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Istanbul

Where East Meets West

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is one of the coolest European and Asian cities. It is the only city in the world located in two continents, touching both Europe and Asia. Yet in parts it also has the look of a North African or Middle Eastern city, giving it the distinction of not being defined by any particular continent or region.

While standing at the crossroads of East and West, the city's breathtakingly beautiful landmarks also merge cultures and religions. The famous Hagia Sophia has been a church and a mosque, while remnants of the city's former incarnations as Byzantium and Constantinople are everywhere in this sprawling city.

While history may ooze from every street, Istanbul is a 21st century city mixing exciting contemporary attractions and designer shops with timeless monuments. It is also a modern metropolis with trendy cafes and clubs, which is a fascinating surprise to any visitor.

Spend a morning browsing the Grand Bazaar, and your afternoon in the Blue Mosque followed by a visit to the Istanbul Modern art museum. Then take the opportunity to dine in Asia and party back in Europe until dawn, with the Bosphorus providing picture-postcard views along the way.


Top 10 Sights and Attractions

  1. HAGIA SOPHIA, once the greatest church in Christendom, then a mosque, still one of the world's greatest buildings.
  2. The BLUE MOSQUE, the world's most famous mosque.
  3. Browsing the GRAND BAZAAR.
  4. A stroll down ISTIKLAL STREET.
  5. The spectacular YEREBATAN SARAYI CISTERN.
  6. Turkish and international contemporary art in the Istanbul Modern.
  7. The postcard-perfect views of ORTAKOY CAMII and BOSPHORUS BRIDGE.
  8. The marvelous DOLMABAHÇE SARAYI palace.
  9. Climbing the GALATA TOWER.
  10. Crossing the BOSPHORUS between Asia and Europe.

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Where to Stay

Look for the hotel or hostel that best matches your budget, type of trip or personality. Here you can guarantee a room but you do NOT pay anything at the time of booking. Payments are only made at the hotel and there are no booking fees. Most hotels allow cancellations with no penalty if done up to 24 or 48 hours in advance. You'll see that information at the time of booking and again in the confirmation email.

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Eating and Drinking

Nowhere else in the world can you dine with more views. Overlook the Bosphorus at a number of restaurants in Europe or Asia without ever leaving the same city, and enjoy contemporary Turkish dishes or international fusion menus. A good number of cafés and restaurants are found in the pedestrianized Istiklal Caddesi.

Shopping

The great bazaars and souks from ancient times are now replaced by state-of-the-art malls such as Kanyon with almost 200 shops of international and Turkish brands. But of course the Grand Bazaar is still there, although it's more of a tourist's sightseeing experience than an actual shopping destination. Look for a souvenir around its covered alleys, browsing through carpets, spices, fabrics, or jewelry, while for products you're more familiar with, head to the Nisantasi district. Its Abdi Ipekci Street is where the city's well-heeled population goes for their luxury brands.
Where both tourists and locals shop together is on Istiklal Caddesi, a pedestrian street known for its shops and cafés. It's a cosmopolitan street that should not be missed by anyone visiting the city, going from Taksim Square to the iconic Galata Tower.

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