Welcome to Istanbul

The mystical allure of Istanbul has been attracting visitors for centuries. It has long been a beguiling mix of ancient Eastern tradition and European style and sophistication, and now time-honoured attractions are being complemented by cocktail lounges, celebrity chefs, opulent nightclubs, designer boutiques and a thriving contemporary art scene.

It's crowded, chaotic and creative, a sensory overload of sights, sounds and smells. It's also a city of contrasts where old meets new and East meets West, not only geographically but culturally. Leaving a nightclub at 5am, you might pass the faithful answering the call to prayer at the neighbouring mosque.

Sultanahmet is the city's historical heart and the showcase of its Ottoman and Byzantine roots. Some of the most iconic sites are here: ancient royal palaces, mosques and churches, displaying the country’s finest decorative arts. In contrast, Beyoğlu is the centre of modern Istanbul, where hot bars and restaurants pop up on every corner.

Put your haggling skills to the test in the Grand Bazaar’s maze of shops, be scrubbed and massaged at a Turkish bath, watch the sun set over the Golden Horn or dance under the stars at a Bosphorus supper-club. Brimming with history, atmosphere and romance, and forever on the move, Istanbul has it all.

Editor's picks


Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in Turkey:
  • Inhabitants in Istanbul:
  • Official language
  • Currency
  • Time zone
    GMT + 2
  • Emergency number
  • Constitution
  • Country phone code
    European side: 212, Asian side: 216
  • Country code
  • Local transportation
    Metro, bus, tram, metrobus
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