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Istanbul is becoming a very popular city break for many.  A direct flight from the UK will have you in this quintessentially Eastern city within four hours.

Turkey’s capital is the only city in the world that straddles two continents – Europe and Asia, therefore an exotic blend of both Eastern and Western cultures can been experienced during just a short stay.

Formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, Istanbul boasts numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites in addition to some wonderful ancient architecture, making a visit here truly fascinating.

The Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace

Built in the 17th century, the Sultanahmet Mosque (better known as the ‘Blue Mosque’) is located in the Sultanahmet area.  Famed for its blue Iznik tiles and marvellous stained glass windows, this is a “must see” for any first time visitor.   Nearby, The Topkapi Palace, famous for its harem and residence of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years, is also extremely worthy of your time.

The half-hourly commuter ferry services up the Bosphorus from Eminönü is a perfect way to see Istanbul from a different perspective. Have your camera at the ready, as a stunning view of the historic peninsula is a great photographic opportunity not to be missed.

Take a ferry ride on the Bosphorus

Take a ferry ride on the Bosphorus

To experience a little of the modern side of Istanbul head for the excellent restaurants, bars and cafés in cosmopolitan Taksim Square.

A stay in this captivating city would not be complete without a little shopping.  You could spend a day in the myriad of streets and alleyways of the unique Grand Bazaar.  With 4000 shops to choose from, it will be very difficult to come away with just one or two purchases.  The aromatic scent of spices and perfumes will allure you in to the vibrant Spice, or Egyptian, Bazaar where a custom-made perfume can be commissioned – a great gift idea.

The Grand Bazaar with over 4000 shops to choose from

The Grand Bazaar

If you think that energy levels may run a little low after a few days in Istanbul, then consider booking a two centre holiday.  Flights operate to Bodrum, Dalaman or Antalya where you could relax and enjoy the beaches or possibly spend a few nights on a traditional gulet cruise.

Istanbul is now a regular embarkation or disembarkation point for cruise line passengers.  Should you be considering a cruise to or from this magnificent city, stay a while.  A pre or post cruise stay would be a fabulous addition to any itinerary.

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