You can reach the bustling centre of Istanbul in approximately 45 minutes with a hire car which will allow you to get the most from your time away in Turkey.
Top Attractions in Istanbul
The Basilica Cistern will make for an interesting afternoon. Constructed in the 6th Century during the Byzantine period, the Cistern laid forgotten for centuries. Now, artistically lit and brought to life by music, the Cistern offers a unique insight into the complicated system which once brought water to the city from Thrace. Look out for the upside down head of Medusa and the pretty fish that flit about the column bases.
You can’t miss the stunning Aya Sofya, which will take your breath away. This church-turned-mosque-turned museum is a Byzantine masterpiece. Whilst the sheer size of the space is likely to impress, venture upstairs for glittering mosaics. The tombs are another interesting tribute to the history of Aya Sofya.
Embrace some of the Turkish culture, sample some local Lokum (Turkish Delight), try a Hookah, and enjoy some local cuisine such as Kavun dolmasi; a melon stuffed with minced meat, rice, almonds and pistachios.
Head to the Church of St Saviour in Chora, a Byzantine spectacle definitely not to be missed. You are sure to be impressed by the well-preserved mosaics. Take some time to wander round the neighbouring ottoman houses that have been recently restored. Prettily painted in pastel colours, be sure to pack your camera to capture this lovely sight.
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Safranbolu. Set amid the hills this beautiful town is a maze of cobbled streets and a carefully preserved Ottoman townscape. Be treated to traditional Ottoman hospitality at one of the great houses that have been turned into hotels and feast on distinctive and delicious cuisine prepared using recipes that are traditional in the area.
When you’ve had your fill of Istanbul, why not visit the fantastic city of Ankara? Known as Turkey’s other city, modern Ankara has a very different vibe to the historic Istanbul. Relax in hip sidewalk cafes cultivated by the student-led social scene.