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Exploring Istanbul

Cliché or not, Istanbul really is the city where east meets west. An exceptional mix of the ancient and contemporary – an experience not to be missed.

This is the junction where Asia meets Europe and it was no accident that three successive great empires chose Constantinople, as it was then named, as their capital. The Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have left an indelible stamp on modern-day Istanbul with wonderful examples of the city’s vivid and colourful past to be found around virtually every corner.

WHAT TO DO IN ISTANBUL

The Old City
You are already in the SultanAhmet region of the Old City, with its labyrinthine streets and plethora of cultural and historic sites. These include the Blue Mosque, with its 21,000 hand-painted Iznik tiles, the huge dome of Haghia Sophia, the Imperial Treasury and the Topkapi Palace – the list is endless, and the exploration a joy.
The Istanbul skyline is a most remarkable sight. It is punctuated by thousands of minarets, both ancient and modern, that rise up the hillsides from the banks of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.

Beaches
The Bosphorus is, of course, a predominant feature throughout Istanbul and it is an absolute must to see the city from the water. One option is to take the 45-minute ferry across to the beautiful and traffic-free Princes Islands where exploration is by horse-drawn carriage or on foot. The numerous beaches are a wonderful surprise.

Walking
Although seemingly vast, as with many cities, the ideal way to Exploring Istanbul is on foot. Paths follow the banks of the Sea of Marmara along old city walls towards Galata Bridge where ferries depart to all points.

Crossing the bridge you climb through the winding streets to the ancient Galata Tower. This tower dominates the skyline and provides the most wonderful views across the city. The surrounding region is currently being regenerated at a pace and provides a fascinating insight into Istanbul life.

Culture & Nightlife
The city, though rich in ancient culture, is also extremely contemporary. It boasts restaurants to rank amongst the best in the world, streets full of shops of all varieties, a vibrant café music scene, frequent concerts, exhibitions of the highest quality and some of the most dramatically located nightclubs you will find, set on the banks of the Bosphorus.

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Exploring Istanbul