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Formerly Byzantium and Constantinople, Istanbul echoes antiquity, in its ancient mosques, palaces, spectacular monuments and traditional bazaars. But you will also discover a modern European city with world-class dining and entertainment.
Book a flight to Istanbul with Qatar Airways for an exotic encounter with a true Turkish delight.
Many of Istanbul’s most famous sights and attractions lie within Sultanahmet – the Old City. When the city was called Constantinople it was the heart of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire – the crossroads between East and West. In the old city you will find the Hippodrome, built by Septimius Severius, and a legendary venue for chariot-racing.
Nearby is Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, the former seat of Ottoman power. No trip to the city would be complete without admiring the architectural scale of the Haghia Sophia, Istanbul’s famous domed church.
The Galata Bridge links the old Istanbul with the new, 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 will find the city’s skyscrapers, as well as more modern attractions such as 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, after which you are given a full-body rinse in cool water. This is followed by body-washing and a soothing massage, before retiring to a “cooling room”. Istanbul has dozens of hamams, many of which have been in operation for centuries.
The city is stocked with a variety of tea and coffee lounges where you can enjoy the famed traditional Turkish hot drinks. To accompany your beverage, try a hookah pipe (or nargile as it is known in Turkey), a popular leisure activity for tourists and locals alike.
Istanbul is located on the edge of the Bosphorus, and there are several boat trips that give you an alternative perspective on the city.
Turkish cuisine will be familiar to anyone who has ever eaten a kebab, but there is far more on offer in Istanbul than the globe-trotting doner. Kebabs come in dozens of variations, from the spicy adana to the aubergine-rich alinazik.
In the Galata area of the city you will find everything from kebab snack stalls to exclusive rooftop-terrace dining.
In a city where East meets West and old meets new, you will find almost every imaginable shopping experience. In New Istanbul is a scattering of modern shopping centres where just about anything 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 higher than in some of the smaller markets, so it pays to shop around. Remember that haggling is common here, so be prepared to spend a while debating prices with 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.
Essential facts about Istanbul
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip