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It’s easy to lose yourself In Istanbul’s grandiose history, but modern Istanbul is a simmering metropolis, well worth a visit in its own right. The shopping is world-class and the nightlife pulsates around not one but several districts. Even though Istanbul is no longer the capital, it’s still the country’s business and cultural centre, still, the city where new trends are created.

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Turkish Baths
Vezirhan Cad. 8, Çemberlitaş, Istanbul

It is said that if you have never tried a Turkish bath then you have never been truly clean. The visitor moves through several hot rooms and finally arrives at the massage table for a real going over. Men and women bathe separately, exceptions are made at certain times for tourists. Here is one recommended bathhouse: Çemberlitaş Hamam. Situated near the Bazaar, this is the oldest hamam in town and was reputedly built by the master architect Mimar Sinan in 1584.

Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet, Istanbul

The palace of the sultans with its many courtyards and gates brings on a nostalgia for forgone times. There are several special museums in the area; highlights include the Treasure Chamber, where the famous dagger and Spoonmaker's diamond are true stars of the collection, and the harem, where the sultan’s wives and children lived (the two are not included in the ticket price to the palace).

Misir Carsisi 1, Eminönü, Istanbul

This is a lunch restaurant on the first floor of the Spice Bazaar, decorated with blue Iznik tiles. Serves traditional Turkish food with some Greek dishes.

Yakup 2
Asmalı Mescit Cd. 21/B, Istanbul

Yakup 2 is situated on a side street to Istiklâl Cad. The owner, Yakup Arslan, serves traditional meze to bohemian regulars and cultural celebrities.

İstiklal Caddesi
İstiklal Cad., Istanbul

İstiklal Caddesi is a fashionable old street in the Pera district, now called Beyoğlu. Walking down İstiklal is something every visitor does at least once because of its strategic location connecting Taksim square to Galata tower. In terms of shopping, you'll find many famous brands here, as well as smaller niche chops selling fashion items and other things to take home to remind you of your trip.


Çukurcuma, the hillside neighborhood just east of Istiklal Caddesi, attracts both serious antique collectors and lovers of thrifty antique shopping. Vintage clothing, textiles, and old books are presented amongst 19th-century Baroque furniture and floral-painted ceramics. You will definitely find something to spice up your home decor in an authentic, non-mass-market way.

Istanbul Airport (IST)
İstanbul Havalimanı, Arnavutköy, Istanbul

The new Istanbul Airport on the European side of the city is the main international airport serving Istanbul. The older Atatürk Airport permanently closed in February 2022. The airport is a major hub for Turkish Airlines. By total passenger traffic, it is the busiest airport in Europe and 13th-busiest airport in the world. It is about 40 km away from Taksim and 52 km from both Sultanahmet (historical centre on the European side of Istanbul) and Kadıköy (city centre on the Asian side). The Istanbul Airport currently operates a single terminal for domestic and international flights. Free WiFi is available at Istanbul Airport for one hour. You can register with your phone number or using your passport at WiFi kiosks. The most popular mode of transportation to the airport from the city centre is by HAVAİST busses. They have stations throughout the city, including next to Taksim Square. You can buy your ticket online (at least 6 hours in advance) or pay by card when you board. Price depends on your destination. The new M11 metro line is scheduled to open in August 2022. Another from Halkalı on the Marmaray rail line is expected to be completed in 2022. Istanbul city taxis are readily available 24 hours a day outside the arrival and departure areas of the airport. A trip to Istanbul city centre by taxi takes approximately 40 minutes.

Public Transport

There is one public and one private bus network, IETT and Halk Otobus, respectively. The underground, Tünel, runs from Karaköy till Istiklâl Cad in Beyoglu and takes a few minutes. There is also a museum tram up toward Taksim Square. Another tram route goes from Kabatas via Galata bridge and the Spice Bazaar to the south-western suburbs. The Metro goes from Taksim north to Levent and from Aksaray to Otogar in Esenler, where buses depart for other parts of Turkey and Europe and to the airport. Dolmuses are minibuses or large taxis that depart when they are full, and stop where you want them to. They are the cheapest form of transport. Ferries between Europe and Asia leave from Eminönü, Karaköy and Besiktas to Üsküdar, Kadiköy and Harem. Akbil is a type of payment card that can be loaded with various sums and used on buses, boats and trams. Can be bought at major junctions.

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