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Istanbul: the city of two continents

Flights to Istanbul see you straddle two worlds: Europe to the west and Asia to the east.

Separated by the Bosphorus Strait but united by the skyline, this special city is a melting pot of culture, history and civilisation.

aerial view of central istanbul from galata tower

Istanbul looks beautiful at different times of day and year and from various vantage points. Cruising down the Bosphorus allows you to marvel at the city from the water. Or, for an equally dazzling perspective, peer down from the heights of Galata Tower. On a clear day you’ll notice the Princes’ Islands – an essential day trip.

But Istanbul is as much about amazing flavours as it is about awesome vistas.

Middle Eastern, central Asian and Mediterranean flavours fuse to create mouth-watering Turkish cuisine – and you’ll find this great food all across Istanbul.

From restaurants of Michelin star quality to street food pop-ups, there is something to tantalise all tastes.

Book your flight to Istanbul with Etihad Airways today.

What’s the weather like in Istanbul?

What’s the weather like in Istanbul?

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The temperature in Istanbul peaks in July and August, reaching highs of around 27°C. So you can expect hot and sunny weather if you fly to Istanbul during the summer months. Spring and autumn conditions are milder but still very pleasant.

In winter, the temperature averages around 8°C and on some colder days, there’s a chance of snow – which brings a whole other atmosphere to the historic streets. Schedule a trip to the Turkish baths for an amazing, warming experience.

Reasons to visit Istanbul

inside the blue mosque in istanbul

Mosques and museums

Begin your visit to Istanbul at Hagia Sophia. This stunning building is a former Greek Orthodox cathedral that became a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. The current structure was built over 1,500 years ago and is now one of the most visited museums in the world. Look out for the breathtaking mosaics and dramatic doors (one glorying in the name ‘The Nice Door’) as well as urns, columns and the Empress Lodge.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque – known as the Blue Mosque – is equally impressive. Head inside and you’ll be drenched in numerous vivid shades of topaz, sapphire and cyan. A magnificent building on the inside and out, this is a sight not to be missed.

a variety of herbs and spices on a market stall

Barter at the Bazaar

With over 60 alleyways and 4,000 shops, the Grand Bazaar alone is worth booking your Istanbul plane tickets for. This bustling market is one of the largest and oldest in the world, built in the mid-15th century by Mehmet the Conqueror. Get lost in the labyrinth and haggle like a local for the items that catch your eye.

Rugs, mosaic lanterns and ceramic pots are some of the traditional Istanbul treasures to be found – you’ll also see crafts being made by stallholders as you browse. Don’t be scared to bid low when you haggle – that’s the way to secure yourself a brilliant bargain.

view from footbridge on water in basilica cistern istanbul turkey

Go underground

Dating back over 1,500 years, the Basilica Cistern was built to supply the city with water, and now you can visit and admire the unusual architecture and impressive engineering. Descend its stone steps into the cavernous depth of the cistern and you’ll be struck by the grandeur of this subterranean gem.

Keep an eye out for fish as they silently glide under the water’s surface. Emperor Justinian commissioned the building, and the cistern is one of the earliest examples of recycling – a number of the 336 columns that hold it up were taken from the ruins of temples.

Things to know before you fly to Istanbul

plane Transfers from New Istanbul Airport

New Istanbul Airport (IST) is around 25 miles (40 kilometres) from Taksim Square and 30 miles (48 kilometres) from Sultanahmet. You can arrange a transfer with Etihad Airways. When you land, a driver will be waiting for you in arrivals. Another transfer option is the airport’s shuttle service, called Havaist.

charities Cultural considerations

Around 98% of Turkey’s population is Muslim. Visitors should dress modestly, especially when visiting mosques. During Ramadan (the ninth month of the lunar calendar) it’s polite to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking outside during the daytime.

bus Getting around

There are plenty of public transport options in Istanbul. Taking the ferry across the Bosphorus is a good way of avoiding traffic on the bridge. There is also a metro that connects all of the major neighbourhoods.

holiday Public holidays

There are a number of public holidays each year in Turkey and Istanbul. Some, such as Republic Day on October 29 and the Ataturk Commemoration on May 19, are fixed in the calendar. Religious holidays such as Eid work to the Islamic calendar, which falls differently each year.

Flying to Istanbul: FAQs

Where should I stay in Istanbul?

Beyoğlu, on the eastern side of the river, is a trendy area filled with boutique hotels, cobbled streets and shops. Many visiting families find Sultanahmet’s central location ideal. From ancient sites to cafes and shops, it has everything you could need. If you’re energised by Istanbul’s hustle and bustle, stay in Taksim.

What should I see in Istanbul?

Istanbul is dotted with prominent landmarks, sites and attractions. The most famous include the Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet mosques, the Grand Bazaar, and the Topkapi Palace. The celebrated Kariye Museum is an impressive embodiment of the Byzantine style you’ll find dotted across the city.

How many days should I spend in Istanbul?

You can see many of Istanbul’s major landmarks in three to five days. But if you wish to truly immerse yourself in the city and explore surrounding areas such as the Princes’ Islands, Troy and Belgrad Ormani, then double the duration of your stay to a week or more.

What is the currency in Istanbul?

The currency in Istanbul is the Turkish lira (TRY). However, merchants in some tourist areas may accept euros.

Why we love Istanbul

“One of the joys of visiting Istanbul is exploring the history of the city – there are so many museums, galleries and attractions to visit, as well as authentic places to eat. Plus, you’re only a short trip away from some amazing beaches”

Weather in Istanbul

27 °C
Saturday26 Sep 2020
24 °C
Sunday27 Sep 2020
25 °C
Monday28 Sep 2020
25 °C
Tuesday29 Sep 2020
22 °C
Wednesday30 Sep 2020
22 °C
Thursday1 Oct 2020
24 °C
Friday2 Oct 2020
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