ISTANBUL TRAVEL GUIDE - FAMOUS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Istanbul Must See Sites, Places You Must Visit While In Istanbul
A heady mix of the old East and modern influences; Istanbul is a vibrant capital glittering with glamorous nightspots, contemporary art galleries, breathtaking vistas and impressive Mosques.
With its own currency, the Turkish Lira, Turkey is becoming increasingly popular with budget conscious travellers anxious to escape the strong Euro against the pound, and with cheap flights and Turkey holidays available online with Easyjet and Fly Monarch, the city is the perfect choice for a weekend getaway.
If you're short on time and money, then here is a quick guide to the must see sights of this bustling city:
This impressive Byzantine Cathedral Church is a must for culture-vultures; built by the emperor Justinian in 537 AD, it plays an integral role in the city's architectural history, and the imposing dome dominates the Istanbul skyline.
Now a museum, come prepared to crane your necks to clock the entirety of the building's grand interior. For a more contemporary architectural gem, head to the Istanbul Modern, a privately-owned gallery in a waterfront Warehouse that houses revolving exhibitions of local art. The cafe and restaurant is decked out in chic minimalist interiors and is run by one of the city's most famed chefs.
Rustem Pasha Camii
Most tourists head straight to the Blue Mosque to sample Islamic traditions, but this mosque is hidden behind a warren of alleyways, and offers a much quieter, authentic experience.
The Mosque was built on top of an old workshop, and inside the walls are adorned with vibrant tiles, dating from the 1500s.
The Sultan's Palace was built to commemorate the last of the Byzantine emperors in 1453 and is a treasure trove, the gem of the Ottoman Empire, with all the pomp and swagger of Versailles.
Today the complex houses an informative museum of Turkish history and culture, stuffed with jewels, paintings, manuscripts and prized objects from the Mecca.
You can also take a tour of the Harem, the royal apartments. For more world-class exhibits, the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, housed in another palace is filled with important art.
The Grand Bazaar
Forget about the touristy atmosphere, the Grand Bazaar is a must see sight for any first time visitor, and it's a truly Turkish experience - just wander in, try your hand at bartering, and pray you'll find your way out, hopefully with arms full of beautiful carpets, brass lamps or gold jewellery.
More seasoned bargain-hunters can try the Atlas Pasaji, Turkey's answer to Portobello Market, packed with stalls of second-hand clothes, or the Covered Bazaar, a maze of 4,000 shops selling everything from books to Turkish delight.