Istanbul is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. It is a living history and bridge between East & West that spans on two continents, Europe & Asia. It has more top attractions and historical layers than many other famous cities in the world of the same magnitude.
Istanbul had many different names and been home to various cultures since around 6700 BC.
One of the first known is a fishing village of Semistra that appeared on the European shore of Bosphorus in the same period that kings David and Solomon ruled in Jerusalem, and existed along with the neighbouring Lygos founded by Thracian tribes between the 13th and 11th centuries BC. It was followed by Byzantium, Augusta Antonina, Dersaadet, Asitane, Constantinople, and, at last, Istanbul; the name was officially changed in 1930.
It was one of the most frequently besieged cities in the world. Before being conquered by the Turkish Ottomans in 1453, its assailants included the Persian King Darius (513 BC) the Athenian Alcibiades (408 BC) the Spartans after the end of the Peloponnesian War (404 BC), Macedonian Philip II (340 BC), the Arabs, the Bulgarians and the armies of the Fourth Crusade.
Coveted by empires across the centuries, straddling both Europe and Asia, Istanbul is one of the world's great metropolises. The city is liberally scattered with glorious remnants of its long and illustrious history, and the sightseeing here will impress even the most monument-weary visitor.
Along with the big four, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and Grand Bazaar, located in or near the Old City district of Sultanahmet, there is a dazzling array of other tourist attractions throughout the district and further reaches of the city, such as Basilica Cisterns (Yerebatan Sarnıçı), Hippodrome, Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Suleymaniye Mosque, Kariye Museum (Chora Church), Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and hundreds of others.
Istanbul is considered to be one of the main air traffic hubs with 2 international airports: Ataturk International Airport on European Side and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport on Asia Side.
Our national carrier Turkish Airlines operates today direct flights to/from 233 international destinations in 109 countries of Africa, Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe in addition to 45 domestic destinations. The airline has been named the Best Airline of Europe for the fourth year running.
Apart of Turkish Airlines, the majority of European, Asian, American and African carriers serve Istanbul daily.
Istanbul is easy to reach from all around the world via non-stop flights. It is from 2 - 4 hours from Europe, from 10 to 13 hours from the East coast of North America or South Africa and Far East countries.
Every day over 5 million people use public transportation in Istanbul - more than the population of any other European capital. The system in Istanbul might be difficult to understand at first because there are so many different modes of transportation (as you’ll see below). But, after you learn some key points you will be able to go anywhere in Istanbul.
The main modes for transportation are the Metro (for the new parts of Istanbul as well as to / from the airport), the Tram (through the Old City), ferries (mainly for trips between Europe and Asia) and the buses (everywhere). In addition, there are some quirky, only-in-Istanbul options, like minibuses and vans, as well as short connectors (most of which provide an option to ride – not walk – up and down the city’s steep hills).
The hub city for many cultures over the centuries Istanbul offers a variety of accommodation choices.
According to the data of the Association of the Touristic Hotels and Investors (TUROB) of the Republic of Turkey, 817 accommodation establishments of different categories in Istanbul (licenced by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Turkey and/or the municipality of Istanbul) had the total of 56,164 rooms and 13.199 beds by the end of September 2015
That capacity alone was sufficient to accommodate the annual volume of 15 million guests.
Istanbul retains its strong attraction for the international hotel chains as the 9th most visited city in the world by the number of international tourist arrivals and the 9th most popular congress destination in the world, hosting, as of September 2015, 106 operating international chain hotels, with further 31 such hotels scheduled to open before late 2017.
One of the greatest pleasures of visiting Istanbul is eating Turkish food. Turkish cuisine ranks among the top five in the world because of the variety of ingredients used in their dishes, the inventiveness of the way they are prepared, the exquisite and unusual mix of flavours, and the artistry of their presentation. The origins of Turkish cuisine date back to the golden age of the Ottoman Empire (1453-1566) when Istanbul was the centre of culinary culture. This brought new kinds of fruits, vegetables and spices into the territories of the Empire and encouraged top chefs to develop new cooking techniques.
Turkey produces some very palatable wines, which Pera-Kaktus Travel would be happy to suggest complimenting the menu. The National drink of Turkey is raki, locally known as Lion’s milk. But definitely much stronger!!!
There is a wide range of possibilities such as Fine Dining Elegant Restaurants, upmarket local restaurant with Bosphorus view, more informal Kebap Dinner but of an upmarket standard, or a local less pretentious Kebab Houses with good food and moderate rates; Bosphorus Sophisticated Fish Restaurants, or the more informal but atmospheric restaurant. The city is lined with streets of restaurants that push gastronomic limits
Feast like an Ottoman Sultan on fabulous traditional cuisine at Asitane or try cutting edge fusion delicacies at Mikla … Experience the 360 Degree global tour of interactive eccentric menu choices in 360 Istanbul or try a special sea food with extraordinary Bosphorus view at Park Fora...
Istanbul offers three independent integral meeting clusters at the Golden Horn, in Airport Area and the Congress Valley featuring the state of art facilities. Combined with Istanbul’s 60.000 guest rooms the city’s three meeting clusters, each capable of hosting events with 20,000 and more delegates, make the city ideal for meeting with 500 to 30.000 and more participants.