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Emma Petty Author: Emma Petty
Last updated: 22 February 2019

Istanbul is known for its seamless mix of historic architecture and modern culture; as the only major city in the world to border two continents, it should be bumped right to the top of your travel wish list. You may have already heard of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia but there are endless corners of this beautiful city to uncover. Here are our top five places to visit – we’ll see you in Istanbul!


A sea of treasure and a haggler’s paradise. As the world’s largest covered market, you’ll be stuck for choice in the Grand Bazaar with over 4000 vendors, selling everything from traditional textiles to handmade jewellery. Spend an afternoon getting lost in the bazaar and immerse yourself in this Turkish delight – and don’t be afraid to haggle down the price of something you have your eye on! Vendors tend to market their produce much higher to tourists so be sure to play the game and never take their first offer.

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Leave no treasure undiscovered ✨ discover something new with us at YOTEL Istanbul, coming soon . . 📸 @istanbul

A post shared by YOTEL (@yotel) on Nov 21, 2018 at 9:15am PST


Prepare to be amazed, intrigued and inspired. The whirling dervishes perform their peaceful and mesmerizing ceremony to small crowds around the city – with traditional music chiming throughout the room, the dervishes gently spin while wearing long skirts which flair and spin with their owners. The practice is believed to evoke inner peace and bring the dervishes closer to Allah. With over 800 years of heritage, the Sema Ceremony is recognised as one of the most sacred rituals of Turkish history.

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Over the next two weeks, @1843mag will share our most popular images from 2018. This image, our tenth most popular of the year, shows whirling dervishes twirling, mimicking the circuit of blood through the body and the planets around the sun. To commemorate the Sufi poet Rumi’s “marriage to Allah”, his followers – and well-wishers from around the world – celebrate his “wedding night” with an unusual party every year in Konya, the Turkish city that houses his tomb. Drummers and a reed player set the pace, as dervishes, looking like brides in their demure white frocks, imitate the dance that Rumi taught them. Image: Robert Harding #rumi #sufism #whirlingdervishes #poetry #dance #turkey #travel #vautlevoyage

A post shared by The Economist (@theeconomist) on Dec 22, 2018 at 2:03pm PST


Head to the Galata Bridge on a sunny day and see Istanbul in all its glory. The city’s skyline is like something from a fairy-tale, with grand mosques and structures like the infamous Galata Tower. Originally built in 1845, the bridge closes the gap between the North and the South of the city and is the perfect place to spend a summer’s afternoon. Visit the local eateries and vendors on the bridge’s lower level before heading to the top deck for a spot of fishing! This is where you’ll find most locals in the Summer seasons, with the Golden Horn River being one of the city’s key sources of fish.


The Asian side of Istanbul is often unexplored but can be the perfect remedy to the hectic, tourist-driven European side. Just over the Bosphorus bridge is a side of the city with a culture and beauty of its own. What better way explore a new neighbourhood than tasting its traditional and quirky culinary offerings? There is a huge array of markets, bars and restaurants for you to try, without the commercial flare of the European side. Indulge in some baklava and apple tea on the water front or explore the backstreets of the mainland – top notch views guaranteed.

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#kızkulesi akşam keyfi...

A post shared by Mustafa Tayfun Özcan (@mstfatyfn) on Oct 5, 2018 at 10:46am PDT


If you’re the type of traveller who likes to immerse themselves in the local culture more than taking edgy pictures of their food, a Turkish bath is the one for you. Traditional hamams date back to the height of the Ottoman Empire as a spiritual tradition as well as a place to socialise. If you’re not afraid to bear all (Don’t worry, hamams are usually gender segregated) then brace yourself for a full body exfoliation and massage – it’s not the most relaxing of processes but you’ll feel utterly reborn once it’s over. There are spaces to soak, steam and relax after you’ve been scrubbed so take some time to unwind before heading back out to the city.