Istanbul is one of the world’s greatest cities. The combination of the old quarter with its ancient history is in striking contrast to the new vibrant business districts. The wonderful climate has made Istanbul a year-round destination and visitors can enjoy historic sights as well as the vibrant nightlife and designer shopping that is on offer at Turkey’s largest city.
Sightseeing – the autumn and winter months are the perfect seasons to enjoy the many historic buildings and stunning architecture in Istanbul. Some of the most iconic include the Hagia Sophia, a former church and later a mosque. This is now a museum and a great architectural beauty. The Blue Mosque is one of only a few in the world with six minarets and is still a place of prayer. A short ferry ride away is where you can explore the peaceful Üsküdar district and the legend-laden Maiden’s Tower set on an islet.
Shopping – from designer stores to bustling markets, Istanbul is a shopping paradise. Must visit markets include the Spice Bazaar, a bustling gastronomic utopia where you can pick up dried fruits, nuts, spices, olives, Turkish delight and oils. With more than 5,000 shops, the Grand Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world and a place where you can have fun grabbing a bargain.
Dining – Istanbul has everything you want in terms of food. From sophisticated fusion restaurants to traditional food stalls, there’s something for every taste and budget. Notable restaurants include the Leb-i derya in Tünel, or a more traditional option at Ciya in Kadiköy.
Partying – there’s no better way to enjoy the city than at one of the many rooftop bars. The 5 Kat restaurant offers views of the Bosphorus or take the elevator up to 360 Istanbul for cocktails to marvel at the city skyline.
Indulging – there’s plenty of historic hammams but if you want high-end pampering, take a visit to the Sentinus Wellness & Spa at the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus with more than 50 different treatments available.
Istanbul is a busy city but initiatives to help ease congestion are making a big impact. This includes the Marmaray Tunnel Link, which is part of a billion dollar infrastructure programme. It opened in 2014 and links Asia to Europe under the waters of the Bosporus. With a new railway, underground and metro linking the city center and Asia to the city's new regeneration areas such as Bahcesehir, Beylikduzu and Halkali in less than 30 minutes, there is lots of demand for property. Add to this the two Bosporus bridges that link both continents and the third one being built, which will be opened early in 2016, Istanbul is enjoying plenty of investment. The new bridge will again ease the traffic congestion but the main benefit is adding value to real estate and helping to expand the city to in excess of 25 million people by 2020.
Need to know
- You will need a visa before entering Turkey. It’s very simple to do online and for a cost of $20 or equivalent currency you can get a 90 days multi entry visa. For more info visit https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/
- Take a scarf with you when visiting mosques to cover your head.
- Wear socks because you will need to remove your shoes when entering a mosque.
- If you are planning on using public transport, buy an Istanbul Card in one of the automatic machines, which is accepted in all public transports even on the boats.
- For travel advice in Turkey, visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turkey/entry-requirements
Istanbul has two airports. The first is Ataturk Airport on the European side and the second is Sabiha Gökçen situated on the Asian side of Istanbul about 30km south east of the ferry dock at Kadikoy. Investors will be pleased to learn that currently on the European side there is a third Istanbul International Airport being built due for completion at the end of 2018. Once it is finished it will have 150 million yearly passenger capacity, making it the world's third largest airport.
Tolga Ertukel, Founder of Turkey Homes says: “The chances are you will be offered Turkish tea (Cay) served in a tulip-shaped glass. This is a great cultural tradition and one that the locals regularly partake in, so join in to relax and experience the Turkish way of life.”