Istanbul

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Living History

İstanbul’s strategic location has attracted many marauding armies over the centuries. The Greeks, Romans and Venetians took turns ruling before the Ottomans stormed into town and decided to stay – physical reminders of their various tenures are found across the city. The fact that the city straddles two continents wasn’t its only drawcard – it was the final stage on the legendary Silk Road linking Asia with Europe, and many merchants who came here liked it so much that they, too, decided to stay. In so doing, they gave the city a cultural diversity that it retains to this day.

Local Life

Some ancient cities are the sum of their monuments, but İstanbul factors a lot more into the equation. Chief among its manifold attractions are the locals, who have an infectious love of life and generosity of spirit. This vibrant, inclusive and expanding community is full of people who work and party hard, treasure family and friendships, and have no problem melding tradition and modernity in their everyday lives. Joining them in their favourite haunts – çay bahçesis (tea gardens), kahvehans (coffeehouses), meyhanes (Turkish taverns) and kebapçıs (kebap restaurants) – will be a highlight of your visit.

Top attractions in Istanbul

Planning Your Istanbul Visit

How many days?

Istanbul is a cartographical labyrinth with sights and experiences awaiting you round every corner. How long to stay depends on how immersed you want to get, but a week should be enough to cover the most famous attractions.

How to get from the airport to the city?

Havataş Shuttle Buses are available from outside the terminal and leave every half an hour for Taksim between 4:00AM and 1:00AM. Taking a taxi is, however, the most convenient way, and shouldn’t be more expensive than the shuttle service between a group of four. Be sure to ignore the hustlers inside the airport and take an official vehicle from the taxi rank at the terminal exit.

Where to stay?

The key touristic areas are Fatih and Taksim, and which to stay in depends on the nature of your stay. Fatih is the old town and home to many of Istanbul’s historic landmarks. Taksim, on the other hand, is modern and appeals more to those visiting the city to shop, dine, and party. Traveling between the two is simple, so don’t worry if you fancy hitting the dancefloors after the Hagia Sophia!

What people are saying about Istanbul

★★★★★ Excellent and our guide, Burak, was exceptional; thanks!

Long day but very well worth it. Once we arrived to the peninsular we had a enjoyable lunch then we were split off to our Gallipoli tour withour guide. Burak (freelancer guide) was execptional - his knowledge and information to share was well understood. The aspect to consider this event from the Turkish perspective was really well done, yet he had compassion for both sides and shared the stories of both to really explain this historical event. No bad news here all good and I can only say thankyou to "Crowded House Tours" for a fantastic experience and day.

Gallipoli Full-Day Tour from Istanbul reviewed by Gavin Peter

★★★★★ A great tour to visit all the major attractions

Our guide Caner was very knowledgeable and tailored the tour to our needs and interests. It was fantastic to have a fast pass service to visit the monuments, no need to stay in the long lines to enter. This is worth every penny.

★★★★★ very informational tour with a great guide.

A very fun day out with the family where we got to learn more about the history of the city. The tour guide was lovely and kind and made the trip very enjoyable.

Other Sightseeing Options in Istanbul

Want to discover all there is to do in Istanbul? Click here for a full list.

Top Hotels in Istanbul

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