Istanbul is truly a fascinating city. It is replete with history and yet does not fail to look forward. It is a fascinating blend of an illustrious past and a forward-looking present. After all, emperors made their home here. It was also the center of commerce and religion during its heyday. The result is a host of tourist attractions that will keep you busy, busy, busy in your short stay. There are so many places to see, so many things to experience, so much to do!
What’s great is that most of the must-see sites are clustered near the Sultanahmet area, although there still are remarkable tourist attractions in other areas. A walk along the streets of Istanbul is like a trip back in time. You will see water houses dating back to the 16th century, 19th century houses and palaces, centuries old mosques, all mingling with modern shopping malls and McDonald’s.
Istanbul prides itself with its dynamic contemporary art scene, a host of colorful feasts and festivals, museums, mosques, cathedrals, palaces, and oh, so many more! Now, if you’re the type who wants to wine, dine and party the night away, you will find plenty of options – fabulous restaurants that serve an assortment of local and international cuisine, a vibrant nightlife and club scene, parks and sports arenas. Also, Istanbul is not a major destination for F1 races for nothing. It will also be the Culture Capital of the European Union in the year 2010.
The excitement of such colorful cultural offerings – a kaleidoscope of cultural, commercial and social pursuits. There are also a lot of festivals – film festivals, music festivals, festivals of arts. Istanbul is sort of a mecca for dance groups, international artists, chorale groups, orchestras. This is especially true during the famed International Music Festival. The month-long celebration during the month of June is a veritable smorgasbord of musical delights. Also, the Istanbul International Film Festival is recognized as one of the continent’s important festivals, while the Istanbul Biennial Fine Arts Festivals plays host to the city’s and the rest of the country’s up and coming artists.
Important cultural institutions you should remember to include in your list are: the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, the Istanbul Modern, the Istanbul Mosaic Museum, the Constantinople Palace, the Topkapi Palace, and of course, the famous Hagia Sophia. You will be surprised that these historic sites are also places where live concerts and shows are played. You can catch a show, if you come at the right time.
As for relaxation, you can take a swim at the beaches and lakeshore at the Bosphorus, Bakirkoy and the Princes’ Islands at the Marmara Sea. Visits to the Princes’ Islands and a boat tour of the Bosphorus are also something you should put into your calendar.
Here are the culture and entertainment options you can look into while you are in Istanbul:
– Archeological Sights
– Palaces and Castles
– Art Galleries
– Restaurants in Istanbul
– Istanbul Nightlife – bars and clubs
– Istanbul Parks and Amusement Centers
– Istanbul Sports Centers