the summer months. It is hot and dry most of the time. From June to September the temperature is the most highest and decreases gradually making January & February the coldest months.

  • Spring (April - June): The temperature starts rising up after the winters with the average high going upto 20°C  where as in the night the temperatures are usually colder going to 15°C. Spring is considered to be the tourist season for Istanbul where in the entire hotel rooms are usually priced higher. The best time to visit Istanbul, Turkey is in April when the weather is also littler moderate and is the season where in you can see the Tulips bloom. This gives a great view of the natural beauty of Istanbul.
  • Autumn (September - October): The weather in Istanbul doesn’t vary much and it remains pleasant, though you can encounter slight rainfall.
  • Summer (June - August): Mid of June to August are quite hot. Comparatively nights are little colder. There is hardly any rainfall during the summers so it’s majorly a very dry season. At this time most of the local crowds are out for vacation so one seeing a peaceful vacation can head over there in the summers.
  • Winter (November - February): Usually colder months with the temperature varying from 5-10°C. Rains, snow & storm are common in these months. Because of the winter the tourists footfalls are less so the hotel prices are relatively low which can be a good deal for a cheap accommodation in Istanbul.

How To Reach Istanbul

GET IN

  • By Air: The Ataturk International Istanbul Airport which is located in the European part of the Istanbul is 28kms from the main city center. It is well connected with all the major cities throughout the globe with frequent international & domestic flights to Istanbul. From airport you can avail public transport such as city bus, trams, cabs, metro & shuttle to reach the main city centre.
  • By Road: Located at a distance of 10 kms from Sultanahmet is the International Istanbul Intercity Bus Terminal. Buses are well connected to Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany & Middle east. Car can also be hired for pick and drop service to the airport & bus terminal.
  • By Train: There are trains which run from Istanbul to whole of Europe. There are two railway stations in Istanbul, Sirkeci Train Station which is in the European part and Haydarpasa Train Station which is on the Asian part.

Tourist Attractions In Istanbul

WHAT TO SEE

For the tourist who likes ancient architecture or religion there are an abundance of mosques and churches to visit all over the city. There are plenty of religious and historical things to see in Istanbul. 

  • St. Sophia’s Church – 1 hour: One of the most famous is the Ayasofa or Hagia Sophia, St Sophia’s in English. Built in the Byzantine period, it was a church for almost 1,000 years, then a mosque for over 400 and was turned into a museum in the nineteen-thirties.
  • The Blue Mosque Istanbul – 1 hour: The SultanahmetCamii, known in English as the Blue Mosque is famed for its blue ceiling tiles. Istanbul sightseeing can never be complete without a visit here.
  • Yerebatab Cistern – 30 minutes: The old water reservoir, built from recycled marble was started by the Emperor Constantine. It is now possible to walk through it. It takes maybe half-an-hour. There are also historical walks that can be taken seven days a week. They can be tailor made to your request and take as much time as you please.
  • Topkapi Palace – 2/3 Hours: The archetecturally magnificent former residence of the Ottoman Sultans is now a museum with many fine examples of porcelain, scrolls, carpets, murals as well as an extensive collection of jewellery and treasures.
  • Grand Bazaar - All day: Ignore the shiny modern shopping malls and head into the heaving narrow streets for an authentic Turkish haggle. Enjoy tea whilst being persuaded to buy a carpet and don’t leave without at least one helping of Turkish delight. Shopping in Istanbul is fun like none other!
  • Take in a ‘hammans’, a Turkish bath or smokers can try a nargile, the water-pipe. There’s no end of places to see and things to do in Istanbul.

Nightlife:

  • As you would expect of a cosmopolitan city, Istanbul offers a lot in terms of nightlife. There are bars and clubs to suit all tastes. Whatever music you prefer, you can find it in Istanbul. Punk, funk, rock, jazz and house are there for the asking. If you enjoy bar hopping, visit Kadife Street on the Asian side. Traditional Turkish bars, with traditional music, can be found in all neighborhoods.

Hotels & Restaurants In Istanbul

PLACES TO STAY

Istanbul hosts first class hotels from all the prestige chains; it’s just a question of choosing which view you would like. Alternatively, if you are looking for more reasonably priced accommodation, there is plenty to choose from. There are seven districts within the city and it is possible to find cheap accommodation in most of them.

In Harbiye, on the European side, a wide range of apartments and hotels are available to choose from, the same in Taksim. For the lower end and hostel-type accommodation it is best to look in Sultanamhet in the old city. There is even a caravan park out in the western suburbs. Where to stay in Istanbul is not a matter of worry!

PLACES TO EAT

Dining isn’t a problem, as there are so many restaurants to choose from. International cuisine, as well as local food, is easy to find. Istanbul is also a shopper’s delight. In the Nisantasi district there are upmarket shops mixed with fine restaurants.

Along Istiklal Street, near Taksim Square, the shops are both expensive and cheap. On the Asian side is BagdatCaddesi, where Turkish housewives shop. The Covered Bazaar sells all the wares you would expect from an oriental market.

Notable restaurants in Istanbul include:

  • Asitane – Dishes as served to the Ottoman Sultans.
  • Tarihi Sultanahmet-Koftecisi – local dishes enjoyed by local people.
  • Haci Abdullah – worthy for its authentic fast food.

Festivals & Events In Istanbul

  • Tulip Festival: It is said that Tulips were initially originated in Turkey. If you want to see blooming Tulips then Tulip festival which take place in Spring season is the best time to visit Istanbul.
  • International Istanbul Puppet Festival: In the Ottoman empire, puppet art was very popular which is now losing its charm. So to promote puppet art this festival is organized in the month of May in different parts of Istanbul.
  • Grease Wrestling: An event in which wrestlers are soaked in olive oil which attracts a lot of crowd in the month of July.
  • International Istanbul Film Festival: Takes place in the month of March & April showcasing new releases from Turkey and around the world.
  • Istanbul International Architecture and Urban Films Festival: Held in October.
  • Akbank Jazz Festival: Held in October.
  • Tüyap Book Fair: Held in October.
  • Efes Pilsen Blues Festival: Held in November.

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