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Enchanting and distinctive, Istanbul is a place where east meets west in spectacular fashion. Bridging Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a city unlike anywhere else. Whether you’re set to enjoy a brief stay in the Turkish city or have the luxury of an extended visit, you’re sure to find plenty to see, do and experience across Istanbul.
Ruled by civilisations such as the Greeks, Romans and Persians throughout history, it comes as no surprise that Istanbul is home to countless remnants of its past. Join a guided tour and learn about the intriguing structures scattered throughout the city’s streets or set out on foot and explore at your own pace. Be sure to take time out to discover some of Istanbul’s ornate places of worship, including the famous Blue Mosque, and wander through spaces visited by generation after generation of Istanbulites.
Lovers of architecture will revel in the ancient beauty of the Basilica Cistern, a subterranean structure that was built in the 6th century. Tourist attractions including the Hagia Sophia and the Roman-built Galata tower can also be found nearby.
With inspiration coming from the east and west, Istanbul boasts a cuisine and culture of its very own. Sink your teeth into dishes filled with fresh produce and local flavours, or opt for dishes originating from across Europe and beyond. Explore the vibrant, historic Grand Bazaar and wander through the 4,000 market stalls selling everything from interesting trinkets to delicious local fare. Leave the chaos of the colourful, labyrinthine markets and spend the evening unwinding like a local in one of the beautiful tea gardens, coffeehouses and taverns scattered throughout the city.
Istanbul is built on seven hills, so steep elevations, steps and cobbles can make it difficult for some visitors to get around on foot. Metro train services are a quick and reliable way of getting around the European side of Istanbul, while the tram is good for getting around the main sightseeing and tourist areas. Buses and Metro Buses also run throughout the city and travel to a number of suburbs across the city. Visitors can also take a taxi or a minibus for a relatively cheap price. It is best to agree on a price and make sure the meter is running while you are in the cab to avoid any discrepancies.
Istanbul has a temperate, oceanic climate comprised of pleasant summers and cold, wet winters. Although the temperatures are moderate during the summer months, bustling crowds and high humidity can be hard to deal with. Visit in autumn, from September to November, to beat the crowds, enjoy the mild crest of summer and get the best out of Istanbul. Culture and film lovers will enjoy the Istanbul Biennial which is also held during these months.
Istanbul Ataturk Airport
Located around 20 kilometres west of the city centre, Istanbul Ataturk Airport is the main international airport serving Turkey. The airport has been in operation since 1924 and was previously known as Yesilkoy Airport. Flights travel to Istanbul Ataturk Airport from a number of destinations, including London, Singapore, Amsterdam and Moscow. There are no direct flights available from Australia.