IstanbulIt’s easy to lose yourself In Istanbul’s grandiose history, but modern Istanbul is a simmering metropolis, well worth a visit in its own right. The shopping is world-class and the nightlife pulsates around not one but several districts. Even though Istanbul is no longer the capital, it’s still the country’s business and cultural centre, still, the city where new trends are created.
The CityConstantinople, the centre of the Byzantine Empire which lasted over a thousand years, later became Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire for almost 500 years. The city is a mixture of Europe and Asia, a unique urban composition. A stroll around Sultanahmet, inside the city walls, among mosques, museums and the Great Bazaar is a trip through both history and daily life. Modern Istanbul is on the other side of the Galata Bridge in Beyoğlu. The city is at its busiest from the Karaköy ferry terminal, through the always happening and youthful Cihangir, along the main tourist shopping İstiklal street and all the way to the famous Taksim square. Istanbul’s Asian side has avoided much of the international tourism and have retained a more humdrum character. Moda district is brimming with cafes and bars frequented by local hipsters, while a bit more traditional Üsküdar caters to visiting families. Waterways play a central role in the life of the city and boat traffic on the Bosporus, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara is running like clockwork. Along the banks you can find small cafes where you can enjoy a glass of tea and magnificent views over the town.
Do & See
Istanbul is a vibrant city whose grandiose history is utterly fascinating. Take a stroll around the city and admire the amazing mosques, museums and the Great Bazaar, or even visit an authentic Turkish bath.
A meal often begins with meze—a number of small dishes such as aubergine purée, börek, various salads and cheese. Filling vegetables such as tomatoes, paprika, aubergines and zucchini with rice and minced meat is typically Turkish (dolmasi). There are special restaurants that only serve kebab or köfte, meatballs, look for Kebabci or Köfteci. Simpler restaurants are called Lokanta.
Coffee has played an important role in Turkish lifestyle and culture so there is no wonder that Istanbul offers many old and new cafés. Why not try a cup of traditional Turkish coffee or tea which is served in a tiny gracious cup?
Bars & Nightlife
The really trendy places are outside the city centre, in Etiler, Levent and Ortaköy, but there’s also plenty to do around Taksim.
Istanbul has become a major shopping destination for several categories of travellers. Some tourist are looking for exoticized outdoor markets, bazaars, carpet and kilim workshops, copper working shops, antique and handicraft stalls — and the city definitely delivers on this promise. Another cohort of visitors is coming to Istanbul for luxury brands and exclusive antique shops. No matter your preferences, you can be sure that your shopping needs and desires will be met. Istanbul is big enough to support multiple shopping districts with boutiques, small shops, covered bazaars and enormous shopping malls.