Istanbul Holidays

Your Istanbul holiday

Istanbul’s history as a city began with its colonization by the Greeks in 7th century BCE. Desired for its strategic location, Greek King Byzas named the city Byzantium and settlers who populated it mostly worked as fisherman. In 196 ACE, Roman Emperor Septimus Severus took over the war-torn city and restored and beautified it.

However, after a civil war in 314 ACE between Roman emperors Constantine and Licinius ended in the latter’s death, the city was renamed Constantinople and declared the capital of the Roman Empire.

Constantine commissioned the construction of numerous churches, fortified city walls, and other structures to put the city on par with Rome. Many wealthy Romans moved to Constantinople and it began to grow and prosper.

After the breakup of the Roman Empire, despite the various invasions and attacks from Middle Eastern forces, Constantinople remained prominent. In 1204, however, crusaders of the Fourth Crusade laid waste to the city and ruled it until 1261 ACE under a Catholic Latin Empire.

The Ottomans, led by Sultan Mehmed II, eventually conquered the city in 1453 and changed its name to Istanbul. The Sultan embarked on a makeover of the city, building public facilities and encouraging people from various religious faiths to make it their home, though Istanbul ultimately became a centre for Islamic culture.

Istanbul joined the Republic of Turkey in 1923 after the allies’ occupation of the city during WWI and the Turkish War of Independence. From the 1940s to the 1970s, Istanbul expanded in size and population, and has recently become known a bastion of cutting-edge art and culture.

Spend a holiday in Istanbul and visit the ancient city that is always reinventing itself. Once the centre of the Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman empires, the city is now recognized as a hub of modern art, fashion, film, and music, playing host to numerous cultural festivals each year.

Bursting with trendy bars and clubs, Istanbul is also famed for its unmatchable nightlife. This alongside the city’s incredible historic sites and buzzing Turkish bazaars makes it a city that straddles the past and present with grace and style.

Book a flight to Istanbul today to experience it all!

Holidays Deals

Istanbul Holidays

Agan Hotel Istanbul

3 stars
3.9 / 5 95 reviews
Service-oriented hotel in the heart of the Old CityHotel Agan is a warm and friendly small hotel in the Old City. The hotel's focus on guest comfort is apparent inside and out. Agan has large cushions set up outside the building for guests who want to enjoy a drink from the pub next door. The hotel is in easy walking distance of Old City attractions. Agan provides complimentary wireless Internet access and a buffet breakfast. Guests who do not have their own computers may use the guest-dedicated lobby computer. HighlightsKnown for friendly and welcoming staffCushions that line seating area outside the hotel offers one of the best people-watching spots in the Old CityNeighboring Salute Pub serves drinks and food Complimentary wireless Internet access and buffet breakfast Rooms The décor in Hotel Agan's 31 rooms drew inspiration from traditional Turkish design. The rooms feature brilliant reds and gold tones as well as bold classic Turkish patterns. Many of the rooms feature tufted upholstered headboards and wood and upholstered furniture. Rooms are air conditioned. The hotel offers 24-hour room service. Features The hotel is close to several forms of public transportation. The location is a good starting point for those who want to tour the city or to take a cruise on the Bosphorus.   Agan is also near beautiful Gulhane Park. The park was once the outer gardens of Topkapi Palace. The park has wonderful open spaces with paths perfect for guests who enjoy exercise walking, or, of course, leisurely strolling.   The hotel can arrange airport transfers and on-site babysitting services. TransportationGulhane tram stop (0.1 mi/0.2 km)Sirkeci Railway Station (0.4 mi/0.7 km)Eminonu Ferry Terminal (0.9 mi/1.4 km) Istanbul International Ataturk Airport (11.7 mi/18.9 km) Sabiha Gokcen Airport (27.6 mi/44.5 km)  Nearby attractionsHagia Sophia (0.2 mi/0.4 km) Istanbul Archaeology Museum (0.3 mi/0.5 km) Blue Mosque (0.6 mi/1 km) Spice Bazaar (1 mi/1.6 km) Topkapi Palace (1.1 mi/1.8 km)  Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (1.5 mi/2.5 km)Galata Tower (1.9 mi/3 km) Balat Ahrida Synagogue (2.4 mi/3.9 km)  Dolmabahce Palace (2.7 mi/4.3 km) BusinessComplimentary wireless Internet accessPhotocopier available for guest use
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Nightly rates from £29.29

Ottoman Hotel Imperial

4 stars
4.5 / 5 47 reviews
19th-century school building gets top grades as a small hotel The Ottoman Hotel Imperial, originally built as an Ottoman school and hospital in the mid-19th century, today is an elegant and welcoming vision for travelers. The building was converted to a hotel in 2005. From the hotel's elevated location above the Old City guests can take in views of some of the world's most beautiful sights, including the Marmara Sea. The Ottoman Hotel Imperial sits amidst many of the Old City's most popular attractions, including the Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque. Highlights Historic building was an Ottoman school and hospitalElevated location in the Old City affords stunning viewsSteps from incredible historic sites, including Hagia Sophia and the Blue MosqueFine restaurant serves traditional Turkish cuisine Rooms Rooms feature traditional Ottoman décor and all the comforts a modern traveler requires. High-speed and wireless Internet access is available (fees may apply). The desks are small and better suited to a casual letter or a computer space than a place for business travelers to spread out. Guests receive a complimentary welcome drink. Features The Ottoman Hotel Imperial combines contemporary and traditional décor in an elegant interior with a focus on guest comfort.   The hotel has two restaurants. The menu at the fine Matbah Restaurant focuses on traditional Turkish cuisine. Sadrazam Restaurant's buffet features dishes from Turkey and other global influences. The hotel's Saltanat Bar offers wine, beer, and seasonal specialty cocktails.   Guests can relax in the hotel's garden or on the terrace.  Transportation Sultanahmet tram stop (0.4 mi/0.7 km)Cankurtaran Railway Station (0.5 mi/0.8 km)Yenikapi Ferry Terminal (2 mi/3.2 km) Istanbul International Ataturk Airport (12 mi/19.4 km) Sabiha Gokcen Airport (28 mi/45 km)  Nearby attractions Istanbul Archaeology Museum (109 yds/0.1 km) Hagia Sophia (0.1 mi/0.2 km) Blue Mosque (0.4 mi/0.7 km)Topkapi Palace (1.2 mi/1.9 km)   Spice Bazaar (1.3 mi/2.1 km) Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (1.9 mi/3 km)Galata Tower (2.5 mi/4 km) Balat Ahrida Synagogue (2.8 mi/4.5 km)   Business High-speed Internet access (fees may apply)Business services 
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Nightly rates from £50.12

Recital Hotel

4 stars
4.4 / 5 18 reviews
With its panoramic rooftop terrace overlooking Istanbul, this hotel offers bright rooms with classic-style furniture and luxurious fabrics. Room service and free Wi-Fi are also available. All rooms feature pinewood floors, wood furnishings and custom-made curtains. Each has a wall-mounted LCD TV with satellite channels and a bathroom with walk-in shower. In-room hot and cold drinks are available as well. A buffet breakfast is served daily in the breakfast salon. The a la carte restaurant offers a varied choice of local and international dishes. Guests can admire sunsets on the terrace with Turkish tea and appetizers. Hotel Recital provides a car rental service. The Sabiha Gokcen Airport is 32 km away. The hotel is situated a 3-minute walk away from the cemberlitas Tram Stop. The Covered Bazaar and Blue Mosque are only 500 meters away. Recital Hotel, which is in a very central part of the historical peninsula Sultanahmet, offers its luxury and hospitality to the guests. Most of the historical attractions of Istanbul are either within a five-minute walk or can be easily reached by different means of transportation. Some of the most famous ones in the environs of Recital Hotel are St.Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Underground Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Ancient Hippodrome and Obelisk. The hotel also provides Ballroom, Dry cleaning, Lobby, Reception services. Taxes also includes net rates. Breakfast time is from 7 am to 10 am. Deluxe ,Corner Room and Superior Sea view room have free espresso machine facility.
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Nightly rates from £60.18

Gulhane Park Hotel Istanbul

4 stars
3.8 / 5 166 reviews
Enjoy Gulhane Park; walk to Istanbul's famous attractionsThe Gulhane Park Hotel Istanbul is sited next to the former garden of Topkapi Palace. This historic location is ideal for easy reach to some of the city's most popular tourist attractions. The hotel has views of the park, the Palace, and the Bosphorus Strait. Amenities include complimentary breakfast buffet, a fitness center, a wood sauna, and a Turkish bath. The Gulhane Park Hotel Istanbul is just half a mile from Sirkeci Railway Station, one mile from Eminonu ferry dock, and a short drive from Istanbul International Ataturk Airport. Reasons to stay Enjoy jogging or walking in Gulhane ParkThe Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and other attractions are just a short walk awayThe restaurant serves international and Turkish cuisine for lunch and dinner Gulhane Park Hotel Istanbul roomsThe superior double and twin rooms at the Gulhane Park Hotel Istanbul feature a king bed or two single beds, and garden or city views from their balconies. Superior triple rooms have a king bed plus one single bed, or alternatively, three single beds. Quadruple rooms have one king bed, and two single beds, or one king bed and one single bed, plus a sofa. Rooms include cable and satellite TV, telephones, high-speed wireless internet, tea and coffee, and laundry service. Things to do nearby Blue Mosque  (1.1 mi/1.8 km)Topkapi Palace  (1.3 mi/2.1 km)Galata Bridge  (1.3 mi/2.1 km)Hagia Sophia  (1.3 mi/2.1 km)
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Nightly rates from £44.23

Agora Life Hotel

4 stars
4.4 / 5 38 reviews
Just a 5-minute walk from Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, this boutique hotel offers modern accommodation with free wireless internet access. It has a rooftop terrace and offers a buffet breakfast. In the heart of Sultanahmet, Agora Life Hotel offers an ideal location for guests who want easy access to Istanbul's most historic sites. Agora Life Hotel is 17 kilometers far from Ataturk Airport which can be reached by metro and tram line passes the area
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Nightly rates from £62.07

Sultanhan Hotel Istanbul

5 stars
4.3 / 5 28 reviews
Istanbul hotel with Seljuk and Ottoman details and riverside restaurantDramatic Seljuk and Ottoman architectural details abound at the centrally located Sultanhan Hotel Istanbul, which is near the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar. A columned lobby -- replete with silk curtains -- gives way to property highlights that include a riverside restaurant, a lounge serving aperitifs, a concierge desk, a sauna and a Turkish hammam. Meanwhile, single, double and triple rooms are available with amenities such as parquet wood flooring, oversize cable TVs, laptop-size safes and complimentary wireless Internet access. Highlights Complimentary wireless Internet access in guest roomsCentral location, within walking distance of the Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar and Yerebatan Cistern Sauna and Turkish hammam for 12 RoomsAll air-conditioned guest rooms at the Sultanhan Hotel Istanbul have one queen or two twin beds or one queen and one twin bed. Features include sofa beds in separate sitting areas, satellite TVs, laptop-size safes, direct-dial telephones and complimentary wireless Internet access as well as bathroom telephones, showers with handheld showerheads, bathrobes, slippers and hair-dryers. Room service is available 24 hours a day, and housekeeping is provided daily at the Sultanhan Hotel Istanbul. FeaturesEye-catching Seljuk and Ottoman architectural details grace the Sultanhan Hotel Istanbul, where the lobby is adorned with historic relics more than 150 years old. The property houses a terrace restaurant, a lounge, a sauna and a Turkish hammam, all within walking distance of some of the most revered sightseeing. Guest-friendly services include a doctor on call, dry cleaning and laundry services, plus parking, 24-hour room service and babysitting. Sultanhan Hotel Istanbul also has a tour desk to assist guests. Transportation Ataturk International Airport (8.2 mi/13.2 km) Attractions Grand Bazaar (0.3 mi/0.5 km)Basilica Cistern (0.3 mi/0.5 km)Archaeological Museum (0.6 mi/1 km)Suleymaniye Mosque (0.7 mi/1.1 km)Galata Bridge (0.9 mi/1.4 km)Istanbul University (1.2 mi/1.9 km)Dolmabahce Palace (2.6 mi/4.2 km)Istanbul Congress Center (2.9 mi/4.6 km) Business Complimentary wireless Internet access
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Nightly rates from £168.20

Raymond Hotel

4 stars
3.9 / 5 20 reviews
Situated less than 200 meters from Gulhane Tram Stop, Raymond Hotel offers non-smoking rooms with free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV. Its restaurant serves vegetarian and meat dishes. Each room features comfortable bedding and are fitted with large windows. Guests can grab a cold drink from the well-stocked minibar or make a warm beverage using the tea / coffee maker. At Raymond, guests can make use of the car rental services or request assistance with tickets. The front desk can also help arrange laundry services for guests. The hotel offers Lobby, Reception, Restaurant, Bar, 24-Hour Front Desk, Non-Smoking Rooms, Elevator, Express Check-In/Check-Out, Heating, Design Hotel, Luggage Storage, All Public and Private spaces non-smoking and Air conditioning. Additional Charges: 30 euros Ataturk Airport Transfer.
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Nightly rates from £35.32

The Millennium Suites

4 stars
4.7 / 5 15 reviews
If you are looking for a great value for money downtown Istanbul hotel then look no further than the elegant Millennium Suites. Ideal an overnight stop or for a long stay in a large 35 sq.m. room, this first-class Istanbul accommodation has all you need to make you feel at home. The other hotel amenities are Dry cleaning, Library, Lobby and Reception. The Millennium Suites has 3 floor but no lift available.
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Nightly rates from £95.26

Best Western Premier The Home Suites and Spa

4 stars
4.5 / 5 13 reviews
The Home Suites & Spa-Istanbul is a renovated old town, old house, furnished like a comfortable stylish home, facing the Marmara Sea and little Hagia Sophia. As you pass through the hotel doors of this luxury boutique mansion, you will be enveloped by the timeless beauty that has made the Home Suites & Spa-Istanbul charming. Experience the perfect blend of modern amenities and historic charm at Istanbuls professional operating management. The Home Suites & Spa features a sauna and a steam room. Transportation options at this property include an airport shuttle (surcharge) (available on request) as well as a cruise ship terminal shuttle (surcharge) and a ferry terminal shuttle (surcharge). This property also offers valet parking and tour/ticket assistance. The hotel provides amenities like Dry cleaning, Lobby and Reception.
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Nightly rates from £85.80

Hotel Darussaade Istanbul

4 stars
4.5 / 5 13 reviews
Darussaade Istanbul is one of the protected examples of Ottoman civil architecture dating from XIX. century. The wooden mansion, which is restored by sticking to its original, is decorated with elaborately so as to reflect the spirit of the period it belongs to. You will feel like in One Thousand and One Nights, while staying in the rooms where comfort and elegance is in high levels. Darussaade Istanbul, which is in the middle of many unique structures belonging to Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman Empires like Hagia Sophia museum, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Archeological museum, provides opportunity to explore this magical city with its perfect position within walking distance! After a pleasant walk on seashore in the evenings, where you will see Asia, you can go to a sauna and have a rest. You can be sure to find more than what you expected in Darussaade Istanbul!
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Nightly rates from £51.02
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Hotels

Istanbul Hotels

Nightly rates from £29.29

Agan Hotel Istanbul

3 stars
3.9 / 5 95 reviews
Service-oriented hotel in the heart of the Old CityHotel Agan is a warm and friendly small hotel in the Old City. The hotel's focus on guest comfort is apparent inside and out. Agan has large cushions set up outside the building for guests who want to enjoy a drink from the pub next door. The hotel is in easy walking distance of Old City attractions. Agan provides complimentary wireless Internet access and a buffet breakfast. Guests who do not have their own computers may use the guest-dedicated lobby computer. HighlightsKnown for friendly and welcoming staffCushions that line seating area outside the hotel offers one of the best people-watching spots in the Old CityNeighboring Salute Pub serves drinks and food Complimentary wireless Internet access and buffet breakfast Rooms The décor in Hotel Agan's 31 rooms drew inspiration from traditional Turkish design. The rooms feature brilliant reds and gold tones as well as bold classic Turkish patterns. Many of the rooms feature tufted upholstered headboards and wood and upholstered furniture. Rooms are air conditioned. The hotel offers 24-hour room service. Features The hotel is close to several forms of public transportation. The location is a good starting point for those who want to tour the city or to take a cruise on the Bosphorus.   Agan is also near beautiful Gulhane Park. The park was once the outer gardens of Topkapi Palace. The park has wonderful open spaces with paths perfect for guests who enjoy exercise walking, or, of course, leisurely strolling.   The hotel can arrange airport transfers and on-site babysitting services. TransportationGulhane tram stop (0.1 mi/0.2 km)Sirkeci Railway Station (0.4 mi/0.7 km)Eminonu Ferry Terminal (0.9 mi/1.4 km) Istanbul International Ataturk Airport (11.7 mi/18.9 km) Sabiha Gokcen Airport (27.6 mi/44.5 km)  Nearby attractionsHagia Sophia (0.2 mi/0.4 km) Istanbul Archaeology Museum (0.3 mi/0.5 km) Blue Mosque (0.6 mi/1 km) Spice Bazaar (1 mi/1.6 km) Topkapi Palace (1.1 mi/1.8 km)  Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (1.5 mi/2.5 km)Galata Tower (1.9 mi/3 km) Balat Ahrida Synagogue (2.4 mi/3.9 km)  Dolmabahce Palace (2.7 mi/4.3 km) BusinessComplimentary wireless Internet accessPhotocopier available for guest use
Nightly rates from £50.12

Ottoman Hotel Imperial

4 stars
4.5 / 5 47 reviews
19th-century school building gets top grades as a small hotel The Ottoman Hotel Imperial, originally built as an Ottoman school and hospital in the mid-19th century, today is an elegant and welcoming vision for travelers. The building was converted to a hotel in 2005. From the hotel's elevated location above the Old City guests can take in views of some of the world's most beautiful sights, including the Marmara Sea. The Ottoman Hotel Imperial sits amidst many of the Old City's most popular attractions, including the Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque. Highlights Historic building was an Ottoman school and hospitalElevated location in the Old City affords stunning viewsSteps from incredible historic sites, including Hagia Sophia and the Blue MosqueFine restaurant serves traditional Turkish cuisine Rooms Rooms feature traditional Ottoman décor and all the comforts a modern traveler requires. High-speed and wireless Internet access is available (fees may apply). The desks are small and better suited to a casual letter or a computer space than a place for business travelers to spread out. Guests receive a complimentary welcome drink. Features The Ottoman Hotel Imperial combines contemporary and traditional décor in an elegant interior with a focus on guest comfort.   The hotel has two restaurants. The menu at the fine Matbah Restaurant focuses on traditional Turkish cuisine. Sadrazam Restaurant's buffet features dishes from Turkey and other global influences. The hotel's Saltanat Bar offers wine, beer, and seasonal specialty cocktails.   Guests can relax in the hotel's garden or on the terrace.  Transportation Sultanahmet tram stop (0.4 mi/0.7 km)Cankurtaran Railway Station (0.5 mi/0.8 km)Yenikapi Ferry Terminal (2 mi/3.2 km) Istanbul International Ataturk Airport (12 mi/19.4 km) Sabiha Gokcen Airport (28 mi/45 km)  Nearby attractions Istanbul Archaeology Museum (109 yds/0.1 km) Hagia Sophia (0.1 mi/0.2 km) Blue Mosque (0.4 mi/0.7 km)Topkapi Palace (1.2 mi/1.9 km)   Spice Bazaar (1.3 mi/2.1 km) Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (1.9 mi/3 km)Galata Tower (2.5 mi/4 km) Balat Ahrida Synagogue (2.8 mi/4.5 km)   Business High-speed Internet access (fees may apply)Business services 
Value LAST MINUTE DEAL
Nightly rates from £60.18

Recital Hotel

4 stars
4.4 / 5 18 reviews
With its panoramic rooftop terrace overlooking Istanbul, this hotel offers bright rooms with classic-style furniture and luxurious fabrics. Room service and free Wi-Fi are also available. All rooms feature pinewood floors, wood furnishings and custom-made curtains. Each has a wall-mounted LCD TV with satellite channels and a bathroom with walk-in shower. In-room hot and cold drinks are available as well. A buffet breakfast is served daily in the breakfast salon. The a la carte restaurant offers a varied choice of local and international dishes. Guests can admire sunsets on the terrace with Turkish tea and appetizers. Hotel Recital provides a car rental service. The Sabiha Gokcen Airport is 32 km away. The hotel is situated a 3-minute walk away from the cemberlitas Tram Stop. The Covered Bazaar and Blue Mosque are only 500 meters away. Recital Hotel, which is in a very central part of the historical peninsula Sultanahmet, offers its luxury and hospitality to the guests. Most of the historical attractions of Istanbul are either within a five-minute walk or can be easily reached by different means of transportation. Some of the most famous ones in the environs of Recital Hotel are St.Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Underground Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Ancient Hippodrome and Obelisk. The hotel also provides Ballroom, Dry cleaning, Lobby, Reception services. Taxes also includes net rates. Breakfast time is from 7 am to 10 am. Deluxe ,Corner Room and Superior Sea view room have free espresso machine facility.
Value Save 10%
Nightly rates from £44.23

Gulhane Park Hotel Istanbul

4 stars
3.8 / 5 166 reviews
Enjoy Gulhane Park; walk to Istanbul's famous attractionsThe Gulhane Park Hotel Istanbul is sited next to the former garden of Topkapi Palace. This historic location is ideal for easy reach to some of the city's most popular tourist attractions. The hotel has views of the park, the Palace, and the Bosphorus Strait. Amenities include complimentary breakfast buffet, a fitness center, a wood sauna, and a Turkish bath. The Gulhane Park Hotel Istanbul is just half a mile from Sirkeci Railway Station, one mile from Eminonu ferry dock, and a short drive from Istanbul International Ataturk Airport. Reasons to stay Enjoy jogging or walking in Gulhane ParkThe Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and other attractions are just a short walk awayThe restaurant serves international and Turkish cuisine for lunch and dinner Gulhane Park Hotel Istanbul roomsThe superior double and twin rooms at the Gulhane Park Hotel Istanbul feature a king bed or two single beds, and garden or city views from their balconies. Superior triple rooms have a king bed plus one single bed, or alternatively, three single beds. Quadruple rooms have one king bed, and two single beds, or one king bed and one single bed, plus a sofa. Rooms include cable and satellite TV, telephones, high-speed wireless internet, tea and coffee, and laundry service. Things to do nearby Blue Mosque  (1.1 mi/1.8 km)Topkapi Palace  (1.3 mi/2.1 km)Galata Bridge  (1.3 mi/2.1 km)Hagia Sophia  (1.3 mi/2.1 km)
Value FREE Sauna-Massage-Fitness-Kettle-Wi-fi-Drink
Nightly rates from £62.07

Agora Life Hotel

4 stars
4.4 / 5 38 reviews
Just a 5-minute walk from Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, this boutique hotel offers modern accommodation with free wireless internet access. It has a rooftop terrace and offers a buffet breakfast. In the heart of Sultanahmet, Agora Life Hotel offers an ideal location for guests who want easy access to Istanbul's most historic sites. Agora Life Hotel is 17 kilometers far from Ataturk Airport which can be reached by metro and tram line passes the area
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Flights

Flights to Istanbul

Departure Arrival Travel dates Round-trip fares
London Istanbul Sat, 6 Sep - Fri, 12 Sep £132
Manchester Istanbul Mon, 8 Sep - Wed, 17 Sep £177
Birmingham Istanbul Fri, 5 Sep - Mon, 29 Sep £170
Athens Istanbul Fri, 22 Aug - Tue, 26 Aug £115
Cairo Istanbul Wed, 16 Jul - Sat, 19 Jul £160
Dubai Istanbul Wed, 16 Jul - Mon, 21 Jul £200
Prague Istanbul Tue, 9 Sep - Thu, 18 Sep £150
Antalya Istanbul Mon, 1 Sep - Wed, 3 Sep £51
Dublin Istanbul Thu, 4 Sep - Wed, 10 Sep £193
Paris Istanbul Thu, 7 Aug - Mon, 18 Aug £258
Budapest Istanbul Tue, 2 Sep - Tue, 9 Sep £162
Belgrade Istanbul Mon, 21 Jul - Thu, 24 Jul £94
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Best time to take a holiday to Istanbul

  • The rainy season in Istanbul runs from November through March, when about half of the days each month see rainfall. Temperatures during late spring and early autumn are nice and warm, but July and August in Istanbul see average temperatures running higher than 28°C. High humidity during these hot months can make outdoor excursions uncomfortable. If you are visiting during the spring, check out the annual tulip festival held at Emirgan Park.

Istanbul highlights

  • Stroll along Galata Bridge

    This massive structure crosses the Golden Horn waterway and connects historic Istanbul with the traditionally non-Muslim areas. The current incarnation of the bridge was built in 1992, though the first was constructed in 1845. Underneath the rush of cars, trams, pedestrians, and fisherman attending to their lines, a host of restaurants, cafes, and taverns offer tourists all kinds of fish, Turkish tea, and other treats.

    Walk the walls of Constantinople

    Spend an afternoon walking the thick stonewalls that protected the ancient city of Constantinople from attack. Complete with military gates, towers, and a moat, the walls were originally built in the 5th century by Theodosius and then fortified and expanded upon by Constantine the Great. The 6.5 kilometres can be walked in about three hours, though some parts are under restoration.

    Cruise the Bosphorus

    For breathtaking views and an escape from the city, catch a ferry or a TurYol to boat around the Bosphorus. Separating Europe from Asia, the Bosphorus is a 32-kilometre waterway linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Mamarra.

    Along the ride you will spot sites that include the Topkapi Palace, the Maiden’s Tower, the Mecidiye Mosque, and the picturesque towns of Bebek and Tarabya. The entire tour takes about two hours. While the ferry is less expensive, it does require a long wait to board.

    Shop at the Grand Bazaar

    Brush up on your bargaining skills in preparation for the delightful and overwhelming Grand Bazaar. With more than 60 streets and 5,000 stalls, the bazaar is known for its beautiful carpets and embroideries, antiques, lanterns, ceramics, jewellery, as well as leather handbags and jackets.

    The bazaar also features numerous restaurants and cafes to take a break from the bustle. Closed on Sundays, pickpockets are common here, so watch your personal belongings. Come in your most comfortable walking shoes, carry plenty of water, and bring a calculator for quick conversions.

Top Istanbul attractions

  • Hagia Sophia

    This former mosque is one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture and is famous for its large dome.

    Topkapi Palace

    This palace was home to Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years and displays a large collection of Ottoman artefacts and treasures.

    Bosporus Night Cruise

    Take a romantic ferry ride from Karakoy to Kadikoy to see the twinkling city lights and fishing boats floating on the water.

    Museum of the Ancient Orient

    This museum displays fine works of art from the Hittite and Ottoman empires, including large panels that lined the streets of ancient Babylon.

    Istanbul Archaeology Museum

    See sarcophagi from the Royal Necropolis of Sidon, Roman statues, and Byzantine artefacts at the main building in Istanbul's archaeology museum complex.

    Tiled Pavilion of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror

    Istanbul's oldest nonreligious building displays tiles and ceramics dating back to the end of the 12th century.

    The Grand Bazaar

    Enjoy good-natured haggling, and look into every corner of the most famous souk in the world to find the best treasures.

    Hippodrome of Constantinople

    See the surviving Spiral Column and obelisks that were once part of the great arena that was the centre of the social scene in Constantinople.

    CaÄŸaloÄŸlu Hamami

    This beautiful bathhouse has separate areas for men and women and has a number of bath services.

    Sali Pazari

    Shop for great deals on clothing at the huge market that appears in Kadikoy every Tuesday.

  • Istanbul

    Blue Mosque

    This impressive mosque towers over the Istanbul skyline, its beauty begging for a visit. Built in the 17th century by the 19-year-old Sultan Ahmet I to compete with the Hagia Sophia, the mosque boasts seven minarets, a series of ascending domes, a marble courtyard, and gets its name from the blue tiles that line its walls.

    Full of stained glass windows, ceramics, and enormous chandeliers, this top visitors’ destination is a must see. Arrive at dusk during the summer months to hear the call to evening prayer and watch the sunset.

    Topkapi Palace

    For a peek into the life of an Ottoman sultan, check out the lavish Topkapi Palace. Sultan Mehmed II constructed this palace in the 15th century, creating a home for thousands of people – including the royal family, harem, servants, and artisans – and a centre for both politics and parties.

    The grand complex includes four courtyards and numerous gardens and pavilions, and also holds the Prophet Muhammad’s cloak and sword, perhaps the most sacred of Muslim relics. Arrive early to avoid crowds and heat, and opt for a guided tour to fully appreciate the palace’s history and many functions.

    Istanbul Archeology Museum

    Devote a day to exploring this expansive museum full of artefacts and artwork that span centuries of the city’s history and regions all over the eastern Europe, the near and Middle East, and Africa.

    Broken down into three separate museums – the Archaeology Museum, the Old Eastern Works Museum, and the Enameled Kiosk Museum – the museum’s collections include ancient Ottoman treasures, tombs, relief carvings, and scriptures like the oldest love poem ever written.

    Church of St Saviour in Chora

    Covered in intricate Byzantine mosaics and religious frescoes is the historic Chora Church. Originally built in the 4th century, the current structure dates back to 1000 ACE and was converted into a mosque in the 16th century. Visit from Thursday to Tuesday and stop by the garden in back for great views of the city.

    Tip * Booking your Tours, Transfers & Airport Parking before you go will save your money & time and ensure a stress free start to your holiday

Istanbul holiday travel tips

  • Because of the stifling summer heat, the best time to visit Istanbul is either in the spring or fall. The main languages spoken are Turkish and Kurdish.

    Dialling code: 00 90 (212 and 216)

    To and from Istanbul

    Ataruk International and Sabiha Gokcen are Istanbul’s two primary airports. The majority of international flights arrive at Ataruk, which offers easy access into the city via the metro to Zeytinburnu. From there, hop on the tram to reach Sultanahmet Square.

    Taxis to Sultanahmet cost around £15 and take between 30 minutes to an hour, while a cheaper private airport transfer service is available through Backpackers Travel.

    Around town

    Taxis are yellow and will have an illuminated light on top if they are available. Make sure the metre is running or settle the price to your destination before entering. A shared bus called the Dolmus is a great way to get around the outskirts of town. Stops have a blue sign with a large black D, and riders may request to get off at any point along the route.

    There are two metro lines in town, one that runs from Levent to Taksim and one from Aksaray to Kocatepe that terminates at the airport. Service runs about every five minutes and ends at 1 a.m. on the weekdays and 12 a.m. on weekends.

    A small tram also runs through old Istanbul, across the Galata Bridge, and ends in Dolmabache. The Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri ferry takes passengers across the Golden Horn. Main docks on the European bank are Eminonu, Sirkeci, and Karakoy.

    Tickets can be purchased at kiosks or transit stops. An Akbil token allows for easy travel on any bus, tram, or ferry, while blue tokens enable day, week, or month-long travel.

    To enjoy greater flexibility on your trip, opt for Istanbul car hire. Though the roads are well maintained, drivers are aggressive, so exercise caution.

Insider tips for Istanbul travel

  • Yilmaz Ipekçilik

    Find great quality and low prices on hand-loomed textiles at this out-of-the-way shop that sits down the road from Topkapi Palace.

    Kocamustafapasha Hamami

    Instead of visiting businesses that cater to tourists, try this authentic Turkish bath house for a massage and sauna.

    AÅŸÅŸk Kahve

    This little garden café is adored by the upper class in Istanbul for its weekend brunches by the water.

    Erzincanli Ali Baba Fasulyeci

    Join the swarm of locals and try the signature kuru fasulye in this institution that has been feeding the masses since 1924.

    Mado

    Stop by this ice cream stand for a cold treat after shopping at the weekend flea market.

Where to stay in Istanbul

  • With places like the Grand Bazaar and the Galata Tower a short walk away, the Gulhane Park Istanbul Hotel is a smart choice for the traveller that wants to see it all. This charming hotel features neo-classical furnishings, wireless Internet access, a Turkish hammam, a fitness centre, and a restaurant that serves great Turkish cuisine. Each room has an LCD TV, air conditioning, a safe-box, and a beautiful French balcony.

    In the heart of the city’s historic district is the stylish Marmara Pera Hotel. Designed as a mix of European and Turkish style, the hotel features 200 spacious rooms with modern amenities such as air-conditioning, satellite TV, and Internet. Enjoy a snack at the hotel’s Marmara Café or dine at the rooftop Mikla restaurant with breathtaking city views.

    Renovated in 2008, the 4-star Prince Hotel guarantees great service and comfort in each of its 123 rooms. Located in the centre of town, guests are within moments from sites like the Topkapi Palace and the Museum of Saint Sophie. Rooms feature air-conditioning, satellite TV, safe box, and wireless Internet access.

    The Best Western Saint Sophia Istanbul Hotel is situated next door to the St. Sophia Museum and just 30 metres from the Blue Mosque. This boutique hotel offers top-quality service, and each room features air-conditioning, Internet connection, a bathtub, and a balcony with an incredible cityscape view.

    So book a hotel in Istanbul today!

Istanbul restaurants

  • Known for its delicious and original Ottoman recipes is Asitane. Set amongst the foothills of Istanbul and boasting a great view of the Golden Horn, Asitane serves delicacies such as smoked Cerkez cheese and geese from the town of Eskisehir Alpu. Dishes are prepared following the same recipes that once filled the bellies of sultans. The menu at Asitane changes seasonally, bringing diners Istanbul’s freshest and most historic food.

    Near to the top attractions of old Istanbul is Amedros Café and Restaurant, a relaxed and friendly spot serving classic Turkish kebabs and steaks. Though it can get crowded, the reasonable prices and large portions make Amedros a worthwhile experience. Try house specialties like the flame marmer steak, the sultan kebab, or the Sirmasir.

    Platefuls of spicy regional delights from southeastern Turkey have kept Develi Restaurant popular since its 1912 opening. Try the çig köfte meatballs or the gavurdagi salatasi salad, and don’t leave without sampling the incredible baklava. With two terraces and enough seating for 700, Develi is an ideal choice for large family gatherings or business lunches.

    Situated in the fish market of the Kadiköy district, Ciya Sofrasi serves up traditional Turkish home cooking. From fresh yogurt soups to spoonfuls of salad samplers, an assortment of veggie and meat kebabs, and main courses such as lamb with green almonds, Ciay Sofrasi is a culinary treat for any discerning diner.

Health & Safety

  • Health

    Travel insurance in case of emergencies is recommended during your visit to Istanbul. While there are no required vaccinations for a visit to Istanbul, those recommended included tetanus, polio, diphtheria, and pertussis. A rabies vaccination is also recommended as Istanbul has had a problem with rabid street dogs.

    Important numbers

    Emergencies: dial 112.
    Police rescue: 155.
    Fire department: 110.
    International Hospital: Istanbul Caddesi n° 82; (212) 448 44 44
    Pharmacies: Rebul Pharmacy: (212) 235 31 42
    General doctor: Dr Durmus Sevinc (American Hospital): (212) 311 25 06
    Pediatrician: Dr Sule Yazgan (Guzel Gunler Ltd): (212) 278 33 62.
    Cardiologist: Pr. Tugrul Okay (International Hospital): (212) 663 30 00.

    Safety

    While in Istanbul, remain on your guard. Do not walk alone at night or in poorly lit areas or walk around with jewellery or other objects that may attract attention. Make photocopies of all of your documents and keep them on your person at all times, while storing the originals in some place safe.

    As most of Turkey is an earthquake zone, contact your local embassy should an earthquake occur.

Your trip

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Hotel stay must be within date range of Leave and Return.

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