East Meets West — Istanbul
Travel3 Minutes Read

East Meets West — Istanbul

April 18, 2022 Share

Istanbul — the city was, for a long time, the centre of the world. It is a place where East meets West, where culture and religion flourish, a place where adventurers and explorers have flocked to throughout the ages.

Today’s Istanbul is no different, the city is incredibly vibrant, bustling, and, although a modern town, it retains its charm as the centre of the old world. Its streets — narrow and crowded with hawkers and small cafes — take travellers to a time when Constantinople ruled the world.

Staying in this timeless city is a must on most bucket lists but what should you do while you’re here?

Don’t worry, DDW has got you covered — there are endless sites in this city. Here are a few of the top attractions.

Istanbul's skyline.
Istanbul, the centre of the old world. Credit: Anna Berdnik

Explore the Hagia Sofia

Few buildings are as well known and revered as the grand Hagia Sofia. The mosque, in its current form, was constructed as a cathedral by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century. It features a truly colossal dome that dominates Istanbul’s skyline and is surrounded by four minarets — added by the Ottoman Turks.

Stepping onto the grounds leaves visitors awe-struck as they look up at this nearly 1500-year-old building. It features both Islamic and Christian art and architecture — the Byzantine and Ottoman styles whisk travellers through thousands of years of history in the span of a few hours.  

A plane flying far over the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul.
The Hagia Sofia is one of Istanbul’s many famous tourist attractions. Credit: Raimond Klavins

In a city known for bridging the Christian and Muslim worlds, there is no better example than the Hagia Sofia.

The site is, once again, a working mosque — in 2020 it was converted from a museum. With that in mind, clothing should be respectful — no shorts, covered shoulders and women will want to cover their hair. Headscarves are provided at the entrance free of charge.

Meander through Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

Have your eye on a quality Turkish carpet? No Problem. Want a dazzling ceramic lamp to hang in your home? Done. The list goes on and on. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar has everything you would want from coffee to hookahs from metalware to jewels.

Lamp's being sold at Istanbul's Grand Bazaar.
Istanbul’s famous lamps are one of the many wares sold at the Grand Bazaar. Credit: Svetlana Gumerova

The Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. With 61 streets and more than four thousand shops, the Bazaar is a literal labyrinth and visitors could spend days looking for the perfect deals.

The Bazaar can be a crush, for travellers who don’t feel comfortable exploring the market on their own, or for those who wish to learn more about the extensive history of the streets, booking a tour is the way to go. Your hotel should be able to help book you the perfect day at the market.

Cruise the Bosphorus at Sunset

What’s better than wandering an ancient city with endless and incredible sights? How about viewing them from a luxury yacht at sunset?

Several companies offer cruises at sunset, www.bosphorusyacht.com is particularly good.

A mosque seen from the Bosphorus.
Sailing the Bosphorus at sunset offers incredible views. Credit: Meric Dagli

The cruise offers incredible views of Istanbul’s skyline and includes tea and coffee or champagne and cocktails for those wishing to imbibe.

Guests can embark and depart from several areas along the straits, allowing for a tailored trip around the city. The standard yacht holds 12-guests, although larger boats can be chartered.

Istanbul continues to inspire travellers from across the globe, its authenticity, history and mix of incredible culture will continue to do so for generations to come.

It’s time to book your flight and experience the true melding of the East and West — it’s time to experience Istanbul.

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Author: Matthew Dooley