Top 10 things to do in Istanbul

Istanbul is the place where lifestyles and trends are born. With a population of more than 14.3 million in 2014, the city is second largest in the Middle East and the fifth-largest city in the world by population within city limits. Its commercial and historical center lies in Europe, while a third of its population lives in Asia. Istanbul’s strategic position in the heart of Eurasia, along the rail networks of Europe and Middle East and the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean makes it the most important city in the Turkish economy and the ideal hub into the complete Eurasian region.

The best way to understand the unique and vibrant city of Istanbul, its special atmosphere and its cultural mix is to see all this first-hand:

Explore the Grand Bazaar and find beautiful clothes, textiles, antiques and much at Istanbul’s most famous Bazaar. With close to 4000 shops and 300,000 visitors each day it is the ideal place to get lost whilst enjoying the excitement and buzz of authentic shopping. http://www.kapalicarsi.org.tr/

If you have a spare evening, this will be the most breathtaking use of your time. Take an evening cruise (especially on a Saturday night from 6pm to 12am). Discover the Bosphorus by moonlight and let the city lights guide you. http://www.sehirhatlari.com.tr/en/

You could spend hours in this splendour of a buıldıng which has been a Christian Church, a Mosque and is now a Museum. Steeped in history, the Aya Sofya has many stories to tell and will leave you wanting to know more. http://ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr/

This stunning mosque is the religious center point of Istanbul. Start in the huge tiled courtyard leading through to the mosque where the dazzling chandeliers and beautiful mosaique motifs add to what is a moving experience. http://www.bluemosque.co/

Relax and reenergize with a traditional Turkish bathing experience. There are many to be found in the city however most well known and oldest (dating to 1584) is called Cemberlitas and offers reasonable packages for tourists. http://www.cemberlitashamami.com/

Just a short ferry ride away, these Islands are guaranteed to take you back in time. Enjoy the serenity and discover old villas from the comfort of a horse and carriage. The stunning scenery and sparkling waters of the Marmara Sea really do allow you to escape the bustling city. http://wikitravel.org/en/Istanbul/Princes%E2%80%99_Islands

Escape the heat and descend to the underground to explore the historical Basilica Cistern. A surprise awaits you! http://yerebatan.com/

For a 360° view of the city, make sure you visit the Galata Tower. It’s the perfect way to get your bearings of Istanbul from above. Just make sure you are comfortable with heights! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galata_Tower

You will need a few hours to explore the grounds and buildings of Topkapi Palace. Built in 1460 the palace sits upon 700.000 square meters and was the administrative, educational and art center of the Empire for nearly four hundred years. http://topkapisarayi.gov.tr/en

Whirling dervishes are deeply spiritual displays that ooze elegance and magic, featuring a group of dancers clad in white skirts that flare outwards as they spin with their arms raised upwards and consciences aligned with God. The ritual is a celebration of existence, and a deeply personal experience for those who witness it during their visit to Istanbul, with many establishments across the city making this possible. http://www.rumimevlevi.com/en/home-page