Things to do in Istanbul
In a city filled with architecture and historic buildings, the sheer number of possibilities can be overwhelming for visitors. Topkapi Palace is a great place to start. This Ottoman Empire era palace complex offers visitors a glimpse into the life of the Ottoman Sultans. The residence of the Ruling Elite for centuries, this palace now holds a museum and many mysterious secrets. Over the years the palace housed up to 4,000 people and was constantly being changed to suit the tastes of the city's rulers. This token of the Imperial era is widely regarded as one of the best and most complete collections of Ottoman Era swords, armour, porcelain, weapons and manuscripts.
Galata Tower is a Medieval stone tower in the city's north corner. This striking landmark can be seen on the skyline all over the city, and this 9 story structure offers a restaurant, an abudance of history and stunning views of the city.
Bazaars and Markets
The Grand Bazaar (covered market) began trading in 1455 and is one of the oldest in the world, with approximately 400 stalls and attracting up to 400,000 visitors a day. Luring in shopaholics for centuries, this bazaar is known as one of the world's first shopping centres.
This is a great place to see the sights and society of Turkey, watch the locals shop and pick up some fantastic souvenirs to take home. This is one of the largest employers of locals in all of Turkey, so be sure to taste some of the amazing traditional recipes and add some regional colour to your Turkish visit.
After a hard day's shopping and sightseeing, Istanbul still offers visitors plenty to stimulate the senses after dark. Beyoğlu is the nightclub hub and beating heart of the city's bar scene, consisting of an ever-changing array of bars, cafes, nightclubs featuring the best international DJs. Rooftop bars are the latest trend and the Leb-i Derya is a popular local hotspot.
Across the river, the Kadikoy area has a fantastic underground music scene and is great if you have money to throw around. Plus there's the added bonus of running into celebrities at these exclusive clubs. Furthermore, there is now a new generation of dance bars, music clubs and on-trend restaurants all with fabulous views of the skyline. For those into live music, you can find live indie musicians and acts playing in art clubs, museums and gallerys.
The Bosphorus is a stretch of water that runs through Istanbul, separating the continents of Europe and Asia. Visitors to the strait can take boat rides, cruises, ferries and sightseeing tours which pass by the modern art museum, three bridges and a variety of Ottoman palaces.
Turkish hamams are steeped in tradition and ritual. Head on in, choose your treatment level, sit back and relax. Half steam room, half spa treatment, Turkish baths are a very special luxury. The Çemberlitaş Hamam is one of the oldest and most beautiful, be sure to make time to enjoy bathing under a huge dome bathed in sunlight.