If you want to fall into a melting pot of history, culture and modern life, then Istanbul is your perfect vacation destination. Ottoman architecture, Byzantine frescoes and awe-inspiring skyscrapers all merge to form an eclectic and unique location that has been a key trading post for aeons. Sitting on the edge of both Europe and Asia, Istanbul was at the final stage of the legendary Silk Route. When the merchants arrived in Istanbul they fell in love with the city and stayed. Combine this with influence from the Greeks, Persians, Romans, Venetians and finally the Ottomans, and you have a culturally diverse history.
The Hagia Sophia Museum and church, Casilica Cistern and the Blue Mosque are just some of the incredible sites Istanbul has to offer. Bustling bazaars are full of spices, souvenirs, fabric and leather goods, and business is always done over innumerable cups of tea. Qatar Airways Holidays are always on hand to help you experience this wonderfully diverse city.
Istanbul Holiday Packages
Qatar Airways Holidays can help you select luxury hotels, spectacular holiday packages and organize tours, activities and culinary experiences. Istanbul is a city of intrigue and mystery, so let Qatar Airways Holidays help you create a holiday of a lifetime.
Good to know
GMT +3 hours
Istanbul Holidays Experiences
- Basilica Cistern: The subterranean structure of the Basilica Cistern is the largest surviving Byzantine cistern in Istanbul. It is constructed using 336 columns, and its grandeur and cavernous depths make the perfect retreat from the sultry summer days.
- Beyoglu: As the rusty sun sets and the sound of the muezzins starts flowing from the minarets, make your way to Beyoglu to enjoy tea on the rooftop of Mikla or Leb-i Derya. For dinner, the streets around Sofyali and Nevizade Sokaks are where you can enjoy authentic Turkish mezes and kebabs.
- Travel along the Bosphorus on a river cruise: To understand the geography of this ancient town, take a trip on the Turyol ferry and take the 90-minute Bosphorus cruise. You will pass white marble palaces, quirky wooden mansions and stone fortresses that played important roles in the downfall of the Byzantine Empire.
- Aya Sofya: Of all the important buildings and monuments in Istanbul, the Aya Sofya holds importance across religions, history and architecture. Its astonishing beauty is still as captivating today, and is at the top of every must-see list of locations.
- The çay bahçesi or tea garden: Relax in Istanbul like a local, by enjoying tea in one of the many çay bahçesi, tea gardens. These large open spaces offer tranquillity and reasonably priced tea. They are less about the tea, service and furniture as these rarely differ. It is the location that distinguishes them and the best have amazing views and atmosphere.
- Shopping for a carpet, tea, antiques and jewellery is still entrenched with the elaborate Ottoman etiquette and rituals. When bargaining with vendors accept the tea, and exchange polite greetings whilst they size up how easy you are to bargain with!