With a foot in Asia and another in Europe, Istanbul is one of a kind
Time Out Dubai staff
Stay... Budget Galata Life hotel: Galata Life is a tiny boutique hotel in one of the oldest parts of town, with only five guest rooms. The decor in each is inspired by a different Istanbul landmark. The hotel also has a gorgeous terrace to take in views of the famous Galata Tower. www.galatalifeistanbul.com Luxury Ciragan Palace, Kempinski: Ten minutes out of town on the shores of the Bosphorus sits this grand palace, where Sultans used to hunt. Think refined opulence and stunning views. www.kempinski.com
Eat... Budget Tarihi Karakoy Balik Lokantası: The Golden Horn is full of tiny fish restaurants close to the daily market, but try this one as it’s dirt-cheap and serves up the most fantastic, fresh seafood. It’s only open at lunch however, but it’s a must. Head for the Karakoy Fish Market.
Expensive Asitane: Although it’s located out in Edirnekapi, Asitane is worth the trip as it conjures up Ottoman specialties using centuries-old recipes. It has a lovely terrace too, so make the most of the weather. Kariye Camii Sokak No: 6 34240 Edirnekapi.
Must see... The Blue Mosque is what people imagine when they think of Istanbul. It was built in the 1600s and stands proud over the city. Once you’ve checked out the cavernous inside, grab kebabs from the traditional food stalls on the plaza, home also to ancient Roman columns.
Must do... Get lost. Seriously, the best way to see Istanbul is head to an area and start wandering. Over the water from the mosque sits Galata, a medieval area of twisty, narrow streets hiding cool bars and restaurants. Use the cheap tram system to get about, traffic gridlocks the city constantly.
Exchange rate* Dhs1 = 0.50 TRY (Turkish Lira) * Approx exchange rate Time Out recommends Head to a rooftop bar in Sultanahmet to watch the sun go down behind the Blue Mosque. It’s hard to imagine a more picture perfect setting.