Cheap Flights to Istanbul, Turkey
Why visit Istanbul?
Istanbul, once known as Constantinople, has a long and glorious history. The cultural bridge connecting Europe and Asia, Istanbul has absorbed the influence of both the east and the west and has emerged as one of the world’s most impressive cities. Wander through empires, eras, and ages when you stroll through the atmospheric streets of this fascinating metropolis.
Things to do in Istanbul
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Istanbul, is the Hagia Sophia, and that is with good reason; this is a stunning, fantastical piece of architecture that has defined the skyline of Istanbul for over a thousand years. Once a church, the Hagia Sophia is now a museum, where visitors can see the Ottoman Tombs, the Weeping Column, and the Virgin Mary Mosaic.
Then there is the stunning Topkapı Palace, the Ottoman palace built for Mehmet the Conqueror. This home to the kings has a magnificently adorned interior, and a salacious history, which you will learn about by wandering through the Palace Kitchens, the Harem, the Treasury and the Imperial Council Chambers. Nearby, you can see another of Istanbul’s architectural wonders, the iconic Blue Mosque, which sits overlooking the Sea of Marmara.
But you will discover that there is so much in this city in the way of cultural and historical landmarks, and all should be added to your itinerary. Such as seeing the ancient Byzantine Hippodrome, admiring the engineering genius of the Basilica Cistern, and walking through the treasures displayed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.
But once you’re done delving into the history of Istanbul, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive into the city’s lifeblood. Head to the labyrinthine and technicolour Grand Bazaar; taking up a huge portion of the city, this celebrated marketplace allows its guests to browse through over 4000 shops and stalls, pick up delights that range from jewellery, clothes, textiles and ceramics. A perfect place to get lost in.
Best time to visit Istanbul
· The autumn and spring seasons are the best time to visit this city, when the weather is mild and still warm, with averages between 15-25°C.
· Summers can be very hot in the city, hovering around the late 20s and early 30s, but with known spikes of up to 45°C.
· Winter is fairly mild, sticking around 10°C, but this can sink as low as 3°C. So make sure you pack a few jumpers to keep you warm.
Best time to book
· For long-haul flights out to Turkey, it’s usually advisable to look for flights around seven months before your chosen holiday date.
Expect to pay
· Turkish Lira (TRY).
· Buying a regular cappuccino in Istanbul should cost no more than about 7TRY ($3.30).
Arriving in Istanbul by plane
· Istanbul has two major airports, Ataturk Airport (IST) located on the European side of the city, and Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) situated on the Asian side. Airlines that fly to Istanbul are Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, British Airways, ANA, Air Canada, Delta, EVA Air, Air China, Garuda Indonesia, and Asiana Airlines.
· Both cities are within a decent radius of Istanbul and can be easily reached by public transport, taxi, or car. In both airports you will find access to the internet, shops to browse in, restaurants to dine in, and provided ATM and banking facilities.
· There are non-stop flights to Istanbul, and all routes will involve a stopover in travel hubs like Doha (DOH), Dubai (DXB), Singapore (SIN) or Kuala Lumpur (KUL).
Transportation to city centre
· From IST a taxi into downtown will cost about 40TRY ($19), and from SAW into central you can expect a fare of about 85-100TRY ($39-47). Airport transfers are also available if you’d prefer to book your transport in advance.
· Public transport into the city can be done via bus, rail, or ferry.
· Hiring a car is also an option, which you can do within the airport when you arrive, or before you fly by booking online.
Where to stay in Istanbul
· Akbiyik is where you can find a plethora of accommodation from hostels to high-end hotels. This neighbourhood is perhaps the most popular with visitors to Istanbul as it is close to both the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, and comes complete with restaurants, bars and great views.
· In Sirkeci, you will find another cluster of hotels, all of which are within close proximity of the Topkapi palace, and many other famed city sites.
· Taksim, separated from Sultanahmet by bridge, is the place to be if you want to take advantage of the city’s nightlife. Here you can also find hotels that range from economical options to five-star luxury ones.
Useful tips before you go
· Istanbul is a very modern city, but please be aware that in some of the older parts of town, especially in any mosques, it is better to be modestly dressed.
Please note that the information provided above is accurate as of May 2016
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