Istanbul – The Only City that Spans Both Asia and Europe
Surrounded by the Marmara Sea in the South and the Black Sea in the North, Istanbul is the only city in the world that spans both the continents of Asia and Europe. Its western part lies in Europe while the Eastern side spans Asia. As Istanbul is divided by the Bosporus Strait, it is the nearest Asian city to Europe, as a seaport, and the nearest European city to Asia. Courtesy of its strategic geographic location, Istanbul offers an eclectic combination of traditions, cultures, colours, and flavours of both East and West to visitors. Catching a flight to Istanbul means getting to have an experience of both Europe and Asia.
Owing to its cultural wealth, social status, historical beauty, and facilities galore, Istanbul takes pride in being the most populous city in Turkey. Apart from its scenic beauty, intriguing history, and tranquil spots, the city boasts thriving food and drink scenes. No wonder the city greets travellers from around the world throughout the year.
Why Travellers must visit Istanbul?
Istanbul is a head-turner for sure when it comes to tourist honeypots. The social life in the city is pretty colourful and every corner is teeming with things to indulge in. People belonging to discrete cultures call Istanbul their home. Not for nothing is Istanbul acknowledged as the heart of Turkey for artistic activities. The districts of Tophane, Galata, Cihangir, Beyoğlu, and Tünel are known for their remarkable contribution to the art facet of Turkey and this is why attract myriads of tourists, especially those who are art aficionados. Contemporary art exhibitions, performances by local artists, and photo and art galleries are the key highlights for visitors looking to experience Istanbul artistically. While you’re at it, make sure that you head to the first-ever modern art museum established in the Beyoğlu district on the Western side.
Istanbul is equally famous for its vibrant entertainment venues and happening nightlife, if not more. Home to scores of bars and cafes, the Kadıköy district of the city is the place to make the most of bar-hopping. Furthermore, you can also make your way to the Beyoğlu district to savour the lip-smacking food while enjoying live music. The city is quite popular among locals and travellers alike for its street food as well as drinking culture at elite spots.
Turkish cuisine to date is keeping up with Ottoman cuisine. Influenced by ‘Palace cuisine’ during the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul is still dotted with restaurants that serve a wide array of dishes having traces of Ottoman cuisine. Foodie or no foodie, treating your taste buds to Turkish tastes is a must-do in Istanbul. Begin with gulping down the famed “boza” in the Vefa district while beholding the beautiful vistas. Yogurt is another speciality food of Istanbul to try in Kanlica. Go on to nosh “kumpir” in Ortakoy, coffee in Pierre Loti, “Uykuluk” in Sütlüce, and delicious chocolates in Beyoğlu.
To sum it up, Istanbul is a vibrant and culturally rich Turkish city that boasts umpteen historical and modern attractions. You can rest assured that as a globetrotter, you are in for a treat in Istanbul. Whether you're interested in exploring ancient ruins, shopping for souvenirs, or taking in stunning vistas, Istanbul is going to exceed your expectations and woo you to the best of its ability.
Best places to visit in Istanbul
Hagia Sophia is a magnificent architectural masterpiece and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Istanbul. Although Hagia Sophia was built originally as a church in the 6th century, it was later transformed into a mosque and then again into a museum. You can marvel at the stunning domed ceiling and intricate mosaics and frescoes that adorn the walls.
Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque is another iconic landmark in the city. Built in the early 17th century, the mosque features six towering minarets and a stunning interior decorated with blue tiles. You can take a guided tour or either explore the mosque on your own.
The Topkapi Palace is a sprawling complex of buildings that served as the primary residence of Ottoman sultans for centuries. You can explore the palace's numerous courtyards, rooms, and museums, including the Harem, where the sultan's wives and concubines lived.
The Grand Bazaar is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in shopping and experiencing Istanbul's vibrant culture. It is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world and offers a wide array of goods, including spices, textiles, jewellery, and ceramics. Be ready to go on a shopping spree!
The Bosporus Strait is a beautiful body of water that separates Europe and Asia and is a favourite destination for boat tours. You can appreciate stunning views of Istanbul's skyline and historic landmarks, such as the Maiden's Tower and Dolmabahce Palace, from the water.
Istanbul’s Leading International Airports
There are two airports in Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul Airport is the leading international airport that is situated on the European side while Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport is another one that is located on the Asian side of the city. Istanbul Airport serves as a hub for Turkish Airlines and the latter is a hub for AnadoluJet and Pegasus Airlines.