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Hotel Amira Istanbul
Hotel Amira Istanbul

Kucuk Ayasofya Mahallesi Mustafa, Istanbul 34122

4.8 out of 5 (855 reviews)

Located in Fatih, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Hippodrome, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sophia. Blue Mosque …

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Pera Palace Hotel, Jumeirah - Special Class
Pera Palace Hotel, Jumeirah - Special Class

Mesrutiyet Cad. No. 52, Istanbul 34430

5.0 out of 5.0
4.7 out of 5 (322 reviews)

This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the historical district, within a 10-minute walk of Pera Museum and Galat …

£92
Hotel Arcadia Blue Istanbul
Hotel Arcadia Blue Istanbul

Dr. Imran Oktem Cad. No:1, Istanbul 34440

4.0 out of 5.0
4.5 out of 5 (344 reviews)

Located in Fatih, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Whirling Dervishes Istanbul, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sophia. …

£45
Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel
Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel

Divanyolu Cd. Alemdar Mah., Istanbul 34122

5.0 out of 5.0
4.3 out of 5 (743 reviews)

Located in Old City, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, and Cagaloglu Hamami. …

£70
10 Karaköy, A Morgans Original - Special Class
10 Karaköy, A Morgans Original - Special Class

Kemeralti Caddesi No: 10, Istanbul 34425

5.0 out of 5.0
4.6 out of 5 (97 reviews)

Located in Galata, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of SALT Galata and Galata Tower. Mixer and Spice Bazaar are …

£44
Bricks Airport Hotel Istanbul
Bricks Airport Hotel Istanbul

Zafer Mah. Dumlupinar Cad. No. 42, Istanbul 34197

Located in the heart of Istanbul, this hotel is 2.9 mi (4.6 km) from Atakoy Marina and 3 mi (4.8 km) from Istanbul Aydın …

£36
Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul
Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul

Sinanpasa Mah, Hayrettin Iskelesi Sok, Istanbul 34353

5.0 out of 5.0
4.6 out of 5 (88 reviews)

Located in Besiktas, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Maritime Museum and Dolmabahce Palace. Taksim Square and …

£134
Ottoman Hotel Imperial - Special Class
Ottoman Hotel Imperial - Special Class

Caferiye Sok. No. 6/1, Istanbul 34400

4.0 out of 5.0
4.3 out of 5 (751 reviews)

Located in Old City, this romantic hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia. Hippodrome and …

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Divan Istanbul
Divan Istanbul

Asker Ocagi Cad. No:1 Taksim, Istanbul 34367

5.0 out of 5.0
4.5 out of 5 (257 reviews)

This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in a shopping district, within a 15-minute walk of Taksim Square and Dot. …

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Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class
Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class

Piyer Loti Cad No:7, Istanbul 34122

4.0 out of 5.0
4.4 out of 5 (348 reviews)

Located in Fatih, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Cemberlitas Bath and Hippodrome. Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaa …

£61

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Pocket Guide: Istanbul

A tale of two continents

Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world that lies on two continents. With one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, it's no wonder the city is so cosmopolitan and culturally diverse. As the former capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires, Istanbul has an expansive history that spans many centuries. Throughout its different incarnations, Istanbul has been called both Byzantium and Constantinople. Whichever name you know it by, Istanbul is simply incredible.

While many of the most visited sightseeing attractions reside on the European side of Istanbul, including the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya, and Topkapi Palace, the more residential Asian (or Anatolian) side also has its own unique charms. Be sure to explore the beauty of both sides to make your trip to Istanbul complete.

From the Blue Mosque to the Grand Bazaar

One of Istanbul's nicknames is the 'the city on seven hills.' Like Rome, the Istanbul of antiquity was built on seven hills, each with religious monuments, in both the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

Today you will still find many stunning sights on these hills. Topkapi Palace was the former royal residence of the Ottoman sultans. Set by the sea and overlooking the Golden Horn, today's Topkapi Palace is open to the public as a museum, with four primary courtyards and a wealth of treasures. Wander through leafy gardens and airy libraries, an imperial harem, and impressive gilded pavilions.

Head for another hill and the Grand Bazaar awaits you. One of the largest covered markets in the world, featuring more than 6,000 stalls, the Grand Bazaar is a mecca for shoppers. Jewellery, spices, carpets, and pottery combine to create a seemingly endless range of tempting items. Test your bargaining skills or just enjoy a stroll around the structure itself, which seems almost like a palace.

Side by side are two other must-see Istanbul sights. The beautiful mosaics and massive dome of the 1400-year old Aya Sofya leave visitors mesmerized. Equally extravagant is the working Blue Mosque whose six slender minarets are one of the most famous components of Istanbul's skyline.

Illuminated Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the oldest cities in the world and with such a long and rich legacy it would be easy to tour only the city's historical wonders. However, present-day Istanbul is one of the most vibrant, sophisticated, and cosmopolitan places on earth and no visit would be complete without experiencing what the modern city has to offer. An evening out could include cuisine from all corners of the world (though be sure to try the sumptuous mezzes and kebabs), cocktails at an elegant bar on the Bosphorus, and clubbing until dawn. Istanbul at night is a beautiful sight.

Take some time for leisure, too, like a traditional Turkish bath or a cruise down the Bosphorus Strait. One visit to Istanbul could never suffice and how could it? There are two continents to explore! So slow down and sip some fragrant mint tea, while you plan your return visit.