The capital of Turkey, Istanbul, has been a major world city for centuries. Straddling the Bosphorus Strait where Europe meets Asia, Istanbul’s geographical position has made it a key destination on one of the world’s great trade routes. It has also been the capital of both the Roman and Ottoman empires, making it a city that has had as much impact on the history of the world is just about any other.
It has taken thousands of years to make Istanbul what it is today. But there's more to the city than its past, however impressive that may be. Modern Istanbul is a huge metropolis with a population in excess of 15 million where many different cultures collide. No matter how many times you visit, Istanbul will always reward you with something new to experience.
A weekend in Istanbul
8 Best Ways to Experience Istanbul in 2023
This is an ancient city where many cultures have left their mark over the centuries. Here, modern skyscrapers contrast with rich historical heritage and you will find unusual and fascinating aspects to everything from cuisine to architecture.
This is a fast-moving and bustling city and if you're going to appreciate it fully, you are first going to need to free yourself of cumbersome bags. Bounce luggage services are at your disposal. They have partnered with trusted businesses around the world so that travelers have local and accessible places to safely store their luggage whilst they enjoy their exotic adventures.
Best Segway tour — Segway Tours Istanbul
This is a large city with an extraordinary abundance of things to do and see. It can also be warm here. One way to keep your cool and cover lots of mileage is to glide about the city effortlessly while standing comfortably on a Segway. This company offers a variety of tours accompanied by friendly and knowledgeable guides who will be able to show you aspects of the city you may not have found on your own.
Tours include guided Old City experiences, full-day tours, and evening tours. If none of those meets your requirements perfectly, the company would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you and create a bespoke tour to your own specifications. You can contact them at email@example.com by calling 90-553-000-00 – 63
Best helicopter tours – Helicopter Tour Istanbul
If you are after a breath-taking way to see the city from a bird's eye point of view, Helicopter Tour Istanbul is the company you need to be talking to. They offer a variety of tours based largely on the amount of time you choose to spend in the air. As if catching the view from high in the sky isn't exciting enough, most of the tours take place with the doors off so that you really get that adrenaline pumping sensation.
This company is happy to accommodate small children for a tour that will doubtless provide them with memories they will cherish for a lifetime. They offer also offer transfers and a heli-taxi service. You can contact them by calling 90 – 533 – 969 – 09 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Best food tour — Food Trail Istanbul Tours
Istanbul is a city where Europe and Asia meet. That amalgamation of food cultures offers the gastronomic tourist plenty of mouth-watering dishes to discover. The company’s tours all weave together both local food and tradition with visits to the most beautiful and iconic sites. It is the guides, however, who will really bring the authentic Istanbul alive for you.
With names such as Tastes of Istanbul, Culinary Treasure, and The Street Food tour, you can be sure that you are in for a food adventure. Here, every dish tells a story, and your guides will help to translate those stories for you. They provide tours every day of the year so contact the company at email@example.com or call them on 90 – 507 – 712 – 68 – 65
Best boat tour — Bosphorus Tours Istanbul
It is one thing to experience a city while wandering its streets and between its buildings; it is quite another thing to experience it from the water while cruising on a luxury boat. This company has been offering cruises on the Bosphorus for many years and they have built up an unmatched depth of experience when it comes to pleasing their clients.
Whether you’re after an evening dining cruise that will show off the city lights, or you want to see the Dolmabahce and Topkapi palaces from a unique angle, Bosphorus Tours can afford you that opportunity. They offer both group and private tours, as well as hosting private events or providing yacht hire facilities. They are available 24-hours a day at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 90 – 545 – 431 – 70 – 61
Best private tour – Elite Tours Istanbul
This is a company that believes that private tours are one of the best ways for people to get to grips with the best that the city has to offer. They are quite happy to sit down with you and customize a tour to your specifications while supplementing that with their years of expert advice.
One of the most popular tours is a night-time tour where you will get to experience not only the city after dark, but more importantly perhaps, some of its delicious culinary heritage. Your guide will be able to take you to restaurants that are both authentic, and which offer fascinating traditional dishes. To find out more about this and the many other tours options they can provide, contact Elite Tours by calling 90 – 553 – 737 – 50 – 91 or by emailing them on email@example.com
Best layover tour — My Local Guide Istanbul
Here is a company with an unusual approach. Recognizing that many travelers are likely to be forced to spend long layovers in the city, they have catered specifically to that market. You just need to let them know what time you will be arriving, and how long your layover is for, and they will build a tour around you.
The guides are experts on their city and would love to share some of its timeless charm and bewitching beauty with you. Instead of being stuck in the airport, why not let them enthrall you with some of what Istanbul has to offer and then get you back to the airport in time to catch your connecting flight? Call them online 90 – 534 – 200 – 55 – 65 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Best walking tour — Private Istanbul Walking Tours
This is a company that specializes in walking tours of the city (the name probably gave that away) and they are more than pleased to host family groups. Their desire is to expose you to the city's art, gastronomy, and culture in truly exceptional ways. Not only will they help you tailor tours so that you get to see exactly what you want to see, they also don't mind if you decide to change the agenda halfway through the tour.
Most of their walks are designed to take either a half-day or a full day but even that can be discussed and customized to fit in with any other agenda that you may have. To contact them call 90 – 537 – 741 – 00 – 62 or email them email@example.com
Best historical tour — Ephesus Tour Company
Established in the touristic town of Kusadis, this company is strategically placed. It is surrounded by a plethora of famous historical towns including Aphrodisias, Ephesus, Sardis, and Troy. The seven churches mentioned in the Biblical book of Revelation are within easy striking distance and one of the most popular tours follows in the footsteps of Saint Paul when he was in this region.
In addition to providing tours, this company also offers hotel reservations, transfers, cruises, and a variety of other tourist services. They can provide tours in Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Izmir and are happy to pick you up from the airport. To find out more about what they have an offer or to book a tour contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on 90 – 507 – 313 – 74 – 34
A lifetime in Istanbul might not be enough to experience everything the city offers. A weekend can only scratch the surface. However, if you only have a couple of days in the city, you will be able to see some of the must-see attractions. Drop off any heavy bags at an Istanbul luggage storage shop to make things easier on yourself.
- The Blue Mosque is famed throughout the world for its exquisite beauty. Built in 1616, the mosque remains a house of worship today, but also attracts many nonbelievers who come to admire the magnificent architecture and artwork of this stunning building.
- Few buildings encapsulate the turbulent history of Istanbul like the Hagia Sophia. Built in 537 when the city was the Eastern Roman Empire's capital, the building has been a Byzantine church, a Catholic Cathedral, an orthodox church, and then a mosque before becoming a museum. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is unique in the world, and is a symbol of the city it occupies.
- Explore the lives of the Ottoman sultans at Topkapi Palace. Along with breathtaking views of the sea from this ancient fortification, you can also see the exquisite crown jewels and the harem where the sultan's wives used to live.
Istanbul is thousands of years old, and the layout of the city long predates motor vehicles. As a result, traveling on foot is often the best way to experience the city. Make things easier on yourself by leaving your heavy bags behind at an Istanbul bag storage. The lighter you travel, the more of this fascinating city you'll be able to see.
Off the beaten path in Istanbul
Istanbul is home to a number of attractions you simply have to see. But once you've visited the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, there's much more to enjoy in the city. And visiting less popular attractions allows you to escape the tourist crowds. Drop off your bags at an Istanbul luggage storage service and visit some of these lesser-known sites.
- See an ancient water system at the Basilica Cistern. Built in the sixth century, this vast water tank is a marvel of ancient engineering. Koi fish now swim under the feet of visitors who make their way between the impressive columns on wooden walkways. It's a truly unique thing to experience in Istanbul.
- The Prince Islands lie just off the coast of Istanbul and provide a great place to take a break. Rich in historic buildings and great restaurants, the islands are car-free, making them a great place to recharge after the sometimes hectic pace of the city.
- Istanbul is a big city. If it feels a little too big, you might be more comfortable at Miniaturk. This quirky attraction is one of the world's biggest miniature parks and re-creates many of the city's top attractions at a miniature scale. Feel like a giant as you tower over the city's monuments and get some hilarious photo opportunities.
What to do alone in Istanbul
Visiting Istanbul by yourself can seem daunting. However, it can be an extremely rewarding experience. Traveling by yourself means you get to see more of what you want to see and less of the things that you don't. It can also help you navigate the sometimes crowded parts of the city. Drop off your bags at an Istanbul luggage locker and explore for yourself.
- Dive into one of the world's oldest and largest street markets at Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. With over 4,000 stalls, this market is an absolute riot of color, fragrance, and life. Expect to haggle over any purchases you want to make. But if you go with the right mindset, there's no better place to enjoy the busy street life of the city.
- Turkish food, like all the best cuisines, is a mix of many different influences. Mediterranean dishes combine with Asian and African flavors to create an endless variety of delicious treats. Discover some of Istanbul's culinary treasures on a food tour, where you will visit some of the best eateries in the city along with other travelers.
- Enjoy an ancient Turkish tradition at a hammam, or spa. Treatments at these baths include massages, steam rooms, and even beauty treatments. Indulge yourself in this centuries-old tradition and leave feeling refreshed.
The best souvenirs in Istanbul
Istanbul offers incredible shopping opportunities, ranging from high-end boutiques and international brands to the anarchic thrill of the Grand Bazaar. Whether you are shopping for yourself or for others, it won't be hard to find unique gifts in this stunning city. For instance, tea is a huge part of Turkish culture, and you can find a stunning variety of tea sold just about anywhere. The Grand Bazaar is a great place to pick up tea and that other staple, Turkish delight, but you can also check out the spice bazaar for an authentic shopping experience. For something more lasting, pick up some Iznik ceramics to remind you of the stunning tile work of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. Iznik Classics is a great place to make sure you're getting something both authentic and high quality.