Istanbul

51°
47° - January
48° - February
53° - March
62° - April
71° - May
80° - June
85° - July
85° - August
77° - September
68° - October
58° - November
51° - December
Dec avg
$171
Avg Hotel
$801
Est. Airfare

Best Known For

Description

Just like peanut butter and jelly are so much better together than they ever were apart, Istanbul has shrewdly combined the cultures of the continents it sit sandwiched between-Europe and Asia-into something magical. With the Black Sea lining the north and the Sea of Marmara setting off the south, Istanbul is vibrantly beautiful, as well. Istanbul is a blend of modern and ancient with palaces, mosques, and old city streets mixing with booming businesses, hotels, cosmopolitan restaurants, and a buzzing nightlife. However, you may find yourself drifting away from the modern and delighting in the historic. One of the most popular things to do on a visit to Istanbul is to visit a hamam. Hamamans are Turkish baths and nearly every neighborhood in Istanbul has one. Many of them offer a scrubbing and a massage, as well. Most tourists plan just one visit to a hamam and end up returning multiple times before they leave. Another historic treat comes in the form of Istanbul's famous bazaars where shopping and dining becomes an experience all their own. And the food, well, do we really even need to tell you the masterpieces that you'll find when Europe and Asia combine their culinary brilliance?
Photo Credit: Morgan Johnston
Photo Credit: Tom Wilson
Photo Credit: Turkish Culture and Tourism Office
Photo Credit: Tom Wilson
Photo Credit: Tom Wilson
Photo Credit: Turkish Culture and Tourism Office
Photo Credit: Turkish Culture and Tourism Office
Photo Credit: Tom Wilson
Photo Credit: Morgan Johnston
Photo Credit: Turkish Culture and Tourism Office
Photo Credit: Tom Wilson
Photo Credit: Turkish Culture and Tourism Office
Photo Credit: Tom Wilson
Photo Credit: Tom Wilson

Amazing Timeless city, Most Inspiring city of the world!

10/20/13
Istanbul is equal irresISTanBlue
No doubt that irresistable, to get the most out of the city you may want to check luxuryistanbul com
Happy journeys,
Ugur

Is Istanbul really a "bull"?

10/06/13
Sleek, modern, efficient and developed, Istanbul isn’t really a, “bull”, at all. Transportation is a breeze thanks to the timely and extensive tram and metro system, language barriers are present but easily overcome, restaurants line every street so you will never go hungry and local honesty and generosity seem to follow every step.

This is present-day Istanbul, but what about Istanbul past? The real “bull” of the city is trying to understand thousands of years of empires, religions, cultures, languages and reigns. Reflecting Persian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman histories, every part of this grand city has been raised, repurposed, refurbished or renamed and the best person to share this epic saga with is yes, I’m going to say it, a tour guide. Usually not one for overpriced tour guides, Istanbul was a worthwhile splurge. Imparting knowledge in a detailed yet simplified manner along with answering all your questions, tour guides are the first step to comprehending the immense history.

Another suggestion, explore both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. Only a short ferry ride across the famed Bosphorus Strait (costing a whopping $1.50), the Asian side contains ancient Ottoman ruins used during the siege on Constantinople, palaces and holiday homes once occupied by Ottoman sultans and my favorite part, fine dining restaurants for a fraction of the price of the European side. You can’t say you’ve traveled to Istanbul without visiting Asia.

When it comes to hamams, Turkish Baths, I recommend waiting for treatment in another city. That is, if you have the luxury of onward Turkish travel. Istanbul has a captive tourist market and the high price tags and average hamam services reflect this quantity.

My final piece of advice is switch accommodation at least once during your stay. Whether you stay in a boutique hotel or charming hostel located near Sultanhamet Square (minutes from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia), a high-rise hotel in the modern districts of Taksim or Beyoğlu or a budget friendly, waterfront pad on the Asian side, each city district unwraps another layer of discovery.

Istanbul is by far one of the most historically stimulating and culturally aware cities you will ever visit. Give yourself plenty of time and bite off a little bit of the “Bull” everyday!
Regina

A peak into the past

09/25/13
(Please note I visited Turkey in 2011)
This trip to Istanbul (and Cappadocia region of Turkey) was one of my favorite of all time. To see thousands of years of history piled on top of each other is amazing. I was surprised at the multiculturalism. Standing on a tram next to a woman covered from head to toe on one side of me, and the women on the other side is dress for a night out on the town, was surreal. I also highly recommend viewing the Bosporus at night. The city lights up some of the bridges at night. We stayed at the Radisson Blu on the river and got a front row seat for the light show each night.

Istanbul is a large city (HUGE!) so please take a day trip and escape to the islands located 20 minutes away from the city. A great way to decompress! You can ferry out to one of the islands and rent a bike or walk to a "beach clubs". Here you can find chairs, swim areas, showers, and snacks but no beach towels. Those you have to BYO.

A few hints:
Ladies bring a scarf or plan to buy one there. So many beautiful ones to choose from!
Men, bring at least one pair of slacks just to be respectful.
Public transportation is disjointed, don't count on it to flow from one area to another.
Have small change, even the latrines are pay toilets.
Melissa

a city that has seen

09/23/13
This year I was the first time in Istanbul is a city of contrasts, I can say that Turks are the best traders know to sell merchandise, are friendly and can sometimes too pushy for my taste, but never exceeded the limit . I actually really nice to walk through the old town to eat to drink their tea, made cruise on the Bosphorus but I was not hammam and therefore have to stop going in Istanbul ....
camelia

Istanbul Was Constantinople, Now It's Istanbul Not Constantinople....

09/21/13
My trip to Istanbul was my favorite to date! Granted, it was my first trip out of the US, so nothing will ever touch that experience. So often, when you visit a city in another country, it feels a lot like any other. Not Istanbul! The local culture and history coupled with the night life (let me tell you some stories!) make this an incredible city to visit! Take a ferry over to Uskudur (there, now you've been to Europe and Asia in one trip!). If you're staying for an extended period of time, you can catch a super cheap flight south to Izmir. Travel outside of Izmir a bit and you can visit the ancient ruins of Ephesus. You want to go to Istanbul, trust me!
Heather

Istanbul

09/21/13
I have been 8 times in Istanbul. When I am there I feel at home: it is my third home, after southern Italy and north-eastern Spain, actually. When I have time I will write more about it.
Alessandro

East meets West and New meets Old

08/30/13
Istanbul is a study in contrasts. Within moments of arriving, you're assaulted by the hustle and bustle of the city that washes overs you like the heat of a glass of çay, Turkish tea. As you approach the city you begin to see how the old aqueducts form the gates through which the traffic, and there's always traffic, enters the city. It's moments such as this where you see Istanbul's challenge. It is a city with so much history that is charging forward into the future. In fact, you'll most likely see more high rises and fancy cars then you would at home. But don't let this distract you from sampling the amazing Turkish cuisine prepared by local vendors or small kebab shops.

It's Istanbul's particular brand of hustle that makes this city so amazing. Everyone is trying to secure their share of the economic boom Turkey has been experiencing and they work for it. You'll see all manners of street vendors hawking their wares. Walk up and pick something up, but be prepared to use the Turkish word for "thank you" (Phonetically: Teshekoorler) if you want to get away without buying the shop. Seriously, as my mom will attest, this word is a lifesaver. It can extricate you from any hassling or entreaties to dine, buy, marry, or what-have-you. Teşekkürler: Learn it, use it, love it.

Don't think you'll be able to experience Istanbul in two or three days. This is a city where you could spend days just walking the streets and taking in the lively atmosphere. Be sure to give yourself a couple days to see all of the sites in the Old City, another day to spend at a hammam, a Turkish bath where you'll be soaped, scrubbed, and then forcefully contorted by a man hairier than your uncle John (But trust me, you'll walk out of there feeling blissful), and enough nights to sample several different local cuisines and the wonderful nightlife of Takism.

If you're willing to spend more time in the city and outside of it, there are a plethora of spots that most tourists might not find. For example, sit along the banks of the Bosphorous at the best little shisha and tea spot on the Asian side. First, you travel by ferry to Uskudar, then and walk south along the bank of the Bosphorus until you see the Maiden's Tower island. When you come upon a long set of concrete steps covered in cushions and men carrying trays of tea along them you'll know you've found the right spot. I suggest enjoying the sunset at this place as it lights up the city across the strait in a most wonderful way.

When you get to Istanbul be prepared for a cultural experience. If you can walk away from this city without having been awed by a view or having haggled with a vendor, then perhaps you should extend your trip. Learn to love the çay, because it comes after every meal, and in between most hours of the day. If you get lost, just ask someone. I've had experiences where people have called their friends who could speak English and translate for us over the phone. The Turkish people will go out of their way to make your experience in Turkey a wonderful one, and if you're like me, you'll know that you want to go back even though you've just arrived.

Teşekkürler,
Evan
Evan

Miniaturk

This museum reveals the cultural and architectural heritage of 3000 years of history at a glance.
Cost: 5 YTL for full fare
Visit Website

The Bosphorus Cruises

Istanbul means the Bosphorus; the seaside mansions, where green unites blue. Therefore, it becomes an obligation to go on one of the Bosphorus cruises.
Cost: Varies
Visit Website

Zeyrek Mosque

It is located in Fatih district, Zeyrek, the building is presently used as a mosque was originally the church of Pantocrator Monastery, one of the greatest monasteries of Istanbul at that period.
Cost: Varies
Visit Website

Language

Turkish

Currency

[TRY] Turkey, New Lira

Airports

Ataturk Airport [IST]