With its unique location where East meets West, cultures blend and famed minarets dominate the skyline, Istanbul is a mesmerising city, sprawling across the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus Strait. Founded by the Greeks and later blossoming throughout the Moslem Ottoman Empire, Istanbul primarily rose from today’s Sultanahmet district. This is an area filled with a portfolio of incredible buildings and landmarks, only deserving of a city that functioned as the final stop on the legendary Silk Road.

Geographically, Istanbul is divided into three parts by the waters of the Bosphorus; as an addition to its European and Asian sides, the Golden Horn bisects the city’s west, forming a peninsula upon where you’ll find Istanbul’s oldest district. Many of Istanbul’s most famous sites are concentrated in this area, including the Blue Mosque with its six famous minarets, the Hagia Sophia with its giant dome and magnificent Topkapi Palace, which functioned as the imperial enclave of the Ottoman emperors for four centuries.

Across the Golden Horn from the old city is the Galata district, a vibrant area where the best of Istanbul’s nightlife can be enjoyed, as well as the city’s prominent pedestrian street, Istiklal Avenue, with its charming red trams. Grand landmarks aren’t just saved for Sultanahmet, with mosques, towers and ancient city walls also populating the maze of streets as you head into the city’s northern reaches.

Ignoring the breathtaking mosques, magnificent palaces and imposing stone walls, there are numerous other ingredients that simply have to be added to any Istanbul experience. From soaking in one of the city’s hammams and cruising along the Bosphorus, to gorging on delectable Turkish cuisine and exploring the colourful shops of the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul is a city that never stops delivering magical moments.

When to go

While Istanbul can be a rewarding city destination throughout the year, the shoulder seasons in spring and autumn are among the two best times to visit. April sees the start of warmer weather conditions and greater sunshine hours, with temperatures gradually rising through May and June. In July and August, temperatures can be seen as too high and uncomfortable, though in September and October, the climate becomes more appealing.


What to do

  • Marvel at the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque
  • Explore the atmospheric Sultanahmet District
  • Admire views across the city from Galata Tower
  • Experience the hustle and bustle of the Grand Bazaar
  • Sample some delicious Turkish cuisine and coffee
  • Take a scenic cruise along the Bosphorus
  • Explore the palaces of both Dolmabahce and Topkapi