Istanbul tourism is dreamy and transcendental, so explore it with your mind’s eye! This holiday destination is filled with palaces, mosques, ruins of the past, minarets, museums, great Ottoman structures, narrow alleys, cobbled streets, quarters of the poor, spice bazaars and the beautiful Bosphorus. There’s a looming presence of the past in its every nook and cranny.

Istanbul is Turkey’s most populous city, its cultural and financial hub. Located on both sides of the Bosphorus, Istanbul bridges Asia and Europe both physically and culturally. The Bosphorus is the city’s lifeline so we recommend the full-day cruise in a public ferry with the locals. Enjoy the views of the Dolmabache Palace, the Sabanci University, and the Rumeli Fortress, feed the seagulls, and chat with your fellow passengers. The famous Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk once wrote, “To be traveling through the middle of a city as great, historic and forlorn as Istanbul, and yet to feel the freedom of the open sea – that is the thrill of a trip along the Bosphorus… to see the city house by house, neighborhood by neighborhood, and also from afar, as a silhouette, an ever-mutating mirage.”

Istanbul’s old city is best explored walking, so keep a day in hand when you can explore the Blue Mosque with its beautiful six minarets, the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaars with its lanes and by lanes and hundreds of interesting shops. In the evenings spend some time at Istiklal Street near Taksim Square and ride the famous Galatasaray Red Tram car of Istanbul. And if you’re someone who prefers a quiet corner, we recommend the beautiful neighborhood of Ortakoy, a beautiful suburb on the European side of the city, just below the Bosphorus Bridge. Here you can enjoy the peace and quiet over cups of tea at a Turkish café, listen to some impromptu street music and buy a box of delicious Baklava as you head back to your hotel.

Istanbul is the ideal destination for a culture lover, and if that sounds like you, let Kolkata’s leading tour operator plan your travel for you

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