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Istanbul, where East meets West...

This unique city is split into two continents by the Bosphorus River, with half in Europe and half in Asia offering an amazing fusion of history and culture

Istanbul - the European Capital of Culture

Istanbul has been given the title of European Capital of Culture in 2015, and it is the 5th most popular tourist destination in the world. Istanbul is a cultural and historical road of discovery where East meets West and was the capital of Turkey for more than 16 centuries. It was the final point on the legendary Silk Road linking Asia with Europe, and the merchants liked it so much that many of them decided to stay, which gave the city its cultural diversity we know today.  

The city is truly beautiful, featuring Byzantine and Ottoman architecture everywhere you look. Whether you are staying in the historical district of Sultanahmet or the modern district of Taksim, Istanbul offers something for everyone. Friendly locals, amazing food, and a multitude of historical and fascinating places to visit means that you'll need at least 3 to 4 days here to truly see the city, feel immersed in the culture and see the main sites of interest. Just make sure you take some time to explore the network of narrow back streets, as you’ll find some brilliant restaurants, boutique shops, street stalls and definitely some bargains!  

By night, Istanbul transforms into a wonderfully-lit myriad of cafes and bars surrounded by the sweet smell of apple shisha and expertly cooked cuisine. The vibrant atmosphere of Istanbul at night is one of the best things about the city. The Blue Mosque illuminated at night is an awe-inspiring sight and one you definitely should not miss, as well as the nearby Sultanahmet Park’s magically ambient dancing fountain. Evening river cruises along the Bosphorus are very relaxing and perfect for a romantic dinner. There’s always plenty of entertainment at night, including whirling dervish shows, live bands and trendy rooftop bars, so it's easy to see why Istanbul is regarded as one of the greatest cities in the world when the sun sets behind the minaret skyline. 

From seeing the sun set over the Bosphorus with the many minarets in the foreground, tasting the delicious Turkish cuisine at some of Istanbul's fine restaurants, shopping ‘til you drop in Taksim Square, enjoying a freshly-made simit from a street stall whilst walking down the narrow streets and haggling for spices at the Grand Bazaar. Istanbul is truly a city of wonder. 

Things to Do in Istanbul...

It is very easy to get around Istanbul and see the sights using the local tram network, buses, taxis and metro trains. You should definitely set aside a few hours to go on a Bosphorus river cruise and take in the sights. As you sail down the river you will see a lot of historical sites of interest along the way, including the Galata Tower, Blue Mosque and Dolmabahçe Palace. The famous with its 336 underground columns are well worth a visit. This architectural wonder used to supply the city with water as far back as the 6th Century. Visit the Grand Bazaar built in 1461, which is one of the world's oldest indoor markets, and of course, you need to visit one of Istanbul's most famous landmarks, the Blue Mosque, built in the 17th Century, and still an active place of worship today.