Turkey's old capital city Istanbul is a real experience for the senses – from culture, to cuisine, to nightlife and shopping – this bustling city really does have it all. Located on both sides of the Bosphorus, Istanbul is one of the largest cities in Europe and its impressive skyline is a mix of minarets and domes, mingling with modern skyscrapers. A visit to the Grand Bazaar is a must for some retail therapy - be sure to haggle, it's expected - while the Egyptian/Spice Market is place for authentic Turkish Delight and ingredients to recreate the city's spicy cuisine at home. Sultanhamet Square in the Old Town is a good starting point to explore the cultural delights of Istanbul, including the Topkapi Palace, Haghia Sophia, the Byzantine Hippodrome and the Blue Mosque. Be sure to take some time to enjoy a traditional Turkish tea or coffee or go native and enjoy a water-pipe. With so much to offer in one city, it's easy to see why a city break in Istanbul is a popular choice.
You'll be spoilt for things to do during a holiday in Istanbul. Enjoy an organised city tour around the mustsee sights and or explore yourself on foot. Walk along the city walls that stretch for 4 miles and encompass the Old City, from the Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara. Go shopping in the Grand Bazaar and enjoy the wonders of the Egyptian Spice Market. Take a cruise on the Bosphorous towards the Black Sea, enjoying palaces, castles and Ottoman villages along the way. A traditional hamman will massage away a day's sightseeing. A visit to the nearby Princes' Islands is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city.
Istanbul really comes to life after dark with a wide range of bars, clubs and live music venues to enjoy. Don't miss a visit to an old meyhane, the Turkish version of a tapas bar, to enjoy meze, drink raki and dance to traditional fasil folk music. The Galata Bridge is the link between the two parts of the city and its lower deck is home to many bars, restaurants and teahouses the perfect place to enjoy a drink and watch the boats go by.
You'll find lots of choices to tempt your palate on a holiday in Istanbul. Turkish specialities include kebabs, meze, Turkish delight and baklava. You'll also find a wide range of international restaurants, serving food from Italy, China and India, as well as the odd fast food joint. Try some traditional Turkish fruit tea or some strong coffee, while a glass of raki will warm you.
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