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European Best Destination Istanbul

 

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ISTANBUL

The city of our dreams

In our ideal city, the city of our dreams perhaps, flows a river. The Bosphorus, river of eternal golden reflections, lively yet soothing for both poor and rich alike, tells the story of a great trading town, of conquests and discoveries, of emperors, sultans, poets, travellers, artists… Here time is constantly shifting between the European and Asian side where, so it seems, their souls still linger and where the breath of ancient and new civilizations burn with desire for the future.

 

In the city of our dreams, there are hills offering different perspectives ; it is a breathing city full of life, with a wide variety of topographies, neighbourhoods and atmospheres. Let us take you through these neighbourhoods : the historic district of Fatih with its beautiful mosques, the spice market, the Grand Bazaar, the district of Beyoğlu with neighbourhoods such as Besiktas or Cihangir with their more modern feel but where history has left many traces.

 

Add to this the beautiful Sea of Marmara and the several small islands of the Adalar district dominated by wooden luxurious buildings where cars are replaced by horse-drawn carriages and bicycles and where you can savour a peaceful day just a short ferry ride from Istanbul.

 

Then, there is the sun, exceptional cuisine, shopping, outstanding hotels, artistic treasures, the amazing hospitality and kindness of the locals. What a feast for the palate, the eyes and the soul !

 

Our promise : you will love Istanbul and it will sing in you for a very long time.

 

Welcome aboard !

Pictures of Istanbul

 

 

| THE BOSPHORUS

Bosphorus Istanbul

With more than 15 million people spread over 5,343 km2, Istanbul is one of the largest megacities in the world. The fastest, most enjoyable - and romantic - way to get an idea of this vast and diverse expanse, is invariably to take a cruise along the Bosphorus. Touts will try and sell you tickets for 15 or 20 euros. Pay a third of the price under the Galata Bridge and on the banks of Besiktas, where you can get your ticket for around 5 euros at official counters. You can opt for a two-hour or five-hour cruise as you wish. The shorter trip alone is packed with so much to see : the Dolmabahce Palace, the stunning Ortaköy mosque, the Rumelian Castle with its stunning views of the Bosphorus, Anadolu Hisari (Castle of Anatolia), the Küçüksu Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, the two bridges over the Bosphorus, magnificent 5 star palaces along its shores and the sumptuous villas and beautiful wooden houses. Enjoy the difference !

 

Tip: make as many stops as you like and pick up the next boat to continue your journey.


Bosphorus Five Stars Istanbul
Beylerbeyi Palace
Rumelian Castle
Cruise over the Bosphorus
Maiden's tower
Ortaköy Mosque
Ortaköy
Tapasuma Istanbul
Çengelköy İskelesi
Sumahan on the Water

 

 

SULTANAHMET, THE HISTORIC CITY

Sultanahmet Istanbul

The Golden Horn separates the south of Istanbul often considered the "old Istanbul" from the modern quarters of the city. At the junction of these two parts of the city is the famous Galata Bridge, a place not to be missed and, in many respects, the living touristic heart of Istanbul and a focal point of your stay.

 

Depending on what you wish to do and your ability to find your way around the area, you will tend to concentrate on the iconic locations rather than the area per se, but the notion of "neighbourhoods" will be, however, particularly useful if you want to move easily in the city, especially by public transport. Old Istanbul is quite simple to understand, bounded by the Sea of Marmara to the south, the Bosphorus to the east, the district of Beyoğlu in the north and the district of Zeytinburnu in the west.

 

Istanbul is rich in religious buildings and museums ; among the few absolutely not to be missed are the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Sultanahmet Mosque (The Blue Mosque), the Grand Bazaar, the Spice market, the Galata Bridge or the park Gülhane. The best known "postcard" Istanbul is a melting pot where different cultures and religions meet. This site offers priceless historical riches with its magnificent mosques and their unmistakable architecture of tranquil grandeur.

 

To move in this area take the tram and then walk back (3TL one way).

The Blue Mosque
Galata Bridge restaurants
Grand Bazaar Istanbul
Hagia Sophia
Spice market
Street food Istanbul
Gülhane Park
Topkapi Palace

 

 

|THE GOLDEN HORN

Galata Bridge Istanbul

The Golden Horn is a natural harbour that once housed the city’s shipyards. It is 7.5 km long and 750 meters wide. There is a large concentration of places of interest on both banks and we have grouped them in sections devoted to the old and modern Istanbul.

 

In this section we are particularly interested in the start of this Golden Horn with the Galata Bridge, as well as its end with the charming Eyüp neighbourhood and the café Pierre Loti. Loti was a famous French writer who fell in love with Turkey and with this place in particular on the heights of Eyüp cemetery on the foothills of the Golden Horn. It is not very easy to get to but you can access it by boat on a small more private cruise, by water taxi or simply by bus. In any case the friendly and exquisitely polite Istanbul’s residents will gladly help you find your way.

Eyüp district
Eyüp market
Eyüp Sultan Mosque
Galata Bridge Istanbul
Café Pierre Loti

 

 

ISTANBUL MODERN CITY

Istiklal Caddessi Istanbul

It would be wrong to describe the modern city of Beyoğlu (the word itself means "modern city") as being more "western" but it is of course remarkably different from the historical area on the other side of the Galata Bridge. A modern city limited only to high rise buildings and brand new gigantic malls would be of little interest, but Beyoğlu still bears the marks of a huge diversity of people and cultures which have crossed the land throughout its history; it is a breathtaking iconic city with a unique atmosphere, unique architecture and unique memories.

 

From Karaköy to Taksim you will discover the Galata Tower and its magnificent views across Istanbul, Tünel and its old tram and also a "Paris of the Roaring Twenties" rebuilt from scratch by the municipality. See the Istiklal Caddessi, a 1000 m long pedestrian street filled with modern shops and restaurants with a pretty little red tram adding a touch of nostalgia to the scene. The Cihangir with its San Francisco style feel offers a unique atmosphere and magnificent views of the Istanbul bridge and its illuminations. The district of Kabataş can be the starting point for many discoveries (cruise on the Bosphorus, crossing to the Princes islands, starting point of the tram and metro). In Besiktas you will will find the Istanbul of business and also of luxury with its palaces, 5 star hotels and luxury boutiques. Be prepared to be enchanted and smitten by the many facets of a great beautiful atmospheric city.

Taksim Square Istanbul
Barbaros Parki Istanbul
Galata Tower
Café français
Galata Tower Restaurant
Swissotel Bosphorus
Urban Suites Istanbul
Kanyon Istanbul

 

 

THE PRINCES' ISLANDS

Princes Islands Istanbul

Princes' Islands are an archipelago of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara to the south-east of Istanbul. Not all of them are inhabited and your boat will probably stop in the two largest, Buyukada and Heybeliada. 

Enjoy a priceless calm as cars and motor vehicles are prohibited. The only means of transport are bicycles, coaches and your feet.

 

Princes or members of the imperial family and aristocrats were imprisoned in monasteries on the island during the Byzantine period, hence their name today. According to the legend their eyes were gouged out so that they could not return to Istanbul. The Ottomans also got rid of stray dogs on the islands but apparently did not blind them and many of them did return to Istanbul.

 

With its 5.36 km ² Buyukada is the largest of the islands and home to beautiful houses. You can take a charming carriage ride but the island is somewhat industrialized and the routes lose much of their quietude because of the carriages heavy traffic. To explore the island you also have the possibility to hire bikes. We, your friendly companions, advise you to walk, to move away from the beaten track and established trails, and climb up the island for views full of beauty, ancient monasteries or amazing abandoned buildings. Breathe in the calm of these islands and thoroughly enjoy Istanbul, one of the few destinations offering you sun, a great river, a great culture and history and, for the icing on the cake, these beautiful small islands nearby.

 

To reach the islands you can take a Vapür (reckon on 5 TL for this one hour and forty-five minutes journey) or hovercraft (45 minute trips for 10 TL). Plan to get there early enough and check schedules in advance on the website of the public company which organises the trips (www.ido.com.tr). When purchasing your token do not worry if you see the word " adalar " displayed , it is the name of the district comprising these islands and the boat will stop on the two main islands Buyukada and Heybeliada. 

Prepare a picnic of your favourite turkish delicacies as the food on the islands is forgettable. We recommend that you visit during the week rather than at weekends : it is quieter and more enjoyable.

Walk on the island
Abandoned building
Çankaya Caddesi
Panorama Buyukada

 

 

| PLAN YOUR STAY

 

 

 

Urban Suites Istanbul

When to go? Weather in Istanbul.

Weather in Istanbul

Istanbul’s weather is a happy blend of Continental and Mediterranean climate, rather mild and pleasant all year round. Never too hot or too cold this temperate climate can, however, be moody at times and take you by surprise. Don’t forget to bring a lightweight jacket just in case. We advise you to get there especially in spring or late summer if you want to enjoy pleasant temperatures and avoid the crowds. Many people also choose the end of December to celebrate the New Year and it is not uncommon to have a white Christmas in Istanbul!

 

Getting there :

There are two airports in Istanbul that welcome their international guests, the Ataturk International Airport on the European side and the Sabiha Gokcen International Airport located on the Asian side.

 

Istanbul offers direct flights to any airport city in Turkey while the advanced transportation network of the region allows easy access to any city in the country.

 

After your arrival at the airport, you can reach the city center by taking one of the shuttles or public transportation facilities leaving to Taksim or Kadikoy outside of the exit gates.

 

Alternatively, passengers can reach many areas of the city by taking the subway from the airport and a short ride on the tram afterwards. Furthermore, the taxis stationed outside of the exit gates will drive you to your destination by taking the most convenient routes.

 

Passengers who prefer sea transportation may consider travelling on one of the world famous cruise ships that stopover in Istanbul.

 


 

Moving around :

Istanbul metro map

Tram, Metro, Funicular, bus, boat, cable car, taxi, you have the choice!

 

The public transport infrastructure is fairly well organized and very safe, so use it without fear. For the metro, funicular, cable car, tram or boat you will need to buy tokens (the price varies from 3 TL / metro / funicular / cable and 9TL for longer boat trips). They can be purchased from dispensers in all stations.

 

Using buses can be a bit of a challenge and we suggest that only those of you who are good at map reading and used to asking your way around should use them. Identifying the bus number and where to stop can be tricky. You will need to buy your tickets from the ticket offices (no tokens and no cash).

 

In any case, taxis are pretty cheap in Istanbul and short trips may even be cheaper than public transport!

Istanbul : tourist offices location

Official tourism portal of Turkey :

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