Istanbul spans two continents and the Bosphorus divides this hectic city. Dress conservatively to visit the Blue Mosque and allow enough time to admire Topkapi Palace, once home to the Ottoman rulers. Don't miss a visit to the Grand Bazaar and be prepared to haggle for carpets and souvenirs. Wander along fashionable Istiklal Caddesi, crammed with shops and galleries and relax in a traditional hammam being scrubbed from top to toe.
Treat yourself to fresh fish or a meze at a waterfront cafe in Ortakay and then enjoy a classical or gypsy music performance or dance to live music on the outdoor terraces in the summer.
For unparalleled views of the Golden Horn, take the new cable car from Eyup to the summit of the Hill of Pierre Loti. Up here, stop for a bite to eat at the old Pierre Loti Café while admiring the marvellous panorama of this beautiful estuary, watching Bosphorous-bound vessels coming and going . Eyup can be reached via boat from the Galata Bridge, and while there, make time for a visit to the ancient Sultan Mosque - one of Istanbul’s holiest sites.
Istanbul is jam-packed with unique events all year round. Those who like to indulge in some retail therapy on their travels might enjoy the Istanbul Shopping Festival which takes place over March and April and includes fashion shows and parties, as well as discounts and duty-free deals for overseas visitors. For something a bit more cultural, June’s International Istanbul Music Festival involves more than 500 artists performing in historic venues such as the Topkapi Palace.