Istanbul is a fascinating city that is full of wonderful, contrasting cultures. It straddles the Bosphorus Strait, which separates Asia and Europe, and gives Turkey’s biggest city a truly special feel. You can start the day with a continental breakfast on the European side, pop over to Asia for a spot of lunch, then head back to Europe for a night out.

Great draws

A great place to start is with a cruise on the Bosphorus. You can spend anything from a couple of hours to all day enjoying the views of Istanbul from the water and exploring parts of the coastline. Set your feet back on dry land and head to the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul’s iconic market. You could easily spend a whole day browsing the endless array of shops and stalls as you search for that special reminder of your trip.

Fabulous food

After you’ve scoured the Grand Bazaar you’ll probably need to refuel. Try some of the food stalls at the market or dip into Istanbul’s fabulous dining scene that has a myriad of influences. From fine dining at the top of upmarket hotels to the catch of the day at eateries with views of the Bosphorus and delicious street food, Istanbul has it all. If you’re thirsty you can even sip on a cool beer at a brewery with a view of the strait.

Wonderful history

Istanbul was founded thousands of years ago at an important strategic point, which means the city’s packed with rich history. The Topkapi Palace is one of the most famous landmarks, while Hagia Sophia started life as a church back in the 6th century. The Basilica Cistern was built around the same time, and is another intriguing place to visit as you venture deep underground. Whatever you do, don’t forget to take your camera.