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Fly to Istanbul with Qatar Airways and you’ll discover a city whose history echoes with the names that it has previously gone by – Byzantium and Constantinople. Here you’ll find ancient mosques and palaces, spectacular monuments and traditional bazaars. But you’ll also discover a modern European city with world class dining and entertainment. A flight to Istanbul is many visitors first encounter with Turkish culture, but is often not the last.
Many of Istanbul’s most famous sights and attractions lie within Sultanahmet – the Old City. This is the famed Constantinople that once stood at the heart of the Roman and Byzantine empires – the crossroads between East and West. Here you’ll find the Hippodrome that was built by Septimius Severius, a location that was legendary for its chariot racing events.
Nearby stands Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, from which the Ottoman’s once reigned over their extensive empire. No trip to Istanbul would be complete without admiring the architecture and scale of the Haghia Sophia, the city’s most famous domed church.
The Galata Bridge links old and new Istanbul, and is a prominent landmark in itself. The elevator to the top of the Galata Tower provides panoramic views of the city. Within New Istanbul you’ll find many of the city’s skyscrapers, as well as relatively modern attractions like the 19th century Dolmabahce Palace and the Naval Museum.
To give your trip to Istanbul a real Turkish flavour, visit one of the city’s many hamams, or Turkish baths. In the hamam you will start by relaxing in a warm room, and then rinse in cold water. This is followed by body washing and a soothing massage, before continuing the relaxation in the ‘cooling room’. Istanbul has dozens of hamams, many of which have been in operation for centuries.
Istanbul is filled with a variety of tea and coffee lounges where you can enjoy the world famous traditional Turkish tea and coffee, or experience the hookah pipe (or nargile as its known in turkey), a popular leisure activity for tourists and locals alike. There are plenty of lounges across the city where you can sample these cultural delights during your trip to Istanbul.
The city is located on the edge of the Bosphorus, and there is an array of boat trips that can enable you to find a new perspective on Istanbul.
Turkish cuisine will seem somewhat familiar to anyone who has ever eaten a kebab prior to their journey to Istanbul. There’s far more on offer than the globe-trotting Doner kebab though. When it comes to kebabs alone there are dozens of variations, ranging from the spicy Adana to the aubergine-rich Alinazik.
In the Galata area of the city you’ll find everything from kebab snack stalls to exclusive rooftop terrace dining.
As a city where East meets West and old meets new, Istanbul has a wide range of options when it comes to shopping. In New Istanbul you’ll find an array of modern shopping centres where just about everything can be bought. The Old City is the place to go for a taste of authentic Turkish shopping among the many traditional bazaars. The Grand Bazaar is the most famous, but prices here can be more expensive than in some of the smaller markets, so it pays to shop around. Also remember that haggling is common here, so be prepared to spend a while debating prices with the stallholders to get the best deals.
Many visitors return from their travels to Istanbul with a variety of flavours of Turkish Delight and at least one traditional rug.
Istanbul and Turkey in general have quite low crime rates, and in some areas there are special tourist police. As with any other major city though, pickpockets operate, particularly in the bazaars, so it pays to be vigilant.
When visiting mosques you should take your shoes off before entering and be respectful at all times. You will also need to ensure that you dress modestly, and you should also cover your head out of respect. Never point the soles of your feet at anyone during your travels to Istanbul, as feet are considered unclean.
Most flights to Istanbul arrive at Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Flights to Istanbul with Qatar Airways also land at Sabiha Airport, giving visitors a choice of destination.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Istanbul please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY)
Voltage: 230 V 50 Hz
Plugs: Type C / F
International dialing code: +90