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The only City in the world to be split over 2 continents! Istanbul is one of the world's mega cities, with a population of over 15.5 million people it's a vibrant place to be!
The European side of the City (West of the Bosphorus) is where you'll find all of the historical and touristy sites to visit. East of the Bosphorus lays the Asian side - there isn't much to see this side, it's the modern side of the city home to the businesses and residences.
Where to stay
You'll want to stay in the historical district, close to Sultanahmet Square so that you're within easy reach of all the main attractions. Taksim Square, Istiklal Avenue and the whole Karaköy area are only a short Uber from here too!
What to see
We've highlighted some of our favourite spots that are a must see for everyone in Istanbul, so take a look through and make sure they go on your bucket list!
The Blue Mosque
(Sultan Ahmed Mosque)
Image credit - theistanbulinsider.com
No trip to Istanbul would be complete without a visit to the famous blue mosque. Standing near Sultanahmet Square it's impossible to miss!
There are certain times tourists are permitted to enter the mosque and you must be dressed appropriately. This means no shorts inside for both men and women, and in addition shoulders and hair must be covered for ladies - are able to borrow headscarves if you don't have anything.
You will also be required to remove your shoes before entering and keep them in a bag provided.
The mosque is free to enter.
The Cistern Basilica
Image credit - dailysabah.com
One of the most fascinating and unique spots to visit in our opinion! The Basilica is a welcome break from the heat of the day as you descend underground and wander between the columns.
Located just around the corner from Sultanahmet Square the Basilica is easy to find. Allow a good hour to wander the columns and get your photos.
As of 2021 the entrance fee is 30 lira per person.
Image credit - dailytripistanbul.com
The main bridge connecting the historical part of the City to the modern Karaköy area of town the other side of the Golden Horn. The bridge is lined with restaurants and bars with incredible views over both sides of the city and is a great place to spend an evening.
Image credit - theistanbulinsider.com
One of the icons of Istanbul!
The tower stands in the Karaköy neighbourhood and is home to several restuarants and a nightclub with amazing views over the Bosphorous. The tower was closed when we visited so we didn't have the chance to see inside sadly!
Admission from 2021 will be 35 lira per person.
Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque
This impressive building has switched between being a mosque and church over the centuries and after over 80 years as a museum it has recently become the Grand Mosque again in mid 2020. We were lucky enough to be there for the initial opening of the Hagia Sophia Mosque in August 2020 so couldn't explore it's insides, but if you get the chance to we highly recommend doing so!
Entry is free as it is a religious building but you will need to dress respectfully to enter.
Image credit - perapalace.com
The most famous street in Istanbul! With over 3 million visitors a day on weekends it's certainly a busy, vibrant place!
If shopping is your thing, you won't want to miss Istiklal! From designer shops to $1 outlet stores, this street has it all! At almost 1.5km in length it's a good place to get your steps in whilst you shop, but if the journey back is too much you can always jump on the tram!
The Rainbow Steps
Originally painted by a local man named Hüseyin Çetinel back in 2013, these steps have become an icon of the City! Hüseyin painted the steps to bring a smile to people's faces and, after some initial problems involving the stairs being covered grey but painted back again - he succeeded!
Thousands of tourists flock to the stairs to take photos against the colourful background, and we totally get why!
You'll find the stairs in the Beyoğlu district just outside of Karaköy - you'll know when you've arrived!
The stairs are free to visit but will likely be crowded!
Topkapi Palace &
The Harem Apartments
Possibly one of the largest attractions of Istanbul - Topkapi Palace! Home to the Ottoman Sultans of the 15th and 16th century, you can feel the grandeur and power as you wander the palace grounds and apartments. You'll also find one of the best views of the Bosphorus and City from the grounds of the palace!
The palace and Harem apartments are separate entry tickets, but the apartments are really worth taking the time to explore and were one of our favourite parts!
Topkapi Palace is 100 lira per person and the apartments are an additional 70 lira per person.
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