Istanbul, the largest city and principal seaport of Turkey, is a magical meeting point of the east and west. This ancient city was once the capital of both the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire and is traveller’s delight with some of the world’s finest historical and architectural monuments, such as the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.
One is in awe here of the ancient churches and mosques with gold ceilings, finely painted mosaics and tiles, sparkling chandeliers, and of museums that treasure chapters of history and streets and neighbourhoods that have seen the rise and fall of empires.
To savour Istanbul’s history and culture, to appreciate its traditional markets, cuisine and architecture, you must explore Flying Squirrel Holidays’ Istanbul tour packages from India and Turkey tour packages. Get your Turkey tour packages customised suiting your personal preferences!
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Istanbul has a wonderful combination of both Islamic and Mediterranean mix of cultures. Located between the continents of Europe and Asia, Istanbul has access to both the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, linked by the Bosphorus Strait. The broader Bosporus divides European Istanbul from the city’s districts on the Asian shore.
Istanbul’s remarkably rich history, culture and tasty Turkish cuisine will make you fall in love with this city. The city skyline can be viewed from the tall Galata tower, one of the most identifiable spots in Istanbul.
The Sultanahmet Square is Istanbul’s old city, once the centre of social and political activities of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Here you will find the 6th-century majestic Hagia Sophia with its vast dome, colourful marble columns, Islamic art and glittering Christian mosaics.
Istanbul is also home to the greatest markets in the world. Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. They are filled with spices and souvenirs, such as Turkish lamps and carpets and a range of mouth-watering Turkish sweets.
Istanbul’s streets and neighbourhoods, such as the Taksim Square and Istiklal are also legendary, full of places to eat, cafes, bars and nightclubs. Here you can spend hours in a cafe enjoying the Turkish coffee and taste baklava, a traditional sweet.
The historical tram ride in Istiklal Street is a great way to feel the city’s pulse. The neighbourhood of Balat is also worth a visit and is full of colourful old houses and churches.
This bazaar is truly grand with over 4000 shops and numerous alleys and streets. Located in the Faith district, the Grand Bazaar is a place one can get lost easily.
This huge market has both luxury options and budget choices. As you walk through a shopping street at the Bazaar, you will be greeted with the hustle-bustle of bargains and chatter from the shopkeepers and customers.
From dazzling gold and silver jewellery choices to spices and even rugs, the Grand Bazaar has everything for your needs!
Between the shopping adventure, one can pause and quench their hunger pangs at various restaurants, tea shops and street food stalls.
You can sip on a cup of Turkish coffee at Sark Kahvesi or have a hearty meal at Aynen Durum. The Bazaar is a hotspot for a variety of souvenir collection.
Antique shops consist of paintings, mirrors, globes, tableware are incredibly popular. Turkish motifs on handmade scarves, stockings, and gloves are also a must-buy item in the Bazaar. The bazaar is truly a shopper’s paradise.
This museum has a collection of over a million items from the Mesopotamia times, pre–Islamic Egypt and Arabian Peninsula. This museum has three museums in itself and was the first museum in the country. Situated south of the Topkapi Palace, the museum takes one through the journey of the ancient past.
Inside the first museum, you will come across the world’s oldest books dating back to 2300 BC. The Tiled Pavilion is an old building within the museum and consists of Ottoman tiles and remarkable ceramics as old as the 12th century.
The statues and the columns at the Archaeological museum will show you the perfect sculpting of an era so preciously preserved. As you enter the upper floors, you will find exhibits of artefacts from different periods and regions.
Istanbul Modern is the country’s first private museum and is home to a variety of contemporary art forms. Istanbul Modern is also known as the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. The museum aims at providing modern and contemporary art from all over the world and exhibit to the lovers of art.
The museum promotes Turkey’s identity in the global art world and hosts numerous activities such as art educational programmes, and social programmes. One can also visit the extensive library, which is constantly updated with modern and variety of art styles and artists.
One can even grab a beautiful souvenir from the souvenir shop in the museum or admire the aesthetic of the place while sipping on Turkish coffee at the café in the building.
Take a cruise ride on the popular Bosphorus cruises and see various popular sites along your way such as the Galata bridge.
Take a tour of the beautiful city on a Hop-on Hop-off Tour Bus and explore the city intimately as you ride along the various districts and neighbourhood.
Watch the miraculous Whirling Dervishes show and witness the spectacular view.
Go on a museum-hopping experience as the city houses over 80 museums and art galleries.
Learn about the unique variety of sea creatures at the Aquarium Sea Life Istanbul
Go shopping at the Grand Bazaar or the Spice bazaar both immensely popular because of the large variety of options available.
Enjoy a street stroll at the famous Istiklal Street, which also consists of various tourist spots like Pera Museum and Madame Tussaud's wax Museum.
Experience the authentic experience at the Turkish bath, locally known as Hammam and relax your body amidst the travel.
Go biking at Sultanahmet and explore the central tourist spots.
The palace was graced by the royal Ottoman Sultans. It worked as a residence and an administrative headquarter for the Ottoman empire. This UNESCO World Heritage site showcases the rich Islamic traditional designs.
The elaborate motifs on the ceilings of the courtyard or the Rococo style décor in the palace give an enchanting experience. The palace now serves as a museum with highlights being the famous Harem, the Second Court, Palace Kitchens, the Imperial Council Chamber, and finally, the Third Court.
Upon reaching the end of the garden, a spectacular view of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorous awaits you.
Hagia Sophia means “Holy Wisdom” in Greek. This iconic site was earlier a church and also a museum. Presently, Hagia Sophia is a mosque and is the biggest shrine in the globe.
The enormous mosque dominates the beautiful Istanbul skyline and is rightly named as the eighth wonder of the world. The building is covered with remarkable Ottoman calligraphy and majestic gold mosaics.
Hagia Sophia uniquely displays an incredible fusion of Christian and Islamic architecture. Guided tours are available at mosque. The beautiful appearance of the mosque makes one wonder if it was really built by human hands!
The mosque is open for visit day and night and entry is free. The afternoon hours which is the non-prayer hours are considered to be the best time of the day to visit this remarkable creation.
Sultan Ahmed Camii or the Blue Mosque is an impressive symbol of the city. This holy place is adorned with over ten thousand Iznik tiles.
It was built during the 1600s and is a great depiction of the Ottoman architecture. The mesmerizing view of the mosque during dusk with the recitation of Quran brings out a state of tranquillity.
Visitors are often confused about the specific blue in the mosque, which is not very visible from the outside. However, as one walks inside one will be surprised to see the mosque studded with blue tiles everywhere!
Unlike any traditional mosque with two or four minarets, the Blue Mosque stands tall flaunting its six minarets. The mosque is a five-minute walk from Hagia Sophia and one can also explore the beautiful garden in the area while heading towards the mosque
This imperial structure depicts Baroque, Neoclassical and Rococo style of architecture and was built by 1856. This is the largest palace in the country and was a residence of the Ottomans. The palace consists of the most extravagant chandeliers in the world made of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal.
This stunning palace is adorned with 14 tonnes of gold in just the ceiling. The palace also shows an influence of the European style. As you walk through the Dining Hall in the palace, you will be fascinated with the lavish furnishing, carved from rosewood, mahogany and ebony.
Other attraction within the territory of the palace is the Dolmabahce Mosque and the Clock Tower, located just outside the palace.
The tower is locally called Galata Kulesi. This century-old medieval structure provides a scenic beauty of the city. At the backdrop of the tower lies the important Istanbul symbols such as the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Historical Peninsula.
It is a nine-storeyed monument standing tall at 67 metres of height. This historical tower now has a restaurant at the top serving traditional Turkish delicacies and also has Turkish dance performances.
One is sure to have a splendid dining experience and entertainment with a lovely view of the city!
This gigantic hall that often looks like a palace is located beneath the beautiful city of Istanbul. Famed as a Sunken Palace, Basilica Cistern was used as a water filtration system providing water to the buildings around and has a capacity to store 80,000 cubic meters of water.
This beautiful attraction has 336 marble columns in 12 rows, each with 4.9 metres of distance between them; depicting intricate symmetry. Two columns’ bases appear to be the head of Medusa, which is an iconic symbol from the Byzantine era.
There are 52 steps leading one to this mystical underground palace. The palace has also been a popular spot for shooting Hollywood film sequence!
Hippodrome is a Greek word consisting of Hippos meaning horses and Dromos meaning path, since it was earlier a racing path for the horses. It is located in the Square of the Blue Mosque. It was a sporting event and social centre during the Byzantine era.
The Hippodrome is a remnant of the past that has witnessed an array of events such as propaganda activities, rebellions, and even chariot races. Several structures in the Hippodrome did not survive, however, prominent monuments such as Serpent Column, Obelisk of Thutmose III, Walled Obelisk and Statues of Porphyrios are the ones to not miss.
One of the most breath-taking mosques in Istanbul. It is a masterpiece by the famous architect Sinan and was built between 1549 to 1575 for the emperor Suleyman the Magnificent. The mosque is located on a hill in Sultanahmet district.
The outside of the mosque is a magical scenic garden surrounding the Ottoman cemetery and consists of the tombs of the Sultan Suleyman and his wife.
The mosque has a main dome surrounded with smaller ones around. It consists of four minarets and the inside of the mosque is stunning with the ancient Iznik tiles. Located in Bosphorous, this mosque is a free site to visit.
Flying Squirrel Holidays custom makes your Istanbul city tour itineraries as per your personal preferences as we believe your travel should be planned specifically keeping you in mind.
You can explore our Turkey Tour Packages, or customise your own by contacting Flying Squirrel Holidays! For your reference, we are providing you with a sample Itinerary.
Day 1Start your Day 1 in Istanbul at Sultanahmet. Day 1 will be about mosques; Hagia Sofia and Topkapi Palace are the places to visit today. After the two prime tourist spots, head over to Basilica Cistern, Constantinople Hippodrome and the Blue Mosque. Have lunch at House of Medusa in Sultanahmet, which offers a beautiful view of a garden. Have an adventure-filled day by trying the traditional baklava from Efezade Baklava. Spend your dinner at Midpoint on Istiklal Avenue.
Day 2Start your day at Grand Bazaar and shop to your heart's content. Have lunch at the traditional Pide. Next, reach the Spice Bazaar, absorb the atmosphere around the area, and explore Istanbul life. Cross the Galata Bridge and have dinner at the Galata Kitchen.
Day 3Have the multi-course meal at Privato Café. Then hop on to visit the beautiful Dolmabahçe Palace. Around the palace is Taksim Square, and try the popular Borek dish. Explore the surrounding shopping area and the wine and dine options. Have dinner at Guney Restaurant near the Galata Tower. End your day with a fascinating traditional dessert at Viyana Kahvesi.
Day 4Start day 4 at a slower pace and have lunch in Karaköy, the best place to explore the Turkish cuisines of Istanbul. After lunch, explore the area, which is filled with cafes and restaurants.
Day 5For the last day in Istanbul, explore the Asian side of the city in Kadiköy, which can be visited via a ferry ride from Karaköy or Eminönü. This place has numerous shopping sites as well as restaurants. Have lunch at Viktor Levi Winebar and enjoy the grilled meat. After lunch explore the Marmara Sea, arrive at Park Ici Yolu, and have peaceful evening by strolling around the scenic view. Return to mainland Istanbul and end your day with the yummy Dürüm at Dürümzade.
Please email me a copy of the sample itinerary
The cost of a trip to Istanbul widely depends on a few important factors which pertain to any trip one plans, that is, how early or close to the travel date you have booked the tickets and if it is an off-season or not. Preferences of your stay can make a huge impact on the cost of your trip.
Customise your trip with the Flying Squirrel Holidays’ Istanbul Tour packages from India and grab the best deal possible for your next trip.
What is the cheapest month to fly to Turkey?
The best time to visit Turkey is October or November, which are usually the months when the airfare is the cheapest. It is during this time when the hotel tariffs are relatively lower. Winters are more expensive, however; the country can be a beautiful winter sports destination.
What should I buy in Istanbul?
Glass lamps, Turkish towels, coffee pots, soap, and carpets and rugs, are few things that you must buy in Istanbul.
Is it safe to travel to Istanbul?
Istanbul and Ankara are the two cities that have been declared safe to travel to in Turkey.
Istanbul is a wonderfully rich and ancient city of Turkey, attracting millions of people every year to have a vibrant and soul soothingly relaxing experience. The artistic treasures of three empires that ruled in the city, make the city one of a kind. The impeccable architectural design of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia is something you cannot miss. Galata tower’s scenic views of this stunning city will be a moment to remember. Basilica Cistern, Miniaturk, Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar are some of the best sites to visit in Istanbul. The richness of the cuisine is diverse as the cultural history of the city. Visit this historical city and be sure to feel the culturally rich atmosphere in the air.
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