Turkey’s second but arguably most famous city, Istanbul is a warren of switchback lanes, steaming hammams and bustling markets where two continents collide. The wide, dark ribbon of the Bosporus cuts through the heart of the city, separating the Asian side of the city from the European side. All along its length you’ll find towering mosques and minarets piercing the sky. One of the most enduring icons of the city are the soaring spires of Hagia Sogia, a Byzantine relic, with its 6th century dome. Over the years the monuments was consecrated as a church, converted to a mosque and later declared a museum, and its rich history is written across its staggering interior mosaics.
Aside from the sights of the historic centre, Istanbul is packed with interesting neighbourhoods ideal for exploring. In edgy Karakoy we recommend seeking out one of the cool rooftop meyhane bars for a glass of raki looking over the city, and in Beyoglu shop for labels on the city’s leafy boulevards, like bustling Istiklal Caddesi. Traditional plates and kilim rugs can be found in the Grand Bazaar’s some 3,000 shops.