Uniquely positioned straddling the Bosphorous Strait which divides the continents of Europe and Asia, Istanbul is Europe's largest city with a population north of 15 million people and Turkey's economic, cultural and historic hub. It also happens to be one of my favourite cities in the world! Together with two of my colleagues (who had not been to Turkey previously), we were able to take advantage of Turkish Airlines new non-stop service from Vancouver to Istanbul at the end of May, 2022. At 11 hours outbound and 12 hours flying time on the return, you'll have plenty of time to explore the offerings on the very stylish A350-900 that Turkish Airlines currently uses on the route. An extensive on board entertainment centre kept me well occupied in my cosy business class seat.
Our first two nights were spent in the historic centre of Istanbul - the Sultanahmet (in the Fatih District) where you'll find many of the 'must see' sites in Istanbul: the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, Underground Cisterns, the Hippodrome and the world famous Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. We were absolutely charmed by the lovely Hotel Celine, a completely renovated historic mansion which is steps away from the iconic sites in the Fatih District and very reasonably priced.
Gorgeous breakfast area at the Hotel Celine
After two nights in the Sultanahmet area, we headed across the Golden Horn and over the Galata Bridge to the "new" city of Beyoglu to the north. After a stop to explore the area around the Galata Tower and Istiklal Avenue we checked in to Raffles Istanbul at the Zorlu Centre, our home for the last two nights of our whirlwind visit. To say this hotel is breathtaking would be an understatement! The staff are top notch, the Rocca Brassiere and Isokyo restaurants superb and the rooms and views are spectacular.
Booking Raffles Istanbul with your North South Travel advisor means that you will benefit from Virtuoso amenities including: room upgrade if available, daily breakfast for two and a $100 USD room credit per stay.
Istanbul is just the beginning of what Turkey has to offer. Historic sites dot the country, beautiful beaches beckon in the south, delicious cuisine and warm, welcoming people await you wherever you go. Reach out to your North South advisor and make a plan to explore this fascinating city and the many areas beyond Istanbul.
Views around Istanbul: the Grand Bazaar entrance, the Hagia Sofia and Underground Cisterns:
The Galata Tower and the views from the top:
And no visit to Istanbul would be complete without making friends with one of the many stray cats: