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Istanbul is a city where Europe and Asia come together, a city that combines the best of both worlds, making it a cultural and historic paradise. Its large mosques and exquisite gastronomy mix into a modern city. If you can’t decide whether to travel to Europe or Asia, why not do both and rent apartments in Istanbul and enjoy the best of both continents.
What to see in Istanbul
Istanbul stands out for its mosques, which stick out into the city skyline, especially Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Also of great beauty is Topkapi Palace and the Basilica Cistern, an underground palace that used to be used to store water. Don’t miss out on the Galata Tower, one of the oldest watchtowers in the city with amazing views over the Golden Horn, also another of the places you have to go due to its amazing panoramic views over the estuary. If you want to try something authentic, go to a traditional hammam and let the waters and baths renew you inside and out. To finish, go shopping in the Grand Bazaar where you’ll find everything you can think of at decent prices, but get ready to haggle in this legendary market.
Districts and neighbourhoods of Istanbul
Sultanahment or Faith is the old town of the city, where many of the tourist attractions are located. At the other side of the straight is and Beyoglu, an alternative neighbourhood with cool bars, restaurants and shops, an ideal place to find cheap apartments in Istanbul and enjoy the real city life. Further north is the Bosphorus district, with the bohemian neighbourhoods of Besiktas and Ortaköy. Next to it is the New City, Istanbul’s newest and most modern area whilst further west is the Golden Horn, a district that encompasses the whole city north to south and that includes the traditional Ottoman neighbourhood of Eyüp. Leaving behind te European side we cross the water to the Asian side, with the coast of the Black Sea to the north and the Sea of Marmara to the south, with charming neighbourhoods such as Kadiköy.
The best time to visit Istanbul
With a southern Mediterranean clime, Istanbul has hot summers and mild weather the rest of the year, with rain coming especially in winter. Since there is a lot to see and a lot of walking to do, it’s best to come in spring, when the weather is milder and temperatures are around 60ºF, also with less tourists.
Getting around in Istanbul
Atatürk Airport receives planes from around the world, especially the west, whilst Sabiha Gökçen receives those that come or go to Asia. Non-EU citizens will need to purchase a visa on arrival at the airport. The city has an efficient and cheap public transport network with buses, trams and metros. Make sure you buy the Istanbulkart ticket during your holidays in Istanbul to save money. Taxis are also more expensive, especially if you’re a tourist.
Festivals in Istanbul
May 19th is Turkish National Day, with the commemoration of the movement started by former president Atatürk, and celebrations and events take place all over the city presided by the Turkish flag. At the end of May it’s also Conquest Week Celebration, celebrating the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed II, with recreations of 15th-century battles. Ramadan also takes place in Turkey, so don’t miss the evening feasting as it is delicious.