Plan Your Trip To Istanbul

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Istanbul Tourism

Although not the official capital of Turkey, Istanbul is still very much the heart of all activities in the country. It is Turkey's largest and most populated city and also the centre of tourism. Istanbul is located on both sides of the Bosphorus and thus lies in both Europe and Asia.

Istanbul is known for the marvellous structures of Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and the Dolmabahe Palace. Almost all of these buildings today serve as museums, providing insight into the grand lives of the emperors and kings, and the spectacular Byzantine and later European architecture. Istanbul also has some splendid gardens, such as the Gulhane and the Emirgan, which come alive during spring when the tulips start to bud, and the colours start to flourish. Cruises along the Bosphorus Strait is a hugely popular activity with spectacular views of the cityscape. Istanbul is also a shopper's paradise, with one of the world's first shopping malls, the Grand Bazaar, and several streets dedicated to small stores and stalls.

Known as Byzantium and Constantinople throughout history, Istanbul has always been one of the most important European cities. Today, it is the 7th largest city in the world and one of the most heavily populated. Its vibrance and imperial heritage make it one of the most beautiful cities to visit. It served as the capital of the Byzantine and the Ottoman empires, and the numerous cathedrals, mosques and palaces erected by the rulers can still be seen all over the city. The Bosphorus Strait, the thin dividing waterway between Europe and Asia, divides Istanbul into different parts. Most of the beautiful historical structures are located around Sultanahmet Square (old city). The New Istanbul is the main business district of the city housing skyscrapers, mansions and picturesque neighbourhoods. Across the Bosphorus is the Asian side while off the coast of the Asian Side is the Princess' Islands. 

Must Know Before You Visit Istanbul

  • Istanbul Museum Pass: A cash-on-delivery pass with 120 Hour 5-day validity period. It includes free admission to over 12 museums and discounts on activities and other tourist attractions.
  • Accommodation: Moderate and budget hotels are available in Taksim and Sultanahmet Square while pricey hotels can be found in western suburbs and on or overlooking the Bosphorus. Harbiye is also a popular place to stay.
  • Sim Cards of Vodafone, Avea or Turkcell are available at kiosks at the airport and around the city.
  • Free public wifi is available in most city centres and squares. 

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Exchanging Money in Istanbul

Though most of the big currencies are accepted in Turkey, there are several money exchange booths in the city's commercial areas. Hakan Doviz, Ozkan Doviz and many other services provide this option. Most banks provide exchange services as well. You can also use ATMs, however, charges may be applied so it's best to check with your bank first.

Daily Budget for Istanbul

Istanbul is not a very cheap city to visit like many make it out to be. Depending on the attractions you visit, where you eat, and how you travel, a low end budget will lie around TRY 100 - 120. A mid range budget would lie around TRY 200 - 400, and a high end budget will go anywhere upwards of TRY 600, per day per person.

Religion of Istanbul

Islam

Istanbul Customs

  • Though liberal clothing is acceptable in tourist areas, it is best to dress modestly whenever you're heading out in Istanbul. Avoid wearing very revealing clothing.
  • Racism in Turkey is almost non-existent, though Asians and Blacks may sometimes be met with surprise without any malice. You might notice a stare or two, but it is normal over here.
  • Make sure to use your right hand to give or take things, as the left hand is used for hygiene functions.
  • Tipping is expected in places where the service charge is not included in the bill, in the region of 10%. Small tips of TRY 2-3 are enough for porters or taxi drivers.

History of Istanbul

Istanbul has a long heritage and has been an important city throughout its history. It formally begins with the rule of the Greek settlers back 660 BCE, when they established Byzantium where Istanbul is today. It changed a few times, going to the Persians once and then regained by the Greeks as part of the Athenian Empire. After gaining independence in 355 BCE, it became a part of the Roman empire in 73 CE. When Constantine the Great became the emperor of the Roman empire, he had special plans for a city to be built in place of Byzantium.

This city, Constantinople, was declared the capital of the Byzantine empire in 330. It grew exponentially during this period, and the Hagia Sofia was also built during this time. After the onset of the 11th century and the death of Basil II, Constantinople declined and was conquered and sacked by Villardouin and Enrico Dandolo in the Fourth Crusade. However, the city was recovered in 1261 by the Byzantines. Constantinople now was an extremely weak city, and in 1453 was strategically conquered by the Ottomans under Sultan Ahmed II. Many of the cathedrals of the city were converted into mosques and it became the capital of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1517. The city grew greatly during the 19th century, but by the end of the century, the decline began. It was plagued with civil wars and then finally World War I resulted in the French, British and Italian occupation of the city. The last Ottoman emperor, Mehmed VI was exiled and the Republic of Turkey was established in 1922, with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as the president. The city, due to its turbulent past, wasn't made the capital and Ankara was preferred. Istanbul began to grow rapidly in the second half of the 20th century, as there was a lot of migration into the city looking for jobs and opportunities. As the population increased dramatically, the different villages around the city were combined and many modern buildings were built to form the city we see today.

Nightlife in Istanbul

Istanbul is a major European city and has a great array of options with regards to nightlife. There are several clubs along the Bosphorus which are known for their up-scale crowd and exclusivity. If not that, head over to Beyoglu which is widely considered to be the nightlife hotspot of Istanbul with clubs and bars catering to all sorts of tastes. There are several good options in Galatsaray and Ortokoy as well.

Currency in Istanbul

The official currency of Istanbul is the Turkish Lira though most tourist places also accept Euros, US Dollars and Pounds. All major cards are accepted, such as credit cards of Visa, MasterCard and EuroCard. High-end hotels and restaurants also accept American Express.

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FAQs on Istanbul

How much does a package cost for Istanbul?

The packages for Istanbul start at INR 58485 which can be further customized based on number of people, days, hotel category, vehicle type and customizations. You can have a look at all packages here

What is the best time to visit Istanbul?

March to May and September to November are considered the best times to visit Istanbul. The Turkish city experiences spring in the former months and autumn in the latter. A patch of blue sky will follow you everywhere if you’re vacationing in either of the two seasons. During these seasons, the city is blessed with a spell of good weather. The climate in Istanbul is by and large a juxtaposition of oceanic, humid subtropical and Mediterranean. There are three different climate zones in the city, owing to its large size. That being said, Istanbul encounters four distinct seasons, namely the autumn season from September to November, the winter season from December to February, the spring season from March to May and finally the summer season from June to August. July is the hottest month in the year, while December is considered as the wettest period. Thunderstorms in the summer are usually followed by drizzling. The light spells of rain will certainly not derail your travel plans.

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What is the local food in Istanbul?

Istanbul caters to cuisines from all kinds. It has many restaurants, popular street foods, as well as tons of fast food joints. Though while you're here, you must try some local dishes, such as the simit, which is like a Turkish bagel, and unbelievably delicious; the balik-ekmek is a fish sandwich which is a hugely popular street food; d_ner which is a meat prepared on a vertical rotisserie; the lahmacun or the Turkish pizza; and of course you cannot leave without trying the Turkish Kebabs. You will discover many amazing street foods throughout the city as you go on exploring.
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What are the top hotels in Istanbul?

There are 3205 in Istanbul which can be booked through Holidify. The most popular hotels in Istanbul are Galateia Residence, I'zaz Lofts, Hidden Garden Suites, Balat House, Apartment Bosphorus, Manzara Bosphorus. You can see all the hotels in Istanbul here

What are the things to do in Istanbul?

The top things to do in Istanbul are Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), Topkapi Palace, SÙleymaniye Mosque, Bosphorus Strait. You can see all the places to visit in Istanbul here

What are the places near Istanbul?

The top places near to Istanbul are Ankara which is 349 km from Istanbul, Pamukalle which is located 343 km from Istanbul, Izmir which is located 327 km from Istanbul, Antalya which is located 481 km from Istanbul, Cappadocia which is located 565 km from Istanbul

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