Spanning the two continents of Europe and Asia, home to a population of more than 14 million people, and with enough historical sites to keep any person busy for several lifetimes, Istanbul is as stunningly beautiful as it is unique.
Bringing together elements from Byzantine, Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Turkish civilizations, Istanbul has evolved over centuries into a city of great cultural significance. As well as its popular historical and religious sites, the city has a wide range of contemporary museums, art galleries and musical talent. The energy and creative spirit is palpable.
But Istanbul is a city of extreme contrasts. From the fabulously wealthy to the very poor; the traditionalist to the liberal; from glitzy shopping malls to backstreet markets, Istanbul encompasses the good, the bad and the very beautiful.
And beautiful it surely is. Sprawling across four different waterways, Istanbul is literally surrounded by water, making it the perfect place to explore by boat. Whether you wish to cross from Europe to Asia, to cruise along the Golden Horn or Bosphorus Strait and onto the Black Sea, or to visit the Princes’ Islands or the nearby city of Bursa on the Sea of Marmara, there’s no more refreshing way to see the city.
Not sure where to go? Sultanahmet is at the historical heart of the city on the Eminönü Peninsula and is where most visitors come to experience some of history’s most famous sites including Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome.
Opposite Eminonu on the Golden Horn is Beyoglu, the modern entertainment centre of Istanbul, while on the other side of the Bosphorus lies the equally intriguing and less visited Asian side of Istanbul, which includes the suburbs of Kadiköy and Üsküdar.
There is something for everyone in Istanbul. So grab yourself a glass of çay (tea), and get ready for Istanbul!