Istanbul Turkey, is a city that straddles two continents and boasts a rich tapestry of history, culture, and vibrant life. It was formerly known as Byzantium and then later Constantinople As you step foot into this mesmerising metropolis, you’re transported to a world where the past seamlessly merges with the present, creating an unforgettable experience. Here, we’ll take you on a journey through some of the most captivating things to see and do in Istanbul, a city that has been a crossroads of civilisations for centuries.
Best Times To Visit Istanbul Turkey:
Spring (April to June)
Spring is a glorious time to visit Istanbul when the city awakens from its winter slumber. The weather during this season is mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 22°C (59°F to 72°F). The gardens and parks burst into bloom, filling the air with the sweet scent of flowers.
Summer (July to August)
Summer in Istanbul can be hot and crowded, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F). While the weather might be sweltering, this season offers a unique energy as the city comes alive with festivals and events. It’s an excellent time for sun worshippers to hit the beautiful beaches along the coast. However, be prepared for more tourists and higher prices.
Autumn (September to November)
Autumn is often considered the best time to visit Istanbul due to its pleasant weather and fewer crowds. The temperatures range from 18°C to 26°C (64°F to 79°F), making it perfect for exploring the city’s historical treasures and enjoying outdoor activities without the summer heat.
Winter (December to February)
Winter in Istanbul is relatively mild compared to many other European cities, with temperatures ranging from 6°C to 11°C (43°F to 52°F). While it might be chilly, this season offers a unique charm as the city is adorned with festive lights, and you can enjoy the rich Turkish cuisine in cozy restaurants. Plus, it’s a great time for budget-conscious travellers, as prices tend to be lower.
Tops Things To See And Do In Istanbul Turkey:
Your journey through Istanbul’s treasures must begin with the Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally built as a cathedral in 537 AD, it later served as a mosque and is now a museum. Its awe-inspiring dome, intricate mosaics, and breathtaking architecture make it a must-visit.
2. The Blue Mosque: A Spiritual Oasis
Adjacent to the Hagia Sophia stands the Blue Mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque. With its six towering minarets and a stunning interior adorned with blue Iznik tiles, it’s an architectural masterpiece and a symbol of Ottoman splendor. Visitors are welcome to enter outside of prayer times.
3. Topkapi Palace: A Glimpse into Ottoman Grandeur
Step back in time at the Topkapi Palace, once the seat of Ottoman power. Explore its opulent chambers, exquisite courtyards, and the Harem, a fascinating glimpse into the lives of sultans and their concubines. Don’t forget to marvel at the incredible views of the Bosphorus and Golden Horn from the palace gardens.
4. The Grand Bazaar: Shop ‘Til You Drop
No trip to Istanbul is complete without a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With over 4,000 shops, you can find everything from carpets and ceramics to spices and jewellery. Bargaining is part of the experience, so sharpen your negotiation skills.
5. Spice Bazaar: A Sensory Delight
Also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar is a fragrant haven filled with colourful spices, teas, Turkish delight, and more. The bustling atmosphere and the scents of exotic spices make this market a captivating experience.
6. Bosphorus Cruise: A Tranquil Escape
Take a scenic cruise along the Bosphorus Strait, which divides the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. The cruise offers breathtaking views of historic palaces, fortresses, and waterfront mansions, as well as the opportunity to witness the city’s unique skyline.
7. Basilica Cistern: An Underground Marvel
Explore the mystical Basilica Cistern, an underground water reservoir dating back to Roman times. Wander through its forest of columns, where atmospheric lighting adds to the intrigue. Don’t forget to toss a coin into the Medusa-headed column for good luck.
8. Chora Church: A Hidden Gem
Venture off the beaten path to visit the Chora Church (Kariye Museum), renowned for its stunning mosaics and frescoes. This lesser-known treasure is a testament to Byzantine artistry.
9. Turkish Cuisine: A Gastronomic Adventure
Indulge in the flavours of Turkish cuisine at local eateries and restaurants. Sample iconic dishes like kebabs, baklava, Turkish delight, and don’t forget to sip on traditional Turkish tea or coffee.
10. Whirling Dervishes: A Spiritual Dance
Experience the mesmerizing Sufi ritual of the Whirling Dervishes. This graceful dance is not only a captivating performance but also a spiritual journey, providing insight into Sufi philosophy.
Istanbul is a city that invites you to explore its diverse neighbourhoods, from the trendy shops of Beyoglu to the historic streets of Sultanahmet. So, whether you’re admiring ancient architecture, savouring local cuisine, or immersing yourself in the city’s vibrant markets, Istanbul will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on your heart. It’s a place where East meets West, tradition meets modernity, and where every corner reveals a new layer of its captivating history and culture.