Flight and hotel Istanbul
Explore Asia and Europe On a Trip to Istanbul
Though not the capital of Turkey, Istanbul is the country's largest city and its centre of fashion, culture, and the arts. Technically spanning both Asia and Europe, visitors can explore magnificent, historic attractions such as the Galata Tower, Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque. Take in the wonderful panoramic landscapes of the city from a cruise on the mighty Bosphorus River before heading off the Grand Bazaar for some shopping and local cuisine.
What to Know Before Visiting Istanbul
Istanbul has two large international airports. However, Atatürk Airport is the principal hub and the majority of flights to Istanbul will arrive here. The most economical way to reach the city centre is via the public metro, but buses and taxis from outside the terminal buildings are also readily available. As you plan your flight from Dublin to Istanbul or from Cork to Istanbul, you can easily apply for a visa online before travel, but it's also possible to simply pay the low fee and obtain the tourist visa upon arrival at the airport. The local currency is the Turkish lira, and Istanbul is 3 hours ahead of the United Kingdom (GMT+3).
When Is the Best Time to Visit Istanbul?
March to May, and then again from September to November, are great seasons for package holidays in Istanbul. During these spring and autumn months the crowds are more manageable and temperatures are typically ideal for sightseeing during your Istanbul city break. However, it rarely drops below freezing in this city, and the city's stunning skyline looks beautiful in the rare snow; consider a winter excursion as an alternate time to travel.
What Is There to Do During City Breaks in Istanbul?
This city is famous for being the only metropolis in the world which spans two continents. A boat ride across the Bosphorus to visit the Asian side, or vice versa depending on where you are staying during your weekend in Istanbul, is a must. While the majority of the main attractions are located in the European half of the city, a stroll through the narrow streets of the Asian side is a wonderful way to spend the morning. The short ferry ride, which is part of the city's public transportation system, also offers great views.
The Grand Bazaar has no fewer than 5000 different shops and plenty of restaurants, where you can stop for a bite to eat once you've exhausted your credit card (vendors accept a mix of credit cards and cash, so keep both on hand for shopping). The medieval Galata Tower, located in the hip Galata neighbourhood, is one of the most iconic attractions to see on a weekend in Istanbul. Enjoy sweeping vistas from the top, and there's a cafe on the ninth floor where you can stop for a refreshing beverage.
What Places Should I Visit In Istanbul?
The majority of Istanbul's noteworthy attractions are buildings with an ecclesiastical heritage. The top sites on most itineraries are Hagia Sophia, Topkap? Palace, and the Sultanahmet Mosque. They're all located around Sultanahmet Square and boast a range of different architectural styles dating back to the Ottoman, Roman, and Byzantine Empires. City breaks in Istanbul also offer plenty of art and cultural attractions:
- The Basilica Cistern is an incredible 6th century cistern located beneath the city streets, near the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque.
- The Istanbul Archaeology Museums, a group of three museums, are home to exhibitions on almost all of global civilizations and history.
- The Istanbul Modern focuses on contemporary Turkish art, housed in a sleek, new building.
- The Galata Whirling Dervish Hall hosts regular performances of uniquely impressive whirling dervishes.
What to Eat In Istanbul
A flight and hotel in Istanbul offer endless treats for culinary lovers. As with most facets of this city, the food is a confluence of east and west. Modern European and American dishes are ubiquitous but the real joy is tucking into juicy kebabs, menemen (Turkish omelette), and mezze plates (small dishes of typical appetizers). On the banks of the river, just below the Galata Tower, pick up a fish sandwich from local vendors. Package holidays in Istanbul are also not complete without a glass of thick, dark Turkish coffee and a slice of sticky, sweet baklava.
What to Bring Home From Istanbul
Depending what you can fit in your suitcase when you plan your flight and hotel for Istanbul, you should at the very least pick up a box of soft and sweet Turkish delight. Tea and coffee are another two culinary treats, and spices, including saffron, can be bought inexpensively at many stalls and markets. Locally-woven textiles, like Turkish towels, are colourful, practical, and pretty.