Whether it was called Byzantium, Constantinople or Istanbul, the city where east meets west has always had a powerful draw toward adventurous travelers. Before heading off to Nemrut Daği National Park or to the ancient cities of Ephesus and Pergamum, make sure to immerse yourself in Istanbul, "city of the world's desire."
Istanbul is well-connected with both domestic and international cities. Most flights from the U.S. and Europe arrive at Atatürk International Airport, the city's main airport. Some Asian airlines and budget European airlines fly to the city's secondary airport, Sabiha Gökçen International Airport. If you are traveling by land, there are two bus stations in Istanbul and two international rail stations.
It can get quite cold in the city during the winter, and the months of July and August send the mercury rising. Travel during the spring or fall to take advantage of the most pleasant weather.
Istanbul is a city steeped in history, and it's thought to have been founded around 1000 B.C. Check out the Istanbul Archaeology Museum while in the city to learn more about its Roman, Byzantine, Latin, Ottoman and Turkish periods.
There are enough sights in Istanbul to keep a traveler busy for months on end. Some of the must-see places are the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Galata Dervish House, Turkish and Islamic Art Museum and Basilica Cistern. Make sure to take a boat ride on the Bosphorus and haggle over Turkish handicrafts in the Grand Bazaar.
To get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to Büyük Çamlica Off to gaze on Istanbul's minarets from this hilltop park. Büyük Göksu Deresi picnic area or Princes' Islands also make a good outdoor retreat.
Article Written By Heather Carreiro
Heather Carreiro is a certified English teacher who has been writing since 2008. The editor of Matador Abroad, her work has appeared online at BootsnAll, Matador Network, GoNOMAD, Journey Beyond Travel and Expat Women. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is pursuing a Master of Arts in English at Bridgewater State University.