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About Istanbul

Including tips for the best time to visit Istanbul

Istanbul is a timeless crossroads of cultures, religions, and civilizations, the meeting point of Europe and Western Asia.

Greek, Persian, Byzantine, and Ottoman influences are all over the city to this day. The breathtaking Hagia Sophia stood as an ornate church for over 1,000 years before being converted into an Imperial Mosque, which it remained for another 500 years. There's also Topkapi Palace, an extravagant complex of courtyards, halls, and terraces with beautiful views over the Bosphorus Strait. Today, both structures are religious museums that draw in millions of visitors every year.

The Blue Mosque is another striking example of Byzantine-Ottoman blended architecture, with its domes, towering minarets, and blue İznik tiles covering the interior. For a full view of the mosque’s design, enter through the crumbling remains of a Roman-era hippodrome in Sultanahmet Square.

However, Istanbul’s oldest landmarks can easily be overlooked. Several hundred ancient cisterns lie deep beneath the ground where water was delivered from a local reservoir through 12 miles of aqueducts. The largest of these is the Basilica Cistern, which you can explore along raised wooden platforms.

Back on ground level, the Grand Bazaar will blow you away with its maze-like network of artisanal shops and cozy teahouses. Work up an appetitie while exploring, before grabbing a Dürüm wrap on a street corner, or some delicious meze in a bistro-style restaurant in Sultanahmet.

Tonight

From $18 per night

Next weekend

From $37 per night

Most popular time to visit October-December
Cheapest time to visit January-March
Local currency € 1 = $1.07
Language Turkish
Average weekend price $126 per night
Average weekday price $126 per night
Average stay 2 nights

Points of interest in Istanbul

Stay near the top sightseeing spots in Istanbul

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Istanbul reviews

What other travelers say about Istanbul

8.0

Wonderful and charming town with so much history that I did...

September 23, 2023

Wonderful and charming town with so much history that I did not know about. Romans! Greeks! Ottomans! Wowowow. It felt so modern and forward-thinking, which I’m so ashamed to admit is did not expect. Loved the combination of Eastern Europe and Islamic influences existing in harmony. The food is great even though I’m vegetarian. The people can be a bit stern but are very polite and helpful otherwise. The views of the water, the sunsets, the walks, the ease of the TRAM/ buses, the boreks… what a vibe. Highly recommend the yacht cruise of the Bosphorus and Yıldız parkı! And stop by Bebek or Besiktas or Ortakoy if yiu have the chance! Oh and get yourself some chai and sour cherry juice!

Preety
Preety United States of America
8.0

The city is a magic carpet ride.

September 23, 2023

The city is a magic carpet ride. Full of colour and noises and bustle. Aromatic coffee and the mouthwatering street food. Endless markets and beautiful mosques. Tasting Turkish delight and yummy baklava with a piping hot cup of tea is the perfect way to watch the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. The public transport operates seamlessly and makes getting around cheap and easy.

Karen
Karen
8.0

Istanbul is the great city with mixture of history and its...

September 23, 2023

Istanbul is the great city with mixture of history and its own charm. We used to live among ordinary people and it was unique chance to see the real Istanbul. Local people on the street were very friendly and helpful. What was negative was some taxi drivers try to cheat you. I would like to advice to ask how much it will cost for you before to take a taxi.

Andrey Smuraga
Andrey Smuraga Ireland
10

The city is beautiful, with many places to visit.

September 22, 2023

The city is beautiful, with many places to visit. People are kind. I just did not like the taxi drivers who did not use the taximeter and tried to exploit people. When I arrived in Istanbul, I exchanged money at an exchange office INSIDE THE AIRPORT and later I discovered that part of the money I received (TL 600) was fake money. It was really absurd that it happened in an office INSIDE THE AIRPORT. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed my stay in Istanbul.

Alexandre
Alexandre Brazil
8.0

Fantastic and vibrant city.

September 22, 2023

Fantastic and vibrant city. Amazing historical places to visit. Easy to get around on foot and a brilliant and very cheap tram service too. Friendly people, felt very safe throughout our whole stay. Lots of different areas to stay in so research it well. As with any large city accommodation ranges from basic to expensive so lots of choice to suit all budgets. Karakoy (where we stayed) was fabulous. Easy to get to main attractions but a real local feel with great coffee shops and restaurants without the heaving throngs of tourists in and around areas right by the main visitor attractions. So much to do and see - just beautiful!

Ingrid
Ingrid United Kingdom
8.0

Beautiful city full of culture history and amazing sites!

September 21, 2023

Beautiful city full of culture history and amazing sites! Shopping is as you can expect a major attraction! However, watch out for con artists. The Grand Bazaar is the biggest con. I bought two pairs of leather trainers and paid 90 euros each only to find out the trainers were made of plastic and of poor quality, but by then I forgot where the shop was! When you buy anything ensure you add the items into the bag! Otherwise what they seem to sell is not what they give/provide. Another red flag is taxi's they all want to rip you off! If you are aware of this then I can really recommend the city. It is rich in culture and the mosques/museums are filled with history. Truly mind blowing. The majority of people are lovely. Unless they think you wasting their time then they can turn quite nasty and rude, especially the old men! Temperamental when they cannot sell you anything. I have been twice and will continue to go to Istanbul as it is one of my favorite cities in the world! The more I go the more I learn of how NOT to get conned and simply enjoy what Istanbul has to offer! Well worth a visit.

Farana
Farana United Kingdom

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