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Cheap holidays to Istanbul are easy to come by with the help of TravelSupermarket. Find out what to see and do while you are there...
Straddling the immense Bosphorus River where Europe becomes Asia in northern Turkey, the city of Istanbul will seep into your mind from the moment you arrive. The city is awash with noise: the constant hum of traffic; the evening prayer call swirling away from the Blue Mosque; fervent haggling in the buzzing souks; the clink of newly-drained cups being returned to saucers in cosy cafés; the clack of backgammon and chess pieces as elderly gents do nothing but age alongside their friends; the tinkling of drinking glasses as a group of hip youngsters celebrate a day well spent; and there's something else too, it's possibly the world turning its collective head to see what's happening in one of the planet's most exciting and promising destinations.
Tourists have long been tuned into Istanbul's wavelength however, even if everyone else is only just cottoning on. This ancient city has been welcoming foreign visitors for thousands of years, with modern holidaymakers wielding cameras and guidebooks to unearth tourist diamonds such as Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, and Hagia Sophia. Traditional summer pursuits are easy to come by too when taking holidays to Istanbul. A dazzling set of beaches can be found within an hour's drive of the city. Istanbul is well connected by a great network of public transportation options, so you can see the sights in the morning and be sunning yourself on the sands come the afternoon.
Many hotels in the city feature swimming pools however, so you needn't travel far to soak up the sunshine after taking a cooling dip. Luxury four- and five-star hotels can be found along the banks of the Bosphorus and in the main tourist areas of Sultan Ahment Camii, Cankurtaran and Aya Sofya.
You can find many deals on Istanbul holidays when you use the search tool on TravelSupermarket.
Find out what to expect of the weather in Istanbul...
The summer months of June, July, August and September experience hot days and warm evenings and the sun beats down for up to 12 hours a day - air-conditioned hotel rooms will be very welcome during this time. Late spring and early autumn are popular times to visit Istanbul, as many tourists prefer to see the sights when it's a bit cooler. Winter in Istanbul is fairly cool and quite wet. You'll need a few layers if you visit in winter; daytime temperatures in January, for example, drop below 10C.
Istanbul, home to around 14 million people, offers an enviable list of annual events that showcase the nation's cultural passions...
International Istanbul Music Festival; May-June: This feast of opera and classical music has been delighting visitors for decades. You can see and hear events in one of Istanbul's many striking venues.
Efes Pilsen One Love Festival; June/July: Rock, pop and dance make for a dizzying trio of musical notes during this popular open-air event. Past performers include Manic Street Preachers, Happy Mondays and Hot Chip.
Istanbul Marathon; November: Run (or watch others working up a sweat) during this unique marathon, which begins in Asia on the Bosphorus Bridge and ends in Europe in Sultanahmet Square, in the shadow of the mosque.
Istanbul never fails to wow visitors with a range of attractions and unforgettable experiences...
Kids and teens: With a couple of aquariums, a marine park, nearby beaches and islands, and terrific family-friendly city pleasures, such as the old-fashioned tram, Istanbul is a surprisingly good destination for travellers with children.
Romance: See Istanbul and the Golden Horn at sunset from the peak of Pierre Loti hill - a reputed meeting point for lovers in the past and simply a wonderful spot from which to view the city.
Relaxing: Indulge in a little “me time” at one of the city's Turkish Baths, also known as a hammam (or hamam). For many tourists, this is a vital part of a trip to Istanbul. You can get scrubbed, rubbed, soothed and massaged at one of the city hammams; there are plenty within the tourist areas.
Shopping: Stock up on Turkish Delight, spices, traditional tea - maybe even a new rug - when you tour the amazing markets of Istanbul, such as the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar. Modern shopping malls can also be found all over Istanbul.
Nightlife: When the dark hours arrive, Istanbul shows off a very different side. There are cosy little cafés where you can smoke a hooka pipe, slick riverside bars that lure the fashionable crowd, friendly neighbourhood drinking establishments, glitzy cocktail bars in the city's most sumptuous hotels, and a huge range of nightclubs that dance to the beat of a range of musical tastes. The night is what you make it in Istanbul!