Istanbul is unlike any other city in the world. Situated between two continents and the historical heart of trade between Europe and Asia, it is an east-meets-west cultural melting pot, full of striking architecture and one of the world’s great cities.
When to visit
September and October, sunny and calm, are generally considered the ideal months to visit Istanbul. April and May also offer warm, sunny days – and thousands of tulips springing up in the city’s parks and gardens. In July and August, when the sun is at its peak, the city can be uncomfortably hot and humid.
Where to stay
For a truly indulgent stay in Istanbul, we recommend checking in to the W hotel’s Wow Suite. One of the most exclusive places to stay in Istanbul, it’s the perfect party pad, with state-of-the-art music systems and a spa bathtub. The Raffles hotel offers a modern, luxury oasis in the heart of the Zorlu Center – a perfect location for those that want to be close to the best designer shops in the city.
What to see
From the depths of the Basilica Cistern to the heights of the Galata Tower, Istanbul is packed with fascinating architectural sites. With so much to see and do, invest your time wisely so as not to miss anything. Take a look at the seven must-see architectural sites here.
Where to dine
It is no surprise that Istanbul, surrounded by water, is home to some excellent seafood restaurants, many of which overlook the Bosphorus itself. Try Tarihi Karaköy Balıkçısı, one of Istanbul’s oldest fish restaurants, for a truly memorable meal; for those planning a night out, Ulus 29 offers impressive food and has a well-known resident DJ, Cem Salman.
Where to shop
The Nişantaşı district, one of Istanbul’s most stylish neighbourhoods, is home to exclusive designer boutiques such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada. Those seeking traditional Turkish souvenirs shouldn’t leave without exploring the labyrinth of the Grand Bazaar.
Top tips to remember
Dress conservatively – particularly when entering mosques or other places of worship.
Avoid driving – the public transport system in Istanbul is very good and there are many ways to get around the city, while traffic is notoriously bad and accidents are a regular occurrence.
Tipping is customary – restaurant and bar staff will expect tips of 5% and 10% in restaurants and bars, and tipping hotel staff is recommended. It is, however, not common to tip taxi drivers.