Welcome to the wonderful city of Istanbul, where centuries of history and culture come to life every day. The incredible mix of Roman history, Byzantine architecture and Muslim customs give this place a vibrant and exciting atmosphere to be found nowhere else. Get ready for the experience of a lifetime!
The first sight on your list should be the Hagia Sophia, once Turkey’s most important mosque and now a religious and cultural museum. Over 1600 years old, this building will let you walk through centuries of history, going from the Roman to the Byzantine to the Ottoman empire. Though simply walking around is more than enough fun, a history lover will very much benefit from a guided tour.
For the shopping lovers, you’ll have a blast getting lost in the many corridors of the Grand Bazaar. From handmade leather purses and bags to authentic rugs and gold jewelry, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to put your haggling skills to practice. Remember that in this country, haggling is a common practice and nothing to be ashamed of, so go for it!
Turkey is also known for its many luxurious bath houses (if you want a peek at one of the most famous ones, take a virtual tour at www.cagalogluhamami.com.tr). After the hustle and bustle of the Grand Bazaar, you will want some time to relax and let your hair down, so why not go for a steam bath? Indulge in a long, relaxing bath in these centuries-old architectural wonders, and follow it up with a soothing massage. You’ll feel like a true Sultan after the experience. And if you want to continue relaxing, you can try one of Turkey’s many five-star hotels, like the Park Hyatt Istanbul – MaçkaPalas. A good night’s sleep is guaranteed.
If you are a gourmet traveller, then Istanbul is the right place for you. You can start your day with a warm cup of Turkish coffee, thicker, richer and more aromatic than any coffee you’ve tasted before. Turkish coffee is great with lokum, a local sweet paste crammed with pistachios, dates and nuts, or with a generous slice of baklava dripping with honey. For lunch you could have some delicious dolma, which are vine leaves stuffed with rice and many different vegetables, slowly cooked in olive oil. For dinner, you might want to try an authentic Turkish kebab. You’ll find so many types of kebabs it will be hard to choose one!
When you start to feel overwhelmed by the city, you can sail away on a short getaway trip to the Prince Islands, a hidden jewel in the Marmarean Sea. After stepping off the ferry you’ll find yourself in a completely different world, where no cars are allowed, people walk without bumping into each other and you can actually hear the birds chirping. Visit one of the island’s many parks and reconnect with nature!
So what are you waiting for? Istanbul will be the experience of a lifetime!