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Bosphorus bridge overlooking Istanbul waterfront

Step back in time on short breaks to Istanbul, for Ottoman riches, lively street markets and romantic boat rides.

The Bosphorus waterway divides Istanbul into Europe and Asia. On the European side, Sultanahmet is the historic jewel in the old city, where patterned tiles dazzle inside the Blue Mosque. Trams whiz across Galata Bridge to the new city, where Beyoglu buzzes with lively meyhane taverns and sleek rooftop bars.

Best of Istanbul city breaks for...

  • Shopping: Practise haggling inside the medieval Grand Bazaar. Edge past hand-painted ceramics and windows glowing with gold jewellery, as smooth-talking carpet sellers entice you in with a glass of tea.
  • Romance: Take a sunset sail on the Bosphorus, criss-crossed with boats. On deck, sip tea while spotting Istanbul's palaces and traditional wooden houses hugging the waterfront.
  • Families: Kids will gasp at the glittering treasures inside Topkapi Palace, where sultans once lived. Thousand-year-old jewel-encrusted swords anyone?