Istanbul – Turkey’s Best
Filled with charming heritage attractions and a history that boasts of richness and Grandeur, Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and among the world’s most loved holiday destinations. The city is the center of history, culture and economy of Turkey and is scenically located between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. It is home to 14.4 million people who make it the largest European urban agglomeration and the fifth-largest city proper in the world. The city stretches on an area of 5,343 square kilometers and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Istanbul welcomed approximately 11.6 million foreign visitors in the year 2012 and was declared to be the fifth-most-popular tourist destination in the world. It has earned the title of being the 'European Capital of Culture' and is an Alpha global city. While two third of the city’s historical and commercial center is towards the European side, about a third of its population lives on the Asian side of Eurasia. The city was been inhabited by Thracians in the late 6th millennium BC and Phoenicia, Ancient Greece, Ancient Persia and Ancient Rome and Ottomans Empire have ruled the city at some point in history. Called Byzantium for almost millennia, Istanbul has been a major part of the historical Silk Road and also served as an important port city.
All flights coming to Istanbul land at the Istanbul Atatürk or Sabiha Gökçen International, which are the two major international airports in the city. The Istanbul Atatürk airport is the larger of the two airports and is the fifth busiest airport in Europe and the eighteenth busiest in the world. It is well linked to all major cities in the world. Due to its unique location in an interim climatic zone, Istanbul experiences a mix of marginal Mediterranean climate, oceanic climate and humid subtropical climate. During the winter season from December to February, the city receives the maximum rainfall and snowfall is frequent. Spring kick in from March and stays till May, making the weather cool and bearable. Heat coupled with humidity rules the city from June to August and this is the lowest tourist season. During the months from September to November, the weather is very comfortable and this is the peak tourist season. Istanbul Biennial in September, Contemporary Istanbul in November, International Gastronomy Festival in March, International Istanbul Film Festival in April, Istanbul International Theatre Festival during May-June, International Istanbul Music Festival in June and Rock'n Coke in July are the major tourist events in Istanbul.
Begin your Istanbul tour by visiting the Aya Sofya, which is the most prominent attraction of Istanbul. Topkapı Palace is another glorious palace belonging to the 15th century and is noted for its dazzling display of Islamic art. Blue Mosque is another major draw. Built in a similar style of Great Mosque of Mecca, it is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture. Basilica Cistern is another architectural marvel built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. Medusa Stones located in the northwest corner are the major attraction here.
Hippodrome (having gallery walls and fountains), Istanbul Archaeology Museum (an important museum complex displaying a wide array of artifacts from Turkey and Middle East), Grand Bazaar (a massive covered market), Süleymaniye Mosque (the most important mosque in Turkey), Spice Bazaar, Dolmabahçe Palace, Chora Church, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Rüstem Paşa Mosque, Little Aya Sofya and Yedikule Fortress are the major attractions one should not miss in Istanbul.
Eating and Shopping
Turkish cuisine is the most popular food available in most parts of the city and Istanbul is extremely popular for its historic sea food restaurants. The areas like Bosphorus, Ortaköy, Bebek, Arnavutköy, Yeniköy, Beylerbeyi and Çengelköy are the places where the most expensive and fine dining restaurants can be found. Beyoğlu, Beşiktaş, Şişli and Kadıköy districts are the places to go if you want to enjoy foreign cuisines. Many pubs, winehouses as well as night clubs can also be found in Istanbul. Some of the local delicacies one should not miss here are – cheese, kaymak, Sucuk, köfte, summer helva, döner, bulgur pilaf, kokoreç, börek and gözleme. Turkey is a Muslim country, hence pork is not allowed.
Wide array of shopping destinations ranging from historical markets to upscale stores are available across the city. When in Istanbul, you cannot afford to miss a visit to the Grand Bazaar which has been operational since 1461 and is among the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. This is the best place to shop for the handmade carpets, rugs and other things indigenous to the city. While Mahmutpasha Bazaar and Egyptian Bazaar are popular traditional markets, Abdi İpekçi Street in Nişantaşı and Bağdat Avenue are the high end shopping districts. Akmerkez mall which was awarded the titles of "Europe's best" and "World's best" shopping mall by the International Council of Shopping Centers is another major attraction. Istanbul Cevahir is one of the largest shopping malls in the continent. Turkish delight, Rugs and kilims, Chalcedony and local crafts are a must buy here.
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Airports near Istanbul Sabiha
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