Istanbul Holidays

Istanbul Holidays,

Turkey

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.

Istanbul Holidays FAQ (Frequently asked questions)

Best time to travel to Istanbul for a holiday?

Istanbul has a complex climate pattern that can be changeable and humid, and somewhat unpredictable. Because of its unique position sandwiched between two large bodies of water (the Mediterranean and the Bosphorus), it does tend to have micro-climates, depending on where in the city you are. To the north, you’ll find it to be more humid and often wetter than the southern half, which is warmer and drier.

Average rainfall during the summer months can range from between 20-65mm a month, with the north getting considerably more rain than the south. For high temperatures and minimal chance of rain during the summer, head to the south coasts, where temperatures from June through to September sit in the mid-20s°C, occasionally heading up into the 30s. On occasion, the temperature during the summer can soar, and records in the low 40s have been recorded.

During the winter the temperature can drop dramatically, with the average daily temperature often dipping into single figures. It’s not until late April and early May that the temperature starts to climb. As this is also still outside peak holiday season, this is also when the crowds are smaller, making May a great time to visit Istanbul. By June, the sea temperatures are starting to climb too, at around 21°C.

During the autumn months, the temperature starts to drop into the mid-teens, but rainfall also starts to increase, particularly in the north.

Our top tip: May and early June are the best times to visit Istanbul, as the weather is warmer and drier, and the crowds are smaller. You will still encounter relatively high humidity in the north.

 

Latest travel advice for holidays in Istanbul

Istanbul is generally a safe and welcoming city with a multi-cultural population that’s famously friendly towards visitors from around the world. Hotels are extremely accommodating, and you’ll find the taxi drivers go out of their way to tell you all about their beloved city.

In the larger tourist locations you will need to watch out for pick-pockets (as is the case in any major city) and if you’re looking for reasonably-priced souvenirs then avoid the street vendors close to the major tourist hotspots.

Turkey is predominantly a Muslim country, so if you do visit mosques and holy sites then dress conservatively. Be careful of taking photographs near any government buildings or military installations.

Istanbul: amazing facts and reasons to visit

Two Continents – Istanbul sits at the gateway of Asia and Europe, making it an eclectic and unique destination that’s a cultural melting pot. Because it has always been a hugely important trading centre, Istanbul’s markets and souqs are famous the world over for being stuffed full of almost anything you can imagine. From Persian rugs to rare incense from India and dazzling jewellery from the Middle East, Istanbul’s markets are filled with treasures to discover. Don’t miss a chance to tour The Grand Bazaar, the biggest covered bazaar in the world, and filled with more than 3,000 stalls and traders.

History that stretches back millennia – Istanbul is one of the world’s oldest cities, and certainly one of the oldest that’s still thriving. That means you have historical buildings dating back to Roman times, fabulous examples of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, and sites of international importance such as Hagia Sofia, the Roman Basilica Cistern, and the Blue Mosque.

Tulips from… Istanbul? – You may associate tulips with Amsterdam, but this popular garden flower actually originated in Turkey. The Turks are embracing this symbol of their past once again, and you’ll find Istanbul’s parks and gardens full of them in March through to early May. The best time to see them is in mid-April, when they’re at their very best. Head to Sultanahmet Park and Gülhane Park in Sultanahmet for the best displays, or visit the Tulip festival at Emirgan Park in April.

Where are the best places to visit in Istanbul?

Istanbul is so full of interest that one visit is never enough. For shopping and buying authentic Turkish souvenirs, head to the huge Grand Bazaar, but be prepared to haggle for your bargains. The Old City is where you’ll find the majority of the big tourist attractions, and if you want to get the most out of your visit then an Istanbul Welcome Card is a good way to see much more of the city without standing in any queues. As well as guided tours of the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace and Harem, you’ll also get great discounts in restaurants and at other attractions.

Turkish steam baths have been reviving aching muscles for thousands of years, and you can’t leave Istanbul without having experienced an authentic hammam. Head over to the Sultanahmet district for a proper Turkish hammam.

Religion forms the backbone of Istanbul, and nowhere is that more obvious than at the Blue Mosque. A trip to the courtyard at dusk is magical, but bear in mind that only Muslims are allowed into the centre of the mosque. To see some of the city’s earliest history, take a walking tour of the Theodosian Walls, which date back to the 5th century.

What are the best tour packages to Istanbul?

Even if you’ve visited Istanbul before, there’s always something new and exciting to see. And if this is your first time, be prepared to be wowed by the sheer energy and vibrancy of this ancient city, as well as its stunning attractions, parks, and historical buildings. Get a birds-eye view of the city from the Raffles Istanbul hotel, the ultimate in luxury and with its own luxury mall and arts centre right next door.

Hotels in Istanbul welcome weekend break holidaymakers and city break visitors, although if you want all the usual beach holiday experiences there are some amazing resorts and hotel complexes all along both the Mediterranean and the Bosphorus coastlines. Head to the Shangri-La Bosphorus for an exclusive, 5-star break, or book a Glimpse of Istanbul four-day tour that takes you to all the most famous tourist attractions in the city as well as a cruise along the Bosphorus and a visit to the Spice Bazaar.

Why go on holiday to Istanbul with Qatar Airways Holidays?/strong>

If you want the ultimate city break to a destination that’s unlike any other you’ll ever visit, with surprises around every corner, stunning gardens and parks, and the warmest of welcomes, then Istanbul is the place to visit. Package deals to Istanbul with Qatar Airways Holidays take care of every detail including hotels, flights and transfers, so all you have to do is relax and enjoy your experience of one of the oldest and most fascinating cities in the world.

Good to know

Time Zone

GMT +3 hours

Languages

Turkish, English

Dialing Code

+90

Electricity

230V 50Hz

Currency

Turkish lira

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!