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Istanbul in a weekend

22nd Feb 2013 by Just You

Visit old Constantinople, the only city in the world that spans two continents.

1. Hagia Sophia

If you can arrive at this wondrous basilica, mosque and museum in the morning, do so. You’ll be able to enjoy it when few people are around, and have the chance to take photos in peace. See the altar/mihrab first, then head upstairs to view the mosaics while the crowds swell below.

2. Grand Bazaar

Shopping in the Grand Bazaar is an exercise in haggling, patience, stamina and luck. There are over 4,000 shops and stalls here, selling everything from leather goods and ceramics to carpets and jewellery. The Spice Market offers a similar experience, but is smaller and much more exotic.

3. Topkapi Palace

Like many of the sights on the Istanbul tourist trail, Topkapi Palace is best viewed in the morning before the crowds descend. Be sure to visit the Imperial Treasury and the Harem, where the sultan’s wives and concubines would have lived. There’s not much shade and it can get very hot in the summer. Take your own water.

4. Basilica Cistern

On a hot Istanbul day, try a cooling visit to this cathedral-sized Roman cistern. Capable of holding 100,000 tons of water, this subterranean marvel has 336 marble columns. It can be slippery, so watch your footing and wear good shoes.

5. Blue Mosque

Located opposite the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque is another must-see stop. Women will need to cover their heads, no shorts are allowed, and all shoes must be removed. Our tip: take your own plastic bag to carry your shoes and wear socks if you don’t want to walk bare-footed.


Istanbul is a city of colourful contrasts. On the 5-day Istanbul City Break you will have the opportunity to really get to know the rich charms and exotic traits of this fascinating city.

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