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Istanbul: dazzling city on the border of East and West

Even though Istanbul has evolved through the centuries, the megalopolis of a thousand scents and flavours remains a captivating young city that reinvents itself every day.

The diverse city that is Istanbul has kept an exceptional cultural and architectural richness from its tumultuous past. Roman ruins, Byzantine mosaics, Ottoman palaces, and imperial mosques rub shoulders with kebab restaurants and bazaars in a complex hybrid of tradition and modernity. Ceaselessly on the move, Istanbul owes much of its indefatigable energy to its legendary river, the Bosphorus, which since time immemorial has been the city's unwavering anchor and reference point.
Sultanahmet is the historical heart and showcase of the city, but many neighbourhoods are equally dynamic and changing. Every year, new prestigious hotels open their doors, cool bars and restaurants spring up like mushrooms after the rain, and art galleries pop up out of nowhere. Each of these neighbourhoods has its peculiarities and originality. If you have time, wander off the beaten path and get wondrously lost in this maze of colourful places.
In the district of Beyoğlu, breathe in the tumultuous atmosphere of Taksim Square and immerse yourself in the crowds of pedestrians on avenue İstiklâl Caddesi. The streets of the Cihangir neighbourhood, overlooking the Bosphorus, are calmer and more bobo-chic. At Çukurcuma, barter for antiques on Faik Paşa Yokuşu Street. Then head towards Galata with its alleys, designer shops, and bohemian cafés. Further on, on the banks of the Bosphorus, is Karaköy, an emerging hipster neighbourhood enriched every day with new art galleries, boutiques, bars, and trendy restaurants. More bourgeois are the posh streets of Nişantaşi, Istanbul's chic neighbourhood with luxury shops and a glittering shopping centre. The yalis, luxury wooden homes built by the Ottoman pashas and elites in the 19th century, line the river. Take a detour by the picturesque Golden Horn and its brightly coloured working-class streets. And then of course there is the Asian side, which will delight you with the same intensity. The Haydarpaşa station, Kadikoy Market, Bagdat Street... so many places none to be missed! Reveal the soul of this fascinating labyrinthine city.

Insight video - Discover Istanbul and surroundings
Insight video

Discover Istanbul and surroundings

Discovery map - Our selection of must-see places in and around Istanbul
Discovery map

Our selection of must-see places in and around Istanbul

Diaporama

Our Istanbul photo album

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arts and culture literature

A day with the novelists in timeless Istanbul

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food and drink - outings

Efendi, a dandy bar with original cocktails

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food and drink - outings

Alexandra, a cocktail with a view of the Bosphorus

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not-to-be-missed

Alancha, the Anatolian restaurant

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monument - museum

The Beylerbeyi Palace, on the banks of the Bosphorus

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traditional

Karaköy Lokantasi, a chic restaurant with divine meze

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Favourite
hot tip

Cloud 7, a trendy address

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traditional - hot tip

Zübeyir, the best kebabs in Istanbul

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gastronomic

Yeni Lokanta, Turkish cuisine favourite!

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boutique hotel

Witt Istanbul, a trendy boutique hotel

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