Mysterious and majestic, noisy and fabulously beautiful, Istanbul is a bridge between Europe and Asia, between the traditional East and the modern West. Throughout its rich history, he managed to change several names and visit the capital of four empires: Roman and Byzantine, Ottoman and Latin.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Turkey is 85.04 million (2021).
The main cultural, commercial and industrial center is divided into two halves even geographically. It is located on two banks of the Bosporus, which means it is on two continents at once. The European part of Istanbul is conditionally divided by the Golden Horn Bay: the Old City with its famous sights has largely retained its medieval appearance, while business and trade life is concentrated in the New. The Asian part is less popular with tourists, but it is here that you can study the traditions and life of local residents in great detail.
How to get to Istanbul
The only way to get directly from Russia to Istanbul is by air. Almost all flights arrive at the new Istanbul Airport. The range of offers from well-known airlines includes about 20 direct flights on any date from Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities, and charter flights also fly. Taxis and shuttle buses run from the airport to the center of Istanbul.
You can get to Istanbul from Bulgaria, Romania and other European countries by train or bus. Trains arrive at Sirkeci Station, buses arrive at Buyuk Otogar Central Bus Station.
The district is Istanbul
The Greater Istanbul urban agglomeration includes 39 administrative districts, each of which is divided into several quarters.
Fatih is the main district of the central part of the city, one of the most orthodox and conservative in Istanbul. The most popular quarter for tourists is Sultanahmet, which is included in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List, with St. Sophia Cathedral, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome and dozens of other unique historical monuments. The Eminonu quarter is one of the oldest in the city, famous for its museums, mosques and colorful oriental bazaars, including the legendary Spice Market.
Beyoglu is the New City, the main cultural, commercial and entertainment center of modern Istanbul. Here are located the quarters of Karakoy, Galatasaray and Taksim – places where the best shops, art galleries, antique shops and coffee shops gather. This is a multinational area that has become home not only for the Turks, but also for representatives of the Jewish and Christian communities. Beyoglu is visited daily by more than a million people, most of whom are tourists. The center of the district is Taksim Square, the terminal station of many buses and one of the metro lines. The main sights of the square are the Independence Monument and the Center of Culture. Ataturk. Galatasaray is an ancient quarter founded in the Byzantine era. Many ancient Genoese buildings have been preserved here, the most famous of which isGalata tower, symbol of the district. A little to the south is Karakoy, which connects Beyoglu with the historical center on the other side of the Golden Horn.
The pride of the Karakoy quarter is fish restaurants with the freshest seafood.
Another famous district of Istanbul is the prestigious Besiktas, located on the European coast of the Bosphorus. Here are Ortakoy Marina, Sinan Pasha Mosque, Yildiz and Dolmabahce Palaces, Barbarossa Square. There are many hotels in Besiktas, most of which are quite expensive.
Kadikoy is one of the main areas in the Asian side of Istanbul, an ideal place for entertainment and shopping. Luxurious malls, clubs and restaurants have turned it into a mecca for wealthy Turkish youth.
Of course, in Istanbul there are not only the main tourist streets, but also working outskirts, one of which is the Zeytinburnu district, located on the European coast of the Sea of Marmara. Its main population is migrants from the east of the country who come here to work.
Guests of Istanbul have no problems with accommodation in the city: hotels of various levels are located here literally at every step. Oddly enough, room prices do not depend much on the location of the hotel, therefore, when choosing a district, you should focus not on the budget, but on your own goals. Those who travel to Istanbul on business can settle in ordinary residential areas. Travelers who are in the mood for sightseeing most often choose the Sultanahmet areaand Beyoglu. Numerous architectural monuments are concentrated in the first one, colorful shops with oriental goods and restaurants of national cuisine are concentrated in the second. Most of the hotels in the vicinity of the Blue Mosque are located in restored old buildings. There are many inexpensive hostels and cafes in Taksim and the Akbiyik Caddesi street area. Lovers of nightlife are best to stay in the Istiklal area, connoisseurs of true luxury – in the west, along the coast of the Bosphorus.
Room prices range from 66 TRY in budget hotels to 1660 TRY in luxury luxury hotels. In most local hotels, you can bargain with the owners, with the exception of chain and premium hotels. When checking into inexpensive hotels, you should pay attention to the quality hotel mark, which means that the amenities here are in the room, and not on the floor.
Communication and Wi-Fi
Mobile communications in Turkey are carried out by the “big three” operators: Turkcell, Avea and Vodafone. The cheapest services are from Avea, the most expensive from Turkcell. Local SIM cards can be bought at company offices located at every turn, as well as at newsstands and hotel lobbies. SIM cards are sold on a prepaid basis, the average cost of a basic package is 12-85 TRY.
Turkish tariffs, as a rule, are a single set of services with a predetermined amount of Internet traffic, the number of SMCs and minutes for calls. There are also special “tourist SIM cards” with free incoming and inexpensive outgoing. The cheapest way to call from payphones is to purchase a Telekart Satelik phone card.
You should study the conditions of tariffs in advance, because consultants in stores most often offer the most expensive options to ignorant tourists.
Free Wi-Fi is available in many cafes, restaurants, shopping centers and hotels located in the city center. Stability and connection speed depend on the location of the institution and the number of visitors. Recently, free Wi-Fi is available in the largest squares and in the public centers of Istanbul.
Istanbul guest card
The Guest Card is an easy and convenient way to explore the city. The simplest option (Classic Card) includes 5 trips on public transport, a Bosphorus cruise and discounts at some shops and cafes. In addition, there are Premium cards (10 transport trips + fast track entry to Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia) and Deluxe cards (12 additional museums and more). The undoubted advantage of such cards is that they can be ordered in advance online, received at the hotel and immediately started using.
Museum map of Istanbul
In order to save money when traveling to Istanbul, many travelers buy Museum Pass Istanbul. The features of the card are free admission to 15 state museums of the city and up to 40% discounts on organized excursions and visits to private galleries, restaurants and cafes.
The price of the city pass is 325 TRY, it is active for 120 hours (5 days) from the first entrance to the museum. More information is available on the Istanbul Museum Map page.
Guests of Istanbul have a unique opportunity to relax on the shores of two seas: Black and Marble. The most famous beaches on the coast of the Sea of Marmara are located in the Asian part of the city, in the Kadikoy area, in Jaddebostan. Their main advantages are free admission, developed infrastructure (there are showers, toilets, changing rooms, umbrellas, sun loungers) and comfortable water temperature – the sea is shallow here and warms up very quickly. The beach in Fenerbahce Bay is more cozy and secluded: it can accommodate only 50 visitors. Here, too, there is everything you need to relax: changing cabins, toilets, a cafe and a small restaurant.
Jaddebostan is the area of the most famous Istanbul beaches on the coast of the Marmara Sea.
The most popular beach in the European part of the coast of the Sea of Marmara is “Floria” with a sandy shore and a convenient entrance to the sea. The beach is paid, but visitors are provided with a whole range of exciting entertainment: from sports equipment rental to incendiary dances in bars and discos.
The most famous holiday destinations on the Black Sea coast are the Kilyos area with many private beaches, as well as the resort area of Sile. The Agva beach located here is an ideal place for lovers of active leisure. Here you can ride a yacht, go in for water sports and even go fishing. The second beach of the zone, of the same name “Sile”, is more suitable for connoisseurs of a calm, peaceful holiday.
However, you can feel yourself in a real seaside resort only on the Princes’ Islands with their amazing landscapes. The sea here is clear, clean and warm, and any transport is prohibited on the coast, except for bicycles and horse-drawn teams. The largest and most popular of the islands is Buyukada, where luxurious hotels, restaurants and villas of wealthy Istanbulites are located.