Istanbul is a city which everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople it has been the capital of three Empires, and each empire has left their mark in the form of stunning palaces, castles, mosques, churches and monuments. The legacy of its chequered past can be seen in every corner of this modern city.
Most visitors on short city breaks stay in the old town as the vast majority of the sites which they will be visiting are in this area. İstanbul's most famous tourist sites - The Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmet Cami, Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia), Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) and the Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) - are all within a 30 minute walk of each other.
Although it is convenient, the disadvantage of staying in the Old Town is that since it is not a residential area, you don't really benefit from the ambience of the modern city of İstanbul, with its fantastic restaurants, lively bars, and cosmopolitan feel. Some of İstanbul's finest, most luxurious hotels are located on the Bosphorus with stunning views from the rooms, or in the modern business districts. There are also some historic establishments in the area known as Pera, which blossomed at the turn of the last century. The heart of modern İstanbul is Taksim Square and the streets surrounding it. The advantage of staying here is that in the evenings you have a large selection of restaurants and relaxed bars within an easy walk of your hotel.
Wherever you choose to stay, it doesn't take much to make the most of the city, and even a three day stay gives you the opportunity to see the highlights. It is such a large city that even if you visit time and time again, you can still discover something new each time.
If you’re looking for somewhere to dine, we’d recommend Caferiye Sokak, Develi and Konuk Evi. There are many more amazing restaurants in Istanbul as well, but these are our top three.
If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a few drinks then we’d recommend the Irish pub “James Joyce” and 5 Kat. James Joyce is the best Irish pub in the city.
When in Istanbul…
Make sure to visit the Blue Mosque, Sultan Ahmet Cami, Aya Sofya, the Topkapi Sayi Palace and the Grand Bazaar! They’re all within a 30 minute walk of each other, so visiting them is perfect for day trips out.