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Things to do in Istanbul

From historic markets and ancient monuments to trendy bars and modern art museums – the choice of things to do in Istanbul reflects its unique blend of old and new. Discover this exotic city’s rich culture, fantastic shopping and vibrant nightlife.

Spend time in the historic heart of Istanbul on cultural holidays, and discover the awe-inspiring architectural legacy of the Byzantines and Ottomans. Peruse the colourful wares at bustling 16th-century markets or go designer-label shopping in the New City. Unwind at a Turkish hammam then sip sundowner cocktails at a chic rooftop bar, while listening to the captivating call to prayer.

Istanbul shopping
Istanbul shopping

Breathe in the exotic spice aromas and peruse the incredible array of wares on offer at Istanbul’s labyrinthine Grand Bazaar, dating from 1461. Or for big-name brands, head to the modern malls of the New City. If you seek designer boutiques, make your way to Nisantasi or Bagdat Caddesi.

Istanbul attractions
Istanbul attractions

When you’ve visited the stunning Topikapi Palace, be sure to stop at the nearby Istanbul Archaeology Museum and peruse its superb collection of treasured ancient artefacts. Take in the architectural glory of the Hagia Sofia basilica. Or admire the contemporary Turkish works at the prestigious Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.

Food and drink in Istanbul
Food and drink in Istanbul

Try rich Turkish coffee or sip sweet tea with the locals at a traditional tea garden. Sample succulent meze washed down with aniseed-infused raki in the Old City. Or tuck into fantastic fresh fish at an eatery around Galata Bridge. For an unforgettable gastronomic experience, dine at Cirağan Palace Kempinski.

Istanbul nightlife
Istanbul nightlife

Absorb the lively atmosphere over a glass of wine at a traditional tavern. Or gaze at the city bathed in amber hues while enjoying sunset cocktails at a trendy rooftop bar. Take in an opera, or groove to pulsating beats under a canopy of stars at an open-air nightclub.

Wellbeing in Istanbul
Wellbeing in Istanbul

Take a leisurely stroll around the treasure trove of stunning historic monuments that is Istanbul’s Old City. Or escape the heat and bustle for a gentle cruise along the Bosphorus. Or let a soapy bubble wash on heated marble invigorate you, at a Turkish hammam such as the Çemberlitas Bath.

Istanbul experiences

See the highlights of incredible Istanbul with these memorable experiences

Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour
Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Discover how old meets new in Istanbul on this tour of the city’s four ‘must-see’ historic sights. Take in the iconic Sultan Ahmet, or Blue Mosque, a stunning feat of Ottoman architecture. Then visit the 6th-century Hagia Sophia, once one of the world’s largest Christian basilicas and now a magnificent museum. Marvel at the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire, Topkapi Palace, before perusing the thousands of shops forming the legendary Grand Bazaar – one of the world’s largest covered markets.

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