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Best Time: March to May or September to November (Spring or Autumn) Read More

Ideal duration: 4-6 days

Nearest Airport: Istanbul Check Flights

Istanbul Tourism

Although not the official capital of Turkey, Istanbul is still very much the heart of all activities of the country. It is Turkey's largest and most populated city, and is also the centre of tourism of the country. It's played a huge role in the history of the Roman and Ottoman empires, and the city's rich heritage can still be seen in the many imperial structures.

Of the many names the city has had, the name Istanbul has actually served for the shortest time so far. Known as Byzantium and Constantinople throughout history, the city of Istanbul has always been one of the most important European cities. Today, it is the 7th largest city in the world, and also one of the most heavily populated. Any visit to Turkey should always include Istanbul. The city's vibrance and imperial heritage make it one of the most beautiful cities you can visit in the country and indeed in Europe. It served as the capital of both, 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. Most of these beautiful structures can be seen along the Bosphorus Strait, the thin dividing waterway between Europe and Asia, between European Turkey and Asian Turkey. Cruises along the strait are a hugely popular activity as they afford you some spectacular views of the cityscape. When we talk about cityscape, the marvellous structures of Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and the Dolmabahe Palace just have to be mentioned, widely considered to be the most imposing and important buildings in the city today. Almost all of these buildings today serve as museums, providing insight into the grand lives of the emperors and kings, spectacular Byzantine and later European architecture, and also some stunning works of art. Not just these imperial museums, 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. The city is also a shopper's paradise, with one of the world's first 'shopping malls', the Grand Bazaar, and several streets dedicated to all types of shops and stores. And then when you're done with everything, you can let loose at some of the best Istanbul bars with some amazing views of the city.

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Currency in Istanbul

Though Turkish Lira is the official currency of the country, there are many places in Turkey which 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.

Exchanging Money in Istanbul

Though most of the big currencies are accepted in Turkey, there are several money exchange booths in the commercial areas of the city. 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


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 it's history. It formally begins from the rule of the Greek settlers back 660 BCE, when the 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 capital of the Byzantine empire in 330. It grew exponentially during this period, and the Hagia Sofia 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 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 the World War I resulted in 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 it's 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.

Restaurants and 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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Q. Visiting Istanbul from 12th October to 17th October .. need help to get the itinerary as I need to cover Cappadocia too

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