The city of Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, is sprawled around the Golden Horn harbour in the northwest of Turkey. Istanbul sits on both the European and Asian side of the Bosphorus Strait, making it the only city in the world to span two continents. Its significant location has seen Istanbul thrive throughout history as a city of importance. Istanbul was once the capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantium Empire, the Latin Empire, the Ottoman Empire and is the largest city in Turkey today. With such a rich history to build on, modern day Turkey is a colourful metropolis where ancient Turkish baths are as much a part of the city landscape as world class shopping centres and giant sports stadiums.
Istanbul cruises disembark at the passenger terminal in Karaköy, located in central Istanbul.
Sights to See
Many of Istanbul's popular attractions revolve around the city's distinctive history and are located close by to Sultanahmet Square. From the square, start at the large and lavish Topkapi Palace. It was here that the Ottoman Sultans resided for approximately 400 years during their reign. Close by you can visit the Sultan Ahmed Mosque which is commonly referred to as the Blue Mosque due to the blue tiles that line the walls. To see modern Istanbul, head north to Galata or New Istanbul and stroll the streets of hip neighbourhoods.
What's for Lunch
To taste a range of traditional flavours, opt for a mezze where you can sample a variety of hot and cold dishes including meats, salads, cheese and bread. Make sure you have a few people to share it with.
If you see only one thing...
Hagia Sophia is Istanbul's most famous mosque turned museum and is regarded as the epitome of Byzantine architecture.
Test out your haggling skills at one of the city's bazaars by asking 'Ne Kadar'? Which means 'how much?' in Turkish.
Istanbul is a great place to purchase decadent antiques, leather pieces and gold jewellery.