Istanbul is Turkey's largest city and it is located on both sides of the Bosphorus strait. The city is the confluence of Europe and Asia, culturally as well as physically. The city's long history is extending back to Roman times, nowadays Istanbul is full of religiously and historically important sites, from mosques and chapels from the era of the Roman Empire to modern tower buildings. Istanbul is also famous for its sea food, its large open squares, and the new shopping centers.
Monthly Weather Conditions
Istanbul's weather changes during the whole year, though there are still great places to visit at any time. The most rainy days are from December to March.
The best time to visit is from September to November. That's when the crowds reduce, the rates drop, and the weather is spectacular. Peak season is in summer, which sees a spike in temperatures and room rates.
More information: Istanbul forecast and weather conditions monthly
Istanbul 10 most important sights:
- Aya Sofya: The Aya Sofya (formerly the Hagia Sophia) was the emperor's swaggering statement to the world about the wealth and technical ability of his empire.
- Topkap? Palace (Topkap? Saray?): Built by Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century, this glorious palace beside the Bosporus is where sultans of the Ottoman Empire ruled over their dominions up until the 19th century.
- Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii): Sultan Ahmet I's grand architectural gift to his capital was this beautiful mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque today.
- Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarn?ç?): The Basilica Cistern is a huge, palace-like underground hall that once stored the imperial water supply for the Byzantine emperors.
- Hippodrome: This was the center of Byzantine public life and the scene of splendid games and chariot races, but also factional conflicts.
- Grand Bazaar (Kapal? Çar??): This massive covered market, basically the world's first shopping mall, takes up a whole city quarter between the Nure Osman?ye Mosque and Beyaz?t Mosque.
- Süleymaniye Mosque: One of the most-recognized landmarks in Istanbul.
- Spice Bazaar (M?s?r Çar??s?): The Spice Bazaar is the place to go for your foodie fix of lokum (Turkish delight), dried fruit, nuts, herbs and, of course, spice.
- Dolmabahçe Palace: The sumptuous and ornate Dolmabahçe Palace shows the clear influence of European decoration and architecture on the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.
- Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Türk ve Islam Eserleri Müzesi): This museum is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in Ottoman art.
Recommendation for one day:
- The morning is a great time to see the historic areas of Istanbul, getting to be by the water, and seeing so many different areas and so many beautiful designs. You'll also find great food, history, culture and breathtaking views from many of the rooftop restaurants in the area.
- Nearby you can find Sultanahmet District, the old part of Istanbul where you can find many attractions including Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.
- Visit Suleymaniye Mosque. Famed architect Mimar Sinan built this majestic structure for one of the greatest rulers of the Ottoman Empire. Although this mosque is less ornate, there are many similarities between it and the Hagia Sophia as the same architect was responsible for both.
- After that, go to Rustem Pasha Mosque, one of the small mosques in the city, built by Rustem Pasa in 1561, it's known for the very fine tiles covering the interior and exterior walls.
- Spend your evening at Balkon Cafe Bar, the place and the view are awesome, and the terrace is higly recommended!.
The recommended accommodation areas for Istanbul are:
Cheap area: Kutlugun Sk
Central location: Beyoglu
Beach area: Burc Beach, Dalia Beach
Nightlife: Akarsu Sk
Compared to prices worldwide, Istanbul is quite a cheap destination.
On a tight budget, the daily budget is approximately $42.12, which includes hostel accommodation, budget meals and public transportation.
On a moderate budget, the daily budget is approximately $120.01, which includes a moderately priced hotel, meals at moderate priced restaurants and transportation costs.
- Hotel (2 stars): $50.81
- Hotel (3 stars): $59.70
- Hotel (4 stars): $85.48
- Hotel (5 stars): $127.90
- Taxi ride (3 miles): $5.75
- Taxi ride (6 miles): $10.86
- Beer in a restaurant (16 ounces): $2.05
- Meal, McDonalds: $3.21
- Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $3.21
Istanbul has been classified as quite dangerous with security classification 2/5.
Safety index values (higher is better):
- General: 52.4 (better than United states average 47.9)
- Walking alone during daytime hours: 70.8 (a little better than United states average 69.5)
- Walking alone at night: 40.8 (a little weaker than United states average 41.6)
More information: Istanbul safety
Things which affect the renting of the car:
- Driver’s license: In the European Union / Schengen a driver's license from an EU country is sufficient, although for North Americans it is recommended to carry a separate international driving license, in addition to the American driving license.
- Direction of traffic: In Europe the traffic is mainly right-handed. The exception is Great Britain, which is left-handed traffic.
- Insurance: In Western Europe, all rental cars include some kind of insurance, so additional insurance policies are often unnecessary (unless you are going to Russia or Eastern Europe).
- Driving abroad: You can drive a rental car almost everywhere within all countries of the European Union / Schengen territory without additional fees. Eastern European countries and Russia are the exceptions and you should always ask the car rental company in advance about the rules.