IstanbulTurkey

Image for Galata Tower showing heritage architecture and a city

Founded more than 25 centuries ago at the point where Europe meets Asia, Istanbul's incredible mix of old and new, East and West, is bound to blow you away.

Turkey's largest city has far more to offer than just breathtaking scenery and a great climate. Situated on the Bosphorus Strait, it is where East meets West in terms of both geography and culture. It's also where modern and traditional Turkey collide. Shop in malls or bazaars, visit galleries or mosques, and spend your evenings in traditional taverns or fashionable nightclubs.

This ancient city, one of the oldest in the world, has officially been called Istanbul since 1923, when Atatürk founded the Turkish Republic. First known as Byzantium, and later Constantinople, it served as the capital of Islam for centuries and was at the centre of some of the greatest realms in history: the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman empires. It owes its prosperity in part to its strategic location at the point where the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea meet.

To get a sense of Istanbul's diverse history head to the Old City on the Sultanahmet Peninsula. Here you'll find a wealth of architectural gems. If you need to orient yourself, the 14th-century Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) is a great place to start. Plot the historical changes in the city's political and religious landscape as you visit Topkapi Palace (Topkapı Sarayı), the Hippodrome (Hipodrom) and the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque). Don't miss the magnificent Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) either, formerly a cathedral and mosque and now an impressive museum.

If you've still got plenty of energy, get ready to haggle at the Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı). Or, if it's peace and quiet you're after, chill out in the underground Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi). Alternatively, cross the Golden Horn via the Galata Bridge to the New City for some retail therapy at one of the many modern shopping centres. Take in the atmosphere of Taksim Square while you're there; as the professionals leave the skyscrapers the trendy young things arrive to hit the clubs.

It's worth buying an Istanbulkart if you're going to use public transport, especially since it includes the ferry across the Bosphorus to see the Beylerbeyi Palace.

A bridge between cultures, Europe's most populous city is also one of its most ancient and most beautiful. As soon as you arrive in Istanbul you'll understand why this fascinating city has prospered for so long.

Top hotels in Istanbul

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
YOTEL Istanbul Airport LANDSIDE
YOTEL Istanbul Airport LANDSIDE
Tayakadin Mah. Terminal Cad. No.: 1, Arnavutkoy, Istanbul
NZ$171
per night
Feb 28 - Feb 29

Situated in Arnavutkoy, this hotel is 11.1 mi (17.8 km) from Belgrad Forest and within 20 miles (32 km) of Mall of Istanbul and Kilyos Beach. Istanbul Cevahir ...

4.3/5Excellent! (147 reviews)

"Good location inside the airport. Quite and clean is good to find."…"

Reviewed on 22 Feb. 2020

YOTEL Istanbul Airport LANDSIDE
Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center
Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center
5 out of 5
Silahsor Cad. No: 42 Bomonti Sisli, Istanbul, Istanbul
NZ$140
per night
Mar 8 - Mar 9

Located in Sisli, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Bomontiada, City's Nişantaşı Shopping Center and Istanbul Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Centre. ...

4.6/5Wonderful! (2,002 reviews)

"Breakfast was good, staff were friendly, far from attractions needed taxi, clean, bath and spa relatively expensive for Turkish standard."…"

Reviewed on 22 Feb. 2020

Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center
Movenpick Hotel Istanbul Golden Horn
Movenpick Hotel Istanbul Golden Horn
5 out of 5
Silahtaraga Caddesi, No. 87, Eyup, Istanbul
NZ$82
per night
Mar 12 - Mar 13

This family-friendly Eyup hotel is located on the waterfront, 2.7 mi (4.3 km) from Halic Congress Center, and within 6 mi (10 km) of Istiklal Avenue and Topkapi ...

4.3/5Excellent! (597 reviews)

"The staff are so friendly and helpful the hotel is nice and room was nice had great sleep night ."…"

Reviewed on 14 Feb. 2020

Movenpick Hotel Istanbul Golden Horn

Popular activities in Istanbul

Blue Mosque
Image for Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

4.5/5(75 reviews)

The bright blue ceramic tiles that line the interior of this great traditional mosque are a sight to behold.

Grand Bazaar
Image for Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

4.5/5(87 reviews)

Stock up on artisanal curios as you explore thousands of shops in Istanbul's enormous covered market, one of the largest and oldest in the world.

Hagia Sophia
Image for Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

4.5/5(78 reviews)

Throughout its various incarnations as a church, an Orthodox cathedral, a mosque, and a museum, this magnificent structure has dominated Istanbul's skyline.

Topkapi Palace
Image for Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

4.5/5(64 reviews)

Admire a vast array of artefacts as you explore this magnificent palace in the Old City, home to the Ottoman sultans for around 400 years.

Galata Tower
Image for Galata Tower

Galata Tower

4/5(63 reviews)

Marvel at Istanbul's natural and architectural beauty from this medieval watchtower.

Bosphorus Bridge
Image for Bosphorus Bridge

Bosphorus Bridge

4.5/5(113 reviews)

The first bridge to link Europe and Asia is also one of the finest places for sightseeing in Istanbul, letting you look out over the city’s mosques, palaces and neighbouring islands.

Top activities in Istanbul

Istanbul in One Day Small-Group Tour
Image for Istanbul in One Day Small-Group Tour

Istanbul in One Day Small-Group Tour

86% of travellers recommend
NZ$139
Per adult
Istanbul Tourist Pass: Top 30+ Attractions & Services
Image for Istanbul Tourist Pass: Top 30+ Attractions & Services

Istanbul Tourist Pass: Top 30+ Attractions & Services

NZ$196
Per adult
Sightseeing Cruise on the Bosphorus
Image for Sightseeing Cruise on the Bosphorus

Sightseeing Cruise on the Bosphorus

80% of travellers recommend
NZ$60
Per adult
Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar & Topkapi Palace Full-Day Tour
Image for Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar & Topkapi Palace Full-Day Tour

Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar & Topkapi Palace Full-Day Tour

74% of travellers recommend
NZ$92
Per adult
Small Group - Skip the Line Istanbul Half Day Tour
Image for Small Group - Skip the Line Istanbul Half Day Tour

Small Group - Skip the Line Istanbul Half Day Tour

80% of travellers recommend
NZ$61
Per adult
Private Istanbul Custom City Tour
Image for Private Istanbul Custom City Tour

Private Istanbul Custom City Tour

NZ$62
Per adult

Reviews of Istanbul

4.6

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
192
5 - Excellent 67.6056338028169%
4 - Good
81
4 - Good 28.52112676056338%
3 - Okay
10
3 - Okay 3.5211267605633805%
2 - Disappointing
1
2 - Disappointing 0.352112676056338%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Feb 6, 2020

It’s a excellent city to visit

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Jan 29, 2020

Very nice city l will be coming back

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Jan 19, 2020

Love Istanbul... been to over 40 countries and this is a favourite!

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Jan 2, 2020

Good food, friendly locals,

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Dec 28, 2019

This is excellent place to visit with so much variety and diversity in people and the best of all, the food. It is an ideal place for foodies.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Dec 24, 2019

Beautiful city but traffic

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