Formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, Turkey’s capital, Istanbul is strategically located on both European and Asian continents on opposing shores of the Bosphorus Strait. This atmospheric city is splendid, magnificent and grand in equal measure boasting numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, and was the European Capital of Culture in 2010.
Successively known by numerous names including most famously Byzantium, Constantinople and Stamboul, Istanbul is a vibrant and historic city providing an enchantingly exotic blend of Eastern and Western cultures and is the only city in the world straddling two continents. With influences from both sides; the modernity of a city teamed with elegant ancient architecture makes a city break to Istanbul is truly captivating. Delightfully situated on a hilly terrain with the busy Bosphorus Strait cutting through Europe to the west and Asia to the east, this fascinating city leaves any visitor with truly unforgettable memories and a will to return.
At Classic Collection Holidays we offer a range of handpicked luxury hotels in Istanbul chosen for their unique qualities to assure quality during your stay.
Old & Modern Istanbul
The old city of Istanbul is crammed with interesting sights including many UNESCO World Heritage sites. Set on a small peninsula, the historic Sultanahmet area houses the former Christian church, then mosque, now museum, of Sancta Sophia with its outstanding freestanding dome and the Blue Mosque, built in the 17th century by Sultan Ahmet I, famed for its splendid blue Iznik tiles and marvellous stained glass windows. Additional mosques, minarets, museums and sumptuous palaces are just waiting to be discovered, not least Topkapi Palace with its famous harem, and the extensive Ottoman residence of Dolmabahce Palace.
The modern part of the city including the Pera area with its imitation palazzo is popular with European residents, and the vibrantly cosmopolitan Taksim Square, in the heart of the modern city, boasts excellent restaurants, bars and cafés. To experience both the old and the contemporary, a short break Istanbul is ideal.
Bazaars & Shopping
City visits are not complete without a spot of shopping and a city break to Istanbul, or for an even longer stay, allows you to fully indulge in the extravagant shopping malls and enchanting bazaars. Designer labels abound in Nistantasi district’s exclusive boutiques, and there’s a myriad of wonderful shopping malls including the largest in Europe, Cevahir Mall, and haggling for traditional mementoes is frantic but fun in the bazaars and the atmospheric Sunday market in Ortakoy. The unique Grand Bazaar offers an energetic experience: it’s a self-contained community with cafés, banks even its own mosque, and its warren of streets and alleyways with 4,000 shops sells everything, from souvenir trinkets and backgammon sets, to fantastic gold and silver jewellery and eclectic antiques. The Spice, or Egyptian, Bazaar is vibrant with stalls of dried fruit, nuts and spices: you can even commission custom-made perfume!
A city break to Istanbul is often fast paced and a great way to experience the mosques and palaces, the Grand Bazaar and authentic Turkish cuisine. However, many combine a whistle-stop tour of this city with some relaxation. Simply fly from Istanbul to Bodrum, Dalaman or Antalya to enjoy the beaches, indulgent spas, or plethora of land and water based sports. You could even combine a city break or beach holiday with time on a traditional gulet.