Winter – Autumn
March – May
LCY → IST
Up to 3 months
Taxi: 6 £GBP (40 min)
Bus: 2 £GBP (45 min)
Subway: 1 £GBP (30 min)
Istanbul represents a collision of East meets West in an exotic destination not only where worlds collide but old meets new. Straddling both Europe and Asia, this extraordinary Turkish city is a heady cultural melting pot with a rich history yet humming with modern life. It is a place where imposing Ottoman mosques share the skyline with sleek and shining skyscrapers.
It is these incredible contrasts that are all part of the city of Istanbul’s appeal. Despite being one of the busiest cities in the world, locals and visitors alike can’t help but be amazed by the awe-inspiring Ottoman architecture and beautiful Byzantine frescoes that mix with gleaming skyscrapers and modern art museums. The clash of cultures ensures one thing – Istanbul holidays are guaranteed to never be boring.
Due to the sheer size of Istanbul, its diverse topography and coastal location with coastlines on two different bodies of water to the north and to the south, the city exhibits microclimates. The north half of the city and the Bosporus coastline experience humidity from the Black Sea, while the south of the city on the Sea of Marmara is drier, warmer and less affected by humidity. There is a marked difference between average annual temperatures between the north and south as well, Bahcekoy has an average of 12.8 degrees Celcius (55.0 Fahrenheit), while in Kartal the mercury reaches 15.03 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) on average annually. One of the most noticeable climatic characteristics in parts of Istanbul is constantly high humidity, reaching 80 percent most mornings. Because of this, fog is common, more so in the north of the city and away from centre. Dense fog that disrupts transport in the region, including on the Bosphorus, are regular occurrences during autumn and winter months, when humidity remains high into the afternoon. The humidity and the fog tend lift by noon in the summer months, but the lingering humidity still exacerbates the moderately high summer temperatures which average about 29 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit).
Istanbul winters tend to be colder than in other cities around the Mediterranean Basin, with lows averaging 3 to 4 degrees Celsius (37 – 39 Fahrenheit).
Among the famous mosque domes and elegant Orthodox churches, on holidays to Istanbul you can see other markers of the city’s history, such as the Roman catacombs, the Byzantine battlements and the Ottoman palaces - some of which have been converted into the best places to stay in Istanbul. But Istanbul’s illustrious history is still being written.
Istanbul’s site, covering both sides of the narrow straight between the Black and Marmara seas called the Bosporus may be the reason behind the city's importance and wealth, but it is also its desirability when it comes to plunder.
For the contemporary visitor it also means fantastic views and many waterfronts to explore. Most visitors to the city head immediately for the Sultanahmet district, where the city’s iconic sights – the 6th century Aya Sofya cathedral, Topkapi Palace and the great mosques are within walking distance of each other. Along with having a number of stylish boutique hotels, this is also where you'll find the best places to stay on your Istanbul holidays if you're on a budget.
From ancient monuments and historic markets to hip bars and modern art museums it is perhaps unsurprising the range of things to do on offer on holidays in Istanbul reflect the city’s unique blend of the old and the new. Explore this exotic city and experience its rich culture, great shopping and lively nightlife.
Follow your nose and breathe in the aromas of exotic spices and browse the astounding range of goods on sale in Istanbul’s maze-like Grand Bazaar, which dates from 1461. Or for chain shopping and big-name brands visit the malls of the New City. If designer labels are what you’re seeking, head for Bagdat Caddesi or Nisantasi.
On a visit to the beautiful Topikapi Palace, make sure you stop at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum nearby to see the vast collection of priceless ancient artifacts. Marvel at the architectural splendor of Hagia Sofia basilica. Peruse contemporary Turkish art at the renowned Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.
Escape the frenetic pace of life on the streets with a gentle cruise on the Bosphorus on your Istanbul holidays. Or be scrubbed invigoratingly clean at a Turkish hammam.
Sip on rich Turkish coffee or sample sweet tea with the local populace in a traditional tea garden. Taste succulent meze followed by aniseed-infused raki in the Old City. Or feast on fresh fish at a Galata Bridge eatery.
Soak up the electric atmosphere while sipping on a glass of wine in a traditional tavern. Or enjoy watching the sunset over cocktails at a chic rooftop bar. Dance into the wee small hours under the stars at an open-air nightclub.