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Holidays in Istanbul

Istanbul Holidays

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Holidays in Istanbul

A getaway in the delightful city of Istanbul will be remembered for years to come.

Making new friends is a big part of travelling, and with 11,200,000 residents calling this place home, you're certain to have plenty of chances.

To reach Istanbul from Ankara, the national capital, you'd need to travel 220 miles to the west. Another good point of reference is Adalar, which lies 12 miles to the southeast.

While there are lots of things to do here, the Hagia Sophia and the Hippodrome really stand out. The Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace also feature on the pages of almost every Istanbul travel guide, and they simply cannot be missed.

Your entire family is sure to have a blast at Miniaturk and Vialand. If that isn't enough to tire the young ones out, why not visit Kumburgaz Lunapark or Aqua Club Dolphin as well?

Enchanting deep-sea worlds are waiting to be found at TurkuaZoo and Istanbul Aquarium. For even more fishy adventures, make your way to Istanbul Dolphinarium.

Keen on taste testing local wines? Treat your taste buds, as well as learn the art of winemaking used this region, at Bomontiada.

In the mood for an alfresco lunch? Grab some cheese and crackers and head to Taksim Gezi Park or Gulhane Park for a chilled out picnic. You can also settle back with a newspaper and watch life pass by at Camlica Hill and Emirgan Park.

Your holiday wouldn't be complete without a day by the seaside! Round up the troops, pack some games and enjoy some real downtime at Kilyos Beach or Suadiye Beach. Also consider going for a leisurely walk along Buyukcekmece Beach and Florya Beach.

Istanbul offers a range of nature reserves, such as Piyer Loti and Suada Island. For a little more quiet time, make your way to Aydos Hill and Joshua's Hill.

Wander the quiet halls, study the engaging displays and chat to the accommodating staff. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum and the Maritime Museum are peaceful places to reflect and discover something new. If you have extra time, also go to Florence Nightingale Museum and the Museum of Innocence.

For a day full of discovery and fun, make your way over to the Sadberk Hanim Museum. Here you will learn about a variety of intriguing and bizarre things.

In a place that's filled to the brim with terrific art collections, the Istanbul Modern Art Museum and the Pera Museum stand a head taller than the rest. More bright canvases and stunning sculptures await you at the Sakip Sabanci Museum and the Mosaic Museum.

Discover Istanbul's past and come to understand the present with a visit to the Panoroma 1453. Want to learn more? Then stick the Adalar Museum and the İstanbul Museum of the History of Science & Technology in Islam on your list too.

Do you want to discover some historically significant sights? A few hours at Basilica Cistern or Galata Tower offer visitors a fascinating peek into Istanbul's bygone times. If that doesn't satisfy your inner history nerd, keep going to Dolmabahce Palace and the Cagaloglu Hamami.

Want to explore Istanbul from another angle? Check out Halic Koprusu and Topkapı Harem, two historic pieces of architecture that have stood guard over the city's waters for many years.

Interested in military history? Enjoy an outing to Yedikule Hisari and Anadoluhisari and discover their roles as defensive structures as well as what happened to those who fought there. Anadolu Hisari Fort and Yedikule Zindanlari have also withstood many sieges throughout their time.

Beylerbeyi Palace and Yildiz Palace have housed some of Istanbul's most well-known people throughout the years. Kucuksu Palace and Ihlamur Palace are a couple more opulent dwellings. Enquire about guided tours if you care to see the best bits of them.

For a magical escape, look up and gaze in awe at the captivating impression of Rumeli Hisari and Riva Castle. Yoros Kalesi and Anadolu Kavağı Kalesi also look like they've leapt out of the pages of a fairytale book. If you're lucky, there might be a guided tour happening.

Hoping to add a spiritual aspect to your holiday? Take a look around the Suleymaniye Mosque and Chora Church. You can gain an even greater insight into the city's beliefs at Church of St. George and the Rustem Pasha Mosque.

When you're venturing to new lands, keep in mind that it's sometimes the more ordinary destinations that you'll most fondly remember when you get back home. Two cases in point in Istanbul are Galata Bridge and French Street. You'll also find plenty to keep you amused at Istiklal Avenue and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

Hotels in Istanbul

It won't take you long to lock in a suitable hotel in Istanbul. There are some 1245 properties currently listed on ebookers' travel guide.

If you're after a simple room without all the extra bells and whistles, the Lion Hotel, located at Lamartin Caddesi No:41 Taksim, is your safest bet. Another place that provides superb service at a low cost is the Taksim Premium Hotel, which you'll find at Kuloglu Mahallesi Yenicarsi Cad. No:5. Maybe you'd prefer to live like a king as the experienced staff at the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus provide for every want and need? The Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul is yet another popular choice for those who relish the finer things in life.

Topkapi Palace is a must-see for visitors to Istanbul. If you want to stay in the vicinity of this star attraction, the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet and the GLK PREMIER Acropol Suites & Spa are both good options.

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.

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

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.


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

Best time to go on 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.

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!

How to move around in Istanbul

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.

MORE Istanbul Hotels

See all 2,278 Hotels in Istanbul
Lalinn Hotel

Lalinn Hotel

Oyuncu Cikmazi Oyuncu Sok. No 4, Istanbul
3.0 out of 5.0
4.7 out of 5 (9 reviews)

Located in Old City, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Mosaic Museum and Hippodrome. Basilica Cistern and Blue Mosque are also within 15 minutes.


Hotel Amira Istanbul

Hotel Amira Istanbul

Kucuk Ayasofya Mahallesi Mustafa, Istanbul
4.8 out of 5 (5 reviews)

Located in Old City, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Hippodrome, Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia. Blue Mosque and Cemberlitas Bath are also ...


Grand Hyatt Istanbul

Grand Hyatt Istanbul

Harbiye Mah. Taskisla Caddesi No.1, Istanbul
5.0 out of 5.0
5.0 out of 5 (8 reviews)

Located in Harbiye, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Ataturk Cultural Center, Acibadem Taksim Hospital and Taksim Square. Macka Park and Istanbul ...


TAV Airport Hotel Istanbul

TAV Airport Hotel Istanbul

Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul
4.5 out of 5 (2 reviews)

Located in Bakırköy, this hotel is within 6 miles (10 km) of Istanbul Aydın University, Istanbul Aquarium and Florya Beach. Mall of Istanbul and Atakoy Marina ...


Rixos Pera Istanbul

Rixos Pera Istanbul

Kamerhatun Mah.Mesrutiyet Cad.No 44, Istanbul
5.0 out of 5.0
4.7 out of 5 (3 reviews)

Located in Beyoglu, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Pera Museum, Museum of Innocence and Taksim Square. Acibadem Taksim Hospital is 1 mi (1.6 ...


GLK PREMIER The Home Suites & Spa

GLK PREMIER The Home Suites & Spa

Kucukayasofya Cad No:60, Istanbul
5.0 out of 5.0
4.0 out of 5 (68 reviews)

This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located by the ocean, within a 10-minute walk of Little Hagia Sophia, Mosaic Museum and Turkish and Islamic Art Museum. ...


ISG Airport Hotel - Special Class

ISG Airport Hotel - Special Class

Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Int'l Airport, Istanbul
4.0 out of 5.0
5.0 out of 5 (2 reviews)

Located in Pendik, this hotel is 3 mi (4.9 km) from Viaport Outlet Shopping and within 9 miles (15 km) of Sabanci University Gosteri Merkezi and Aydos Castle. ...


Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class

Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class

Divanyolu Cad. Ticarethane Sok. No:45, Istanbul
5.0 out of 5.0
4.1 out of 5 (24 reviews)

This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the historical district, within a 5-minute walk of Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia and Cagaloglu Hamami. Hippodrome ...


Elite World Business Hotel

Elite World Business Hotel

Gültepe Mah Sehit Zafer Kiziltas Sk No 1, Istanbul
5.0 out of 5.0
4.3 out of 5 (6 reviews)

This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located near the airport, within 2 mi (3 km) of Istanbul Aydın University and Florya Beach. Istanbul Aquarium is 2.1 mi ...


Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

Tevkifhane Sokak No. 1, Istanbul
5.0 out of 5.0
4.6 out of 5 (5 reviews)

Located in Old City, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern. Blue Mosque and Hippodrome are also within 10 ...



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