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Old City Sultanahmet
0.2 miles from downtown
Begin your adventure in Sultanahmet Square: the gateway to the historic center. In Topkapi Palace, Byzantine artifacts shine proudly in the display cases. Hagia Sophia’s mosaics are time-worn, reflecting the history of a space that has been both mosque and church across 1.5 millennia. Funky bars and cozy cafes summon you to come enjoy a drink.
Places to stay from $6 a night
2 miles from downtown
Street culture, energetic cafes and antique stores with unique treasures await in this cosmopolitan district. Fashionistas will have a field day at the boutiques on Istiklal Avenue. Concerts, movie theaters and exhibition centers provide family-friendly entertainment, and the trendy clubs and bars bring out the glamourous after dark.
Places to stay from $6 a night
4 miles from downtown
Ortakoy’s residents are youthful and cosmopolitan. Among the swathes of modern art galleries, you'll find eateries tempting you with delicious local delicacies. One of the area's oldest buildings is the Turkish Bath, followed by the neo-Baroque Ortakoy Mosque. Take a cruise across the Bosporus, or shop for trinkets at the emporiums.
Places to stay from $19 a night
3.7 miles from downtown
To stay in Kadıköy means immersing yourself in traditional Turkish culture, and it’s a fast ferry ride from this residential district to the city’s prime attractions. Elaborate wooden houses that creak with the passing of time, and remnants of the Roman Empire await as you wander the streets. Indulge in mouth-watering Turkish Delights from Akustik Market.
Places to stay from $10 a night
3.9 miles from downtown
Fragments of the Ottoman Empire remain in this district on the coast. Picnic or play in the flower-filled groves of Yildiz Park, followed by a walk to Ortakoy – inviting cafes by day and plush clubs by night. Salute the sea at the Turkish Naval Museum, see and be seen in trendy Bebek and Kurucesme, or crown your day at Dolmabahce Palace.
Places to stay from $11 a night
3.3 miles from downtown
Sisli is a large district on the European side of Istanbul, near the Bosporus Bridge. A mix of mosques, churches and synagogues make the area eclectic. The Trump Towers and Cevahir Shopping Mall are reminders of the growing tide of commercialism sweeping through the area. The narrow streets of Nisantasi are loaded with boutiques and galleries.
Places to stay from $8 a night
1.9 miles from downtown
Take a decent pair of walking shoes to navigate the 3.4-mile stretch atop the 8th-century City Walls of Constantinople. Make sure to spend some time at Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque, a medieval learning center that houses painstakingly detailed mosaics. The area maintains its scholarly nature, with many cafes and student haunts.
Places to stay from $12 a night
0.8 miles from downtown
There’s a sort of haze around the palaces, towers and gardens around Beyazit Mosque, giving the feeling of being lost in time. The mosque has stood proudly since 1506 and weathered many storms over its cut-stone exterior. The Grand Bazaar is filled with the sights, smells and sounds of an authentic Turkish market.
Places to stay from $22 a night
6.9 miles from downtown
The Asian side of Istanbul lives on the edge of the past and present. Kadıköy is a mix of scents and sounds; in Moda, buy tapas-style food from a quirky street vendor, then wander past tattoo parlors and street art for a live exhibition of urban Istanbul flow. Buy branded clothing on Bagdat Avenue, then dine out in style.
Places to stay from $9 a night
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.
From $7 per night
From $17 per night
|Most popular time to visit||July-September|
|Cheapest time to visit||February-April|
|Local currency||€ 1 = $1.11|
|Average weekend price||$84 per night|
|Average weekday price||$89 per night|
|Average stay||2 nights|
My first trip was an extended 38 hour layover courtesy of Turkish Airlines. But this, my second trip, was a week for business (so I was in meetings for 5 solid days). Istanbul is a fascinating, exotic, incredible city. I hope to stay for 10 days or more when I come back, just to make a dent in all I want to see in the city. I recommend doing a hammam with a friend; I recommend planning to spend at least 4 hours at the Topkapi palace (I could have spent more!); I recommend...everything. To my American (but well-traveled) mind, it is jaw dropping on every block. The people are warm, friendly and cosmopolitan. I'm a woman who travels alone most of the time, and I felt as safe as I would in an major US city. I did not wear a headscarf (except in religious buildings) and it was fine. There's a LOT of shopping and a LOT of great food, but even more, such an incredible cultural experience! Highly recommended.
This city never sleeps and there is a lot to see and do and food is amazing. Make sure you have at least four, five days or a week in your hands to see more than just main tourist attractions. Stay at The Local and ask for room with balcony
Enjoy Istanbul: Eat Turkish Delight, enjoy the walking closeness of Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. If a small shop owner invites you into his shop, don't go in even at the risk of being mildly rude. Watch out for anyone who offers you anything for "free" even a guide to "practice his English." Experience a Turkish bath and respectfully watch a swirling dervish demonstration. Learn how to use the downtown tram for transportation from Grand Bazaar to port Spice Bazaar. They have both gone commercial since the 70's, but the architecture is still there. Soak in the exoticness of being on the Bosphorus and hop between continents. Expect even the new airport to be a chore and don't buy any liquor from duty free in a previous destination because it will be confiscated, most likely just before you get on your flight so you can complain only by missing your flight.
Amazing city. Incredible food, incredibly friendly people, great, lively vibes and good bars. Love the architectural and cultural mix between Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Incredibly amount of culture and history to explore. Great location and geography right by the Bosphorus between the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Highly recommend.
Easy access to major sites. Food is wonderful people very friendly. Very clean city . I felt safe everywhere. It was a little bit tedious with men trying to sell or have you visit their store but were good natured at being rejected. I just said not shopping today with a smile I found the market behind the grand bazaar to be incredibly inexpensive. Products seem to be grouped by catagory. A bit overwhelming for me personally there is really a lot to look at. I especially liked that my lodging was so close to everything that I was able to return to hotel for a little rest in between
Istanbul is a beautiful city for all seasons but Spring and Fall it's becoming unique. Except taxi drivers, everything is amazing in Istanbul (The best way for transportation is subway or to use electronic taxi apps like uber, bitaksi or iTaksi apps in Istanbul).
From $46 per night 9.6 Exceptional 166 reviews
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From $172 per night 9.6 Exceptional 350 reviews