Thanks to direct flights from London to Istanbul, you can jet off through the English rainclouds and land on the warm Turkish tarmac in around 4 hours. Istanbul’s glittering exoticism provides the perfect backdrop for an exciting holiday. This historic city’s influential role as a power base on the historic Silk Route and the imperial capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires has been immortalised with a prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site accolade; more recently, its designation as European Capital of Culture 2010 has introduced a new influx of visitors to its world-class attractions.
A wide choice of routes and carriers means that London to Istanbul flights are competitively priced throughout the year. Peak season is July and August, when school holidays encourage families and students to travel. Demand for flights and accommodation rises during Istanbul’s prestigious international music festival in June, so steer clear of these dates for best availability. Be aware that during the holy month of Ramadan (the dates of which vary according to the lunar calendar) many attractions are closed, although visitors often find that the streets become extra lively after dark at this special time. Book your trip in November and January to appreciate the spectacular beauty of Istanbul without the crowds and take advantage of the cheapest flight fares.
Istanbul straddles the border between Europe and Asia, with an international airport on either side. Turkey’s low-cost carrier Pegasus flies the route between London Stansted and Sabiha Gökçen on the Asian side, while British Airways matches the 4-hour flight time from London Heathrow to Atatürk on the European side. The choice of direct flights also includes AtlasGlobal’s service from Stansted to Atatürk and Turkish Airlines’ departures from Gatwick, with a choice of arrival airport. LOT-Polish Airlines offers competitive one-stop deals from Heathrow to Atatürk via Warsaw, Ukraine International Airlines departs from Gatwick to Atatürk via Kiev, and KLM provides connections from London City to both Istanbul airports via Amsterdam.
Sabiha Gökçen International Airport is around 30 miles from Istanbul, and boasts a variety of public transport options for onward travel. If it’s your first time in the city, the simplest way to reach your hotel is to hire a cab from the terminal; a shuttle bus is also available to take you from the airport to the central district of Taksim. Istanbul Atatürk Airport, one of Turkey’s main international gateways, is around 15 miles west of the city and conveniently linked to principal central locations by metro line M1A and shuttle bus services.
One of the most popular ways to see the best of Istanbul is on a tram ride along storied Istiklal Avenue. Admire glorious Neo-Classical and Art Nouveau landmarks on the journey from the medieval Galata Tower, through the picturesque historic district of Karaköy, to the striking Republic Monument in Taksim Square, the bustling heart of the modern city.
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