TRY: Turkish lira
A city that spans two continents, Istanbul offers exotic surprises at every turn. Holidays in Istanbul deliver front row seats to grand palaces, bustling bazaars and a foodie scene that’s celebrated across the globe.
One of the world’s great cities, Istanbul sprawls across the Asian and European sides of the Bosphorus Strait. Dramatic architecture combines with artistic treasures from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Istanbul holidays invite you to savour incredible remnants of the past that blend seamlessly with modern attractions to suit every traveller.
Entertainment in Istanbul
If you love opera, folk music, art exhibitions and museum-hopping, Turkey’s largest city dazzles the mind with options. Asian Istanbul is home to trendy cafe culture, cool neighbourhoods and street art. Glamorous nightclubs join hookah lounges and concert halls on the European side. Whether you visit during festival-filled spring or under the golden haze of autumn, Istanbul is always putting on a show.
Why book Istanbul holidays
Cultural hotspot not to miss
The Blue Mosque is simply beautiful and an iconic highlight of Istanbul
Check out the Topkapi Palace Museum for a look back into the city's past
Sultunahmet Square is the city's main public square, perfect for walks and admiring the nearby views
Explore the local markets
Check out the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and biggest covered markets in the world
Must-visit historical sites
Suleymaniye Mosque, Dolmabahce Palace and Hagia Sophia
Sample the cafe culture
Head down Istiklal Caddesi and stop off in one of the many cafes for a quick brew
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Your guide to Istanbul holidays
Famous landmarks in Istanbul
Get set for gasp-worthy moments as you tick off your travel bucket list at Istanbul’s majestic monuments.
- The Hagia Sophia is an architectural marvel that was once the world’s largest cathedral. Across history, its function has changed from a Christian place of worship to a mosque and a museum.
- Intriguing stories of sultans, concubines and courtiers contribute to the history of Topkapi Palace. Now a museum, you’ll see Ottoman weapons, grand pavilions, magnificent jewels and the opulent Harem.
- Dominating the city skyline, the Blue Mosque provides the Instagram-worthy shot you’re looking for. The exterior features six minarets and grand domes, while the interior hosts tens of thousands of Iznik tiles.
- For spectacular views across the city, head up to the viewing platform of the Galata Tower. Built in 1348, it once held the title of the city’s tallest structure.
- The glamorous, 19th-century Dolmabahce Palace was home to the last of the Ottoman sultans. Tour the opulent interior to admire giant crystal chandeliers, ornate furniture and marble staircases.
History and culture in Istanbul
Whether you’re a history buff, a shopaholic or a culture vulture, expect an action-packed itinerary on holidays to Istanbul.
- Delve deep beneath the city streets at the Basilica Cistern, built in 532 to service the Great Palace. Stroll along raised wooden platforms through hundreds of atmospherically-lit marble columns.
- Three buildings house the world-class Istanbul Archaeological Museums. Admire collections from prehistoric, Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilisations.
- Discover the history of Turkish modern art at Istanbul Modern. Extensive permanent and temporary collections include a photography gallery, abstract artworks and landscape paintings.
- Walk across the ancient path of chariot races at the Hippodrome. These days it’s a busy, paved thoroughfare with plenty of historic sites to see. Check out the Obelisk of Theodosius, the Spiral Column and Kaiser Wilhelm’s Fountain.
- Adorning one of Istanbul’s seven hills, the Suleymaniye Mosque was built between 1550 and 1557. The exquisite structure features four minarets, stained-glass windows and superb tile work.
Most popular Istanbul hotels
Your Istanbul questions answered
Travel to Istanbul during March, April, May, September and October. Predominantly sunny days and pleasant temperatures are perfect for sightseeing.
Top Istanbul hotels
5 Star Hotels
- Celal Aga Konagı
- Hilton Istanbul
- Crowne Plaza Istanbul - Old City
- Wyndham Grand Istanbul Kalamis Marina Hotel
- Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus
- Ciragan Palace Kempinski
- Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Istanbul Tuzla
- Dosso Dossi Hotels & Spa Downtown
- Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel
- DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul Topkapi
- Bricks Hotel Istanbul
- Radisson Blu Hotel Istanbul Ottomare
4 Star Hotels
3 Star Hotels
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Prices last checked at 07:38 25 January 2021