Where Europe's history and Asia's mysticism intertwine

Renowned as one of the largest and most beautiful metropolitan cities, Istanbul ranks along with Rome and Milan as one of the most exciting holiday destinations in the world.

Being the largest city in Türkiye, Istanbul surrounds the mighty Bosphorus Strait and expands majestically on two continents. The two major airports – Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen – welcome hundreds of international flights each day. Infused with the spirit of the mighty Byzantine Empire and Constantinople, Istanbul boasts an array of must-see historical landmarks such as the Ottoman Topkapi palace, the 400-year-old Blue Mosque and the former church and mosque of Hagia Sophia. Don’t forget to venture underground to explore the ancient grounds of the Basilica Cistern.

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Grand Attractions in Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque and the Suleymaniye Mosque are unmissable old city sights. With around 4,000 vendors and 60 streets, the Grand Bazaar is the motherlode for shopping in Istanbul. Discover shimmering handwoven rugs, resplendent jewellery, vibrant fabrics, local vintage treasures and ceramics of every description – just be prepared for haggling, as almost everything can be found cheaper elsewhere.

One of the most impressive things to see in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque, its six slender minarets towering around a vast dome. The equally stupendous interior is an airy, light-filled space with crimson rugs and gold and blue Islamic tracery across every inch of wall. (Visitors should dress modestly as this is a working mosque.)

One of the most rewarding things to do in Istanbul is climbing the hill to the Sulemaniye Mosque, whose gargantuan but graceful dimensions live up to the name of its commissioner, Süleyman the Magnificent. Tranquil gardens and ablution fountains balance the grandiosity. Also appealing are original wooden Istanbul houses, threatened elsewhere in the city but restored in the surrounding streets here.

The Hagia Sofia museum – the world’s largest cathedral for a thousand years, the Ottoman emperors’ lavish Topkapi Palace, and the huge 6th century underground Basilica Cistern are some of the best things to see in Istanbul.

Read on here for more top things to do in Istanbul.

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