Istanbul Attractions and Tours, Istanbul Hotels and Istanbul Things to Do:
Istanbul is a city of many contradictions. It is Asian and European, modern and ancient, religious and secular, mystical and practical and what makes it so appealing is the co-existence of all these opposing qualities.
Visitors will find Istanbul a melting pot of many attractions. The large variety of attractions range from grand palaces to ancient mosques, historic museums to bustling bazaars, exotic belly dancing performances to whirling dervishes.
Many of Istanbul’s tourist attractions are on the European side of the Bosphorus and concentrated in Sultanahmet area, once the heart of the Imperial Centre of the Ottoman Empire. Some of the main tourist sites include:
- Hagia Sophia
- Sultanahmet Mosgue (the Blue Mosque)
- Topkapi Palace
- Kapali Carsi (Covered Market)
- Yerebatan Sarnici (the Basilica Cistern)
- The Hippodrome
- The Museum of Islamic Art
Taksim Square in the Beyoğlu district is where many of the 4 and 5-star hotels are and it is also the commercial centre of Istanbul.
Things to do in Istanbul
No visit to Istanbul is complete without a visit to the Grand Bazaar. It is a 15-minute walk from the Sultanahment area or you can catch the tram.
The Egyptian Spice Market is another of the Istanbul bazaars where visitors will be fascinated by the colours and smells of the spices and the liveliness of the market. Some of the stallholders enjoy having a chat even if you are not in the market for their goods.
Istanbul can be overwhelming and if you are a first-time visitor, the best thing to do is to start with an orientation tour of the city. The Istanbul City Hop-on Hop-off tour is primarily a guided city tour on a double decker bus, however you may hop-on and off at a few selected stops enroute.