Four Great Days in Istanbul

Istanbul is a frenetic city with a wealth of culture, history and nightlife. Split in two by the Bosphorous Strait, it is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, Europe and Asia, and thus has two contrasting atmospheres. These itineraries are designed to give you a flavour of the city as a whole. All the sights are crossreferenced to the rest of the guide, so you can look up more information and tailor the day to suit your needs. Price guides include meals, transport and admission fees.

•Refresh your senses in the Spice Bazaar
•Shop for antiques in Çukurcuma
•Haggle in the Grand Bazaar
•Enjoy the buzz on Nevizade Sokak
TWO ADULTS allow US$105
TheSpice Bazaar is a riot of colour, stalls and smells, where you can buy any number of exotic foodstuffs, including handmadeTurkish delight and creamy goats’ cheese. From here, head up to the bustling Grand Bazaar, a labyrinthine Ottoman shopping complex housing thousands of leather, rug, ceramics and jewellery shops. Prices are inflated and price tags often absent altogether so remember to bargain. All this shopping is bound to whet your appetite, so head for the waterfront district of Kumpkapı, where you will find more than 50 fish restaurants vying for your attention. Again, many outlets do not display prices, so ask before you order.
Afternoon Revived and restored, take a taxi to the GalataBridge and stroll over to trendy Tünel and Beyoğlu, soaking up the view as you go. Take time to browse around the cosy cafés and bars in Tünel, before making your way up İstiklâl Cadessi to shop for clothes, shoes, books and music. Further up, the district of Çukurcuma is a hunting ground for antique furniture and ornaments.
NevizadeSokak, just off İstiklâl Cadessi, is a narrow street lined with dozens of meyhanes. The area really comes alive at night, when hundreds of locals flock here and passers-by are serenaded by traditional musicians.

•See Istanbul in miniature
•A boat trip to Büyükada
•A horse-drawn carriage ride around Büyükada
Catch a bus fromTaksim Square to Miniatürk  located in Sütlüce on the northern shore of the GoldenHorn. The park displays miniatures of the city’s most famous sights, such as HaghiaSophia, as well as other treasures from around the country that reflect Turkey’s rich heritage. There is also a children’s park and a
museum showcasing photographs of Atatürk, the great Turkish leader of the early 20th century, and the wars in Gallipoli. When you get hungry, head to Miniatürk’s attractive café-restaurant that overlooks the Golden Horn.

Head back to Istanbul after lunch and hop on a boat bound for the island of Büyükada, one of the nine that make up the Princes’ Islands 99. It is a one-and-a-half hour trip from the docks at Eminönü, so there is plenty of time to admire the view as Istanbul recedes on the horizon. Once you have landed, stroll around the main square of Saat Meydani or take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the island. Climb the hill toSt George’s Monastery for panoramic views and a meal at the hilltop restaurant.

•Byzantine iconography at Haghia Sophia
•Glimpse the past at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
•An awe-inspiring visit to Topkapi Palace

Start at the Blue Mosque, perhaps Istanbul’s most elegant Islamic sight, famous for its slender minarets and blue Iznik tiles. Stroll through the welltended garden at the front before making your way to imposing Haghia Sophia, another of Istanbul’s most renowned mosques. Inside is a marvellous array of Byzantine
mosaics, friezes and Iznik blue tile decorations, as well as a huge domed ceiling. Then head to the nearby
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, which has a wonderful collection of glass and metalwork, carpets and manuscripts from down the centuries, as well as modern art from Turkey and overseas. Head toYesil Ev YY for lunch, a lovely Ottoman style restaurant between the museum and Topkapı Palace, serving traditional fare.

You will need at least three YY hours to appreciate Topkapi Palace, a sprawling complex of courtyards, gardens, fountains, a harem and a collection of priceless antiques. Then, at the end of a long day, indulge
in that most Turkish of pleasures, a visit to a Turkish bath. Çemberlitas Baths (see p81)in Sultanahmet
is one of the finest.

•A boat up the Bosphorus
•Enjoy views at Fortress of Europe
•Stroll through the pretty village of Bebek

Catch a bus from Taksim Square or Eminönü bus terminus heading for Sarıyer or Emirgan and get off at
Arnavutköy on the Bosphorous. There are some lovingly restored Ottoman houses and mansions to admire here, most of them painted in pastel shades and trimmed with intricate wooden fretwork. Cafés line the back streets, so sit and linger over a coffee and a pastry. From Arnavutköy, continue walking northwards, past the fishing boats and pleasure cruisers bobbing on the water, until you reach Bebek, one of Istanbul’s most affluent villages. There are more than enough chic clothes and antiques shops here to tempt visitors to part with their cash and work up an appetite for lunch. Dine in style at thePoseidon. Here you can sip an aperitif and enjoy the splendid view before savouring the menu of fresh fish.

Delve into history at the imposingFortress of Europe, built in the 15th century as part of the Muslim conquest of Constantinople. There is also a fantastic view of the Bosphorus from here. Afterwards, walk around the delightful 19th-century pavilions of nearby Emirgan Park with its hundreds of pine, fir and cypress trees and an ornamental lake.

Istanbul is preparing to host the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit next Thursday and Friday. According to a statement from the president's...


Istanbul is preparing to host the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit next Thursday and Friday. According to a statement from the president's...