Living up to its moniker of the ‘City of the World’s Desire’, Turkey’s largest city has become a popular destination for tourists from around the world. Serving as the capital of the Roman, Byzantium and Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople, has a fascinating history which is not only showcased in the city’s museums but also in its architectural heritage. However, the cosmopolitan city of Istanbul also has plenty of modern attractions such as fashionable shopping districts and a thriving night scene.
For much of the year, a return flight to Istanbul will cost less than £100. However, between April and August a return flight will cost you more than £100. August is the most expensive month to travel to Istanbul by far as during this month a return ticket will cost around £180. There are more than 100 flights to Istanbul a week and, on average, the flight from London to Istanbul will take around 3 hours and 40 minutes.
What to Do in Istanbul
When on holiday in Istanbul, there are plenty of fun things to do and attractions to visit. The rest of this guide outlines some of the highlights.
Situated in the heart of Old City as it has done for centuries, the Grand Bazaar is certainly a must-visit for anyone on holiday in Istanbul. The bazaar started out as a small covered market and today it has transformed into a large bazaar, encompassing more than 60 lanes and an excess of 2,000 shops. Try bargaining to get the best deal on a range of local goods. It is recommended that you allow four hours or more to fully explore the Grand Bazaar.
Tucked away behind the sea walls, the Patriarchal Church of St George dates back to the early Nineteenth Century and is a popular destination with tourists. The interior of the church is intricately and lavishly decorated with wooden icons and beautiful mosaics. There are plenty of treasures to see inside the church, such as the stunning patriarchal throne which occupies the centre spot of the nave and is decorated with ivory and mother of pearl.
Topkapı Palace is a stunning palace complex with a fascinating and colourful history. You should dedicate at least three hours to exploring the palace as not only is it a large complex, but there is so much to see in each room. Highlights of the palace include the Harem which used to home around 200 of the sultan’s concubines and eunuchs and the Fourth Courtyard which was the personal courtyard of the sultan and is adorned with pools, mosques and fountains.