Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul is the cultural and political hub of Turkey. It's beautiful beaches and spectacular vistas make the city a popular destination for tourists and conferences alike. The city is an amalgamation of all of the cultures that have settled there, including European, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern influences.
The city is home to seven convention centres and three exhibition centres, making it an ideal choice for larger conferences and events. The Istanbul Congress Centre alone offers 115 meeting rooms and over 171,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Visitors should not miss the chance to shop in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. This lively outdoor market is the place to go for souvenirs and great deals. Be prepared to haggle! The Topkapi Palace is another incredible sight not to be missed. Once the court of the Ottoman Empire, this luxurious palace offers visitors a look back through history.
Istanbul boasts nearly 100 deluxe hotels and resorts, giving the glamourous traveller no shortage of options to choose from. Affordable accommodation is also available, so all visitors can find something that fits within their budgets. With thousands of accommodation options in the city and its surrounding areas, the choice can be a bit overwhelming. Let some of the top travel sites help you narrow down your choices with their recommendations:
Thanks to its melting pot of cultural influences, the dining scene in Turkey is varied and dynamic. Stay away from well-known food chains and sample some local fare. Some of the most popular dishes in the area include menemen, a Turkish omelette with onions, peppers and tomatoes; manti, meat-filled dumplings, often called Turkish ravioli; and baklava, a flaky pastry and nut dessert. Restaurant options in Istanbul range from inexpensive street food to gourmet restaurants, so have a look at these recommendations to help you decide:
Visitors are advised not to try to drive in Istanbul. The traffic is almost always congested, and the city's streets can be very difficult to navigate for those who do not know their way around. On top of that, parking is scarce. Local police are very strict about enforcing traffic laws, thanks to the large amount of revenue it brings in for the city. You are best to avoid driving unless you absolutely have to.
Taxis are readily available, but you must beware of dishonest drivers, particularly around popular tourist spots. It is not uncommon for a driver to accept a large bill from you and then claim that you paid with a smaller one, refusing to give you your proper change. Another common tactic is taking tourists on a circuitous route to drive up the meter fare. Your safest bet is to have your hotel call a taxi for you. This is your best chance at getting a reliable, honest driver.
Istanbul's public transit system is not the most efficient in the world, but its extensive network of buses, trams, ferries, trains, and subways can get you anywhere you need to go. However, it is common to have to use multiple modes of public transport to reach your destination. On the plus side, you can purchase a transit pass to get discounts on transfers, rather than having to pay the full fare at each stop throughout your journey.