“If the world was a single state, Istanbul would be the capital.”
For millennia, Istanbul represented the gateway to the East, a land coveted by would-be conquerors and kings. In the 21st century, the city’s charisma endures, sustained by the remnants of Greek and Roman palaces, opulent Byzantine cathedrals and undulating Ottoman domes, by the spectacularly scenic Bosphorus Straits and by world-class shopping and dining.
Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city and the country’s undisputed cultural and financial centre. Istanbul offers a great deal in the way of history, culture, food andentertainment, in fact far too much to take in on a short city break. You will need to come back time and time again to truly see all that this atmospheric city has to offer and it’s a great city to visit as part of a twin-centre holiday.
Istanbul is a hot honeymoon destination which is quite famous for its scenic beauties, numerous shopping centers and vibrating nightlife.
If you’re looking for something completely different yet utterly familiar, a placed that is exotic yet inviting, Istanbul both maintains a veil of mystery and projects a life force that together, comprises a unique, 21st century cornucopia of ancient, modern, vibrant, serene, intimate, cosmopolitan and delicious treasures.
Some of Istanbul’s finest vistas are to be seen from the Bosphorus. If you have time it is well worth spending at least half a day viewing the sights and savouring the atmosphere. You can take a guided tour on a small boat, or Turkish Maritime Lines (TDI) runs a good value public ferry service which leaves two or three times a day and does the full round trip as far as Anadolu Kavagi, the nearest village to the Black Sea on the Asian side, and back to Eminonu. It is a charming place, known for its fish restaurants, and the walk up to the ruined fortress overlooking the village, is well worth it for the stunning views. As you leave from Eminonu you can benefit from some beautiful views back towards the old town with its evocative skyline of turreted roofs and minarets. As you head towards the Black Sea you will pass the Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and the 15th century fortresses built by Mehmet II, Anadolu Hisari and Rumeli Hisari. Also look out for the stunning wooden Ottoman mansions, many of which have been renovated and form some of the city’s most desirable residences. Even if you don’t have time for a Bosphorus trip just take one of the distinctive city ferries for a quick trip from Eminonu to the Asian shores and back – to Uskudar for example, just to admire the views of the old town.
The Princes Islands
Those who are staying for a little longer in Istanbul, should really set aside a day to visit these charming islands in the sea of Marmara, just off the coast of Istanbul. The picturesque scenery of wooded hills, charming beaches and authentic Ottoman mansions, combined with the tranquil atmosphere, make for a pleasant contrast to the city itself. Easily reached by ferry or hydrofoil, the ambience of the islands seems worlds away. Buyuk Ada, or “Big Island” is the most popular with visitors. No cars are allowed but you can take a trip in a horse and carriage to visit the Monastery of St. George.