What is Istanbul in Turkey like?

Istanbul is one of the most amazing cities in the world, it is a fascinating city built on two Continents, divided by the Bosphorus Strait. Istanbul was also announced by the European Union as the 2010 European Capital of Culture.

Throughout this vibrant city, you’ll find centuries-old mosques, churches and markets happily co-existing side by side with modern restaurants, galleries and nightclubs. This city is growing dynamically and developing at full speed on an east-west axis along the shores of the Marmara.

The history of Istanbul

From the foundation of Byzantium in the 7th Century BC until today, Istanbul held always an important role in the history of humanity in this part of the world. Everybody wanted to gain control of this area because of its strategic location; Empires were born here on the ashes of previous ones.

Since the Republic in 1923, Istanbul continued to grow and today it boosted its population 15.82 million people living in this spread out city. This makes Istanbul the largest city of Turkey and one of the biggest cities in the world. It’s a great place to buy a Property in Turkey.

Sightseeing in Istanbul

The important sites that are a most to visit and experience are; The Hagia Sophia, The Galata Tower from which one can will see the best view of the city, the Dolmabahce Palace on the Bosphorus, the richest palace in the world, the famous Archeological Museums, the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum and of course not forgetting the Spice Bazaar, and so much more. For those who have never stepped on to Asian soil before, a boat trip or the bridges over the Bosphorus offer a wonderful opportunity.

Over the suspension bridges and from Great Camhca Hill on the Asian side, one can get a bird’s eye view of the city and the Bosphorus. The Princes’ Islands, one hour by ferryboat and the eight wonders of the world, the Suleymaniye Mosque, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, the Hippodrome and the Topkapi Palace Museum.

The culture of Istanbul

The performances of belly dancers and folk dancers add colour to night tours. A minimum of four days are necessary to really get to know this spectacular world of Istanbul. Istanbul is an amazing city and has a huge mix of cultures and diversities that are spread across its 39 different districts, 25 of which sit on the European side and the other 14 which sit on the Asian side.

Areas of Istanbul

BAHCELIEVELER - is situated in the centre of the European side of Istanbul and offers a friendly, diverse and cosmopolitan district. There are many amenities here which include lovely shopping malls, parks, great restaurants, schools, universities, hospitals, banks, local businesses and public transport. Within a short distance you will find the centre of Istanbul with its Blue Mosque and Taksim Square. Bahcelieveler offers excellent transport links as the TEM highway is 6.3km away and the E5 highway is 1.2km. There is also a train station 100 metres, plus a metro bus station 1.2km away.

BAHCESEHIR - is a wonderful district with lush green surroundings located 30km west of central Istanbul. The district enjoys a large landscaped park, a man-made lake, great shops, bars and restaurants and all other amenities and facilities. Bahcesehir offers great transport links into Istanbul and to the new Istanbul Airport.

BEYLIKDUZU - use to be a farming village by the Marmara Sea located west of central Istanbul, but today it is an inviting and rapidly developing face of Istanbul. It is known as a shopping destination with its large shopping malls and supermarkets. The district is also a favourite of the commuters as it connects directly to central Istanbul via the metro bus service in just 60 minutes.

CEKMEKOY - is a very family friendly district on the Asian side of Istanbul and offers an excellent mix of traditional and rustic charm. Cekmekoy offers plenty of outside space and is home to many parks, residential properties and a wide range of amenities. Many local amenities such as shops, cafes and restaurants can be reached within just a few minutes. The district also offers great transport links as you can easily access the centre of Istanbul and the European side via TEM highway.

ESENYURT - is a popular and vibrant district on the European side of Istanbul. It offers great shopping malls, local markets, great eateries and bars and all other amenities such as banks, schools and hospitals, plus it offers great transport links as the TEM highway is close by and it is just a short stroll to the Beylikduzu metro bus station.

KUCUKCEKMECE - is a district on the European side of Istanbul, near to Gunesli. The Basin Express is close by as well as a tranquil park which cannot be built on making it very unique. The district offers great shopping malls, business districts, residential areas and a great selection of places to eat and drink. Kucukcekmece also offers great access into the centre of Istanbul.

SANCAKTEPE - is a very popular district on the Asian side of Istanbul and is home to many local businesses as well as a variety of great restaurants, cafes, shops, beautiful gardens, parks and other amenities such as hospitals, schools and a university.

SISLI - is situated on the European side of Istanbul next to the Bosphrous Bridge and is home to many large businesses. This district offers great access to main roads such as E5 highway and the TEM highway, plus there is easy access to the metro line and metro bus. Sisli offers a variety of great shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, bars, gardens and other local amenities such as schools, hospitals and a University, making it a great place to live.

Click on the links below for more information on the European and Asian sides of Istanbul



In October 2018 we saw the launch of Istanbul's brand new airport, one of the largest airports in the world. Click on the link below to find out more.


Istanbul also hosts several annual motorsports events, such as the formula One Turkish Grand Prix, the MotoGP Grand Prix of Turkey, the FIA World Touring Car Championship, The GP2 and the Le Mans Series 1,000km races at the Istanbul Park GP Racing Circuit.

It's a great place to buy a Property in Turkey!!

What's on in Istanbul throughout 2022?  

Istanbul Dance Festival (10th anniversary) - March 23rd till March 30th - Come along to this fantastic festival and enjoy amazing dance performances such as the Salsa, Bachata and the Kizomba.

Istanbul International Film Festival - April 8th till April 19th - The festival comes to Istanbul once a year and shows dozens of films from countries all around the world. The festival will be filled with people from the film industry as well as the general public. There will be face to face meetings happening between the creators, actors and the guests.

Istanbul Tulip Festival - last 3 weeks of April - This festival takes place every year to celebrate the Spring season and to honour the Tulip as it holds an important place in Turkish culture and for the Ottoman Empire. The festival is held within Istanbul's most famous parks.  

Istanbul International Music Festival - June 6th till June 24th - The music festival lasts about three weeks long. You will be able to enjoy performances from both local and international artist, there will also be some classical music performances too.

Art and Kids Fest - May 21st till May 22nd - Children from ages 0 to 3 and 4 to 13 will be able to come together to enjoy a day of creativity. Workshops will take place in Clock Tower Square. The children will be assisted by artists to develop their skills and enjoy taking part in a range of artistic activities.  

Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim Race - date to be confirmed - The race begins at the Kanlica coast on the Asian side of Istanbul and will end at thhe Kurucesme coast on the European side. There will be thousands of both local and foreign swimmers taking part in this annual competition.  

Istanbul International Jazz Festival - June 25th till July 7th - The festival will see over 200 musicians from all over Turkey perform in this wonderful event in Istanbul. There will be performanes from a number of award winning artists.  

21st Istanbul Summer Culture Festival - August 27th till August 31st

Istanbul Coffee Festival - September 15th - This event will be held in the city centre in the outdoor Kucukciftlik Park. People come together to taste different blends of coffee beans from all around the world. You can enjoy trying all the different flavours. Besides drinking all the coffee you could possibly want, the festival will also be offering barista shows, acoustic style concerts, seminars, art exhibitions and there will be custom designed products on display.

Contemporary Istanbul Exhibition  - September 19th till September 23rd - This is the events 17th year. This years exhibition is being held at Tersane Istanbul. There will be more than 85 galleries and 650 artists from all over Turkey and other parts of the world taking part in the exhibition.  

Istanbul International Puppet Festival - date to be confirmed - This fun festival is held over 11 days and is perfect for those art and puppet lovers. The festival will be held at different venues in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul as well as at the Naval Museum in Besiktas. There will be puppet shows, puppet making workshops, video and film shows.   



Ferries between Turkey and Greece

Ayvalik to Lesbos - If you are staying nearby the seaside town of Ayvalik why not take a day trip out to the beautiful island of Lesbos. There is a ferry which runs 3 or 4 times every day crossing between the two destinations. The journey takes around 90 minutes.

Istanbul Markets

TUESDAY/FRIDAY: Traditional market in Kadikoy. No less than 4000 stalls and a car park in Fikirtepe. This market is famous for the huge amount of visitors as well as stallholders.

WEDNESDAY: Faith Market, oldest and biggest market place of the city. Around 1290 vendors, and 4800 stalls, you can find anything ranging from fruit and veg, to clothing and household materials.

Yesilkoy Market

Known for its greener and upper classy setting, you can find an array of high quality products in this well-organized market place. There are 2000 stalls, floral displays, scattered tea cafes and toilet facilities. Most stalls will take credit card payments, but prices may be slightly higher compared to other markets.

THURSDAY: Ulus Market located in Ortakoy selling both fake and real products and big brand names including Gap, Adidas, Fred Perry, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton. There are also real fur and leather products, as well as many designer make up products and much more. The market is open between 8am and 7.30pm.

SATURDAY: Besiktas Market is one of the smaller markets with only 400 stalls, but yet still offers most products you will find elsewhere. The markets main focus is on clothing, but shoes, bags, jewellery and home textiles are also available. The market sets up at dawn and stays open until dusk.

Things to do in Istanbul!

Boat trips

Istanbul Bosphorus Tours/Cruise

Hagia Sophia

This incredible building was once a church for almost a thousand years and then became a mosque. The museum boasts stunning architecture, glorious interior views and historical significance. This amazing attraction is located in Sultanahmet and is open Tuesday through to Sunday from 9.30am until 4.30pm.

Blue Mosque

This is one of the biggest tourists attractions Istanbul has to offer. It truly is an amazing sight to behold with its flurry of domes, semi-domes and minarets. With it being an active religious site conservative dressing must be worn. Admission is restricted during prayer service, especially on Fridays.

Istanbul Archaeology Museum

Located in the Eminonu district of Istanbul, near Gulhane Park and Topkapi Palace, is the magnificent historic Istanbul Archaeology Museum. The museum consists of three museums including the Archaeology Museum, the Museum of Ancient Orient and the Museum of Islamic Art. At this fantastic museum you can view over one million objects that represent almost all of the eras and civilizations all throughout history.

Topkapi Palace

This amazing and one of Istanbul’s most popular attraction became a museum in 1924 after serving as a home of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1856. It features incredible architecture, manicured courtyards and impressive exhibits. The museum is located a little over a mile northeast of the Hagia Sophia and is open from 9am until 7pm and is closed on Tuesdays.

Grand Bazzar

One of the biggest and oldest indoor shopping markets in the world and is located a little more than a mile west of Sultanahmet. The market boasts thousands of shops and products ranging from carpets and clothing to art and chessboards. You will find a variety of restaurants and cafes here, as well as mosques.

Galata Tower

This landmark structure crowns the hill opposite the Golden Horn and boasts jaw-dropping views across Istanbul from the Beyoglu side. Aside from the incredible views and history of the Galata Tower, visitors can also enjoy a restaurant and at night, a night club at the top. This fantastic attraction sits near the Sishane Metro Station and is open from 9am until 5pm with special hours for restaurant and bar visitors. There is an admission fee to the balcony.

Suleymaniye Hamam

This historic Turkish bath is located near the Suleymaniye Mosque and caters primarily to tourists. Visitors should know that this is a co-ed bath, which is perfect for couples and families. This particular Turkish bath has a reputation of being very clean and non-sketchy. Approximately 45 USD will get you a lockable changing room, use of clothes/slippers for baths and an hour and a half of scrubbing and massaging. Open daily from 10am until midnight, last entry being accepted at 10pm.

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