What is the fastest way to get to Istanbul?
In the era of cheap flights, traveling to Istanbul is easy for everyone. The cheapest way to fly from many European cities is with Pegasus Airlines.
What to see on a city break in Istanbul?
Just a few days in Istanbul will give you the opportunity to get to know the most interesting attractions of Turkey’s largest city. One of Istanbul’s flagship monuments is the famous Hagia Sophia, a former church and museum located in the Sultanahmet district, now the city’s grand mosque. It is one of the world’s great architectural wonders and has borne silent witness to Istanbul’s history under the Roman Empire, Byzantium and the Ottoman eras.
Buy tickets for attractions in Istanbul
Visitors to Istanbul cannot leave without visiting the Sunken Cistern. This is the largest of several hundred ancient water reservoirs, which exist to this day beneath the city’s streets. Artistic souls will love the Galata Tower, which is the landmark of the district of the same name. Topped with a distinctive witch’s hat roof, the tower is one of Istanbul’s most impressive and popular landmarks. Dating back to the 14th century, this old Genoese tower has an amazing view of the Historical Peninsula, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus with the Princes’ Islands beyond.
An absolute must-see is the 17th-century Blue Mosque, considered one of the most beautiful mosques and monuments – both in Istanbul and indeed the world. Due to its grand scale and majestic character, this structure was an inspiration for many other mosques, for example, the mighty Gypjak Mosque in Turkmenistan, which is the largest mosque in Central Asia. It was the only mosque with six minarets in the world.
Visiting Istanbul will naturally lead you to a traditional Turkish market, and where better than the iconic Grand Bazaar? Dating back to Byzantine times, the Bazaar has 30 hectares of space, a total of 61 streets and over 3,500 shops selling pottery, carpets, spices and jewellery. An important point for all residents of Istanbul is Istiklal Avenue, also known as Independence Avenue. It is an almost two-kilometer-long promenade full of colourful shops, restaurants, cafes and street performances, through which a historic tram runs.
The modern face of Istanbul is, undoubtedly, Taksim Square, a cosmopolitan center that is an important communication, commercial and shopping hub for tourists. Taksim means “sharing” in Turkish and the name comes from a story about the local community’s need for water in ancient times, culminating in a warehouse being built on the site of Taksim Square to supply water to local residents.
The best food in Istanbul
Due to its geographical location, Istanbul has always attracted people from across the country. Its history as a migration hub has led to its extremely diverse cuisine, making Istanbul a culinary capital where everyone will find something to their taste.
Over 100 varieties of kebab
Coming to Istanbul and not trying a kebab is like visiting Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower – impossible! There are at least 110 different types of kebab in Turkey alone, each with its own unique flavour and regional origin. The most popular are adana kebab and urfa kebab, two similar dishes with subtle differences. Large amounts of hot red pepper flakes are added to the Adana meat mix, giving it a deep red color and a fiery flavour.
We also recommend sampling the absolute culinary hit of Anatolian cuisine, foe example the ciğer kebab, which is made from liver. Vegetarians will love çiğ köfte, delicious cutlets made of bulgur and tomato paste with Turkish spices.
Turkish tea – the drink of the Gods
Çay, or Turkish tea, will accompany every interaction during your stay in Istanbul. Turkish people are real tea fanatics, with annual tea consumption in Turkey standing at up to three kilograms per person! The best tea bushes in Turkey can be found near the town of Rize on the Black Sea coast.
Genius is in simplicity. According to the Ottoman explorer Evliya Celebi, the name lahmacun comes from the Arabic word lahm-i acinli. This is a type of pastry made of lahm (meat) and ajin, a paste. The phenomenal popularity of this dish is evidenced by the fact that the Turkish have been eating it continuously for 300 years. The paste consists of low-fat minced meat mixed with tomato paste, garlic and spices, spread onto a thin piece of pita dough – it can also be made spicier on request. It is hard not to notice similarities with the popular Italian dish, hence the common name “Turkish pizza”.
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Turkish sweets – heaven for the tastebuds
Turkey is famous for probably the sweetest snacks in the world. Kadayif, semolina desserts in syrup and Turkish halva are served with ice cream all over Istanbul. There are so many dishes that can be eaten at the end of, or between meals that make Turkey a real paradise for sweet-toothed visitors. Turkey’s rich dessert culture includes baklava, dairy desserts, stuffed buns and fruit, pumpkin, or nut ice creams. Counteract the sweetness with a slightly salty Turkish bread roll called simit.