Once serving as the capital of the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, Istanbul today is the largest city in Turkey and one of the largest in the world. Istanbul stretches across both sides of the Bosphorus, a narrow strait that connects Asia and Europe, making it the only city in the world spanning two continents. Impressive architecture, historic sites, dining, shopping, nightlife and exotic atmosphere all make Istanbul one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
Istanbul may be a large city, but tourists can easily get around by metro, public buses, trams and ferries. The Old City is where most of the city’s impressive historic sites are found, which include the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Another important district is New City, known for its modern day attractions, businesses, skyscrapers and shopping malls. Beyoglu and Galata are popular zones for nightlife and entertainment, while the Bosphorus area is home to beautiful palaces, waterfront mansions and urban parks.
There is no shortage of exciting things to see and do in Istanbul. A shopping affair not to be missed is the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. Visiting a Turkish bath is also a great way to experience the local culture. The nightlife scene in Istanbul abounds in numerous restaurants, pubs and nightclubs to suit every budget and preference.