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See the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace on a cultural experience you won't want to miss

When to visit

Due to its natural climate, Istanbul can tend to be hot and sticky, especially on the coast. Crowds are at their largest between late June and early September, but there are also numerous events and activities during this period. If you prefer cooler temperatures, plan a trip in either spring or autumn. However, each season in Istanbul has its own special quality and so, simply plan to visit whenever most captivates you.

Where to visit

In an older section of Istanbul, one can see Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque as well as one of the marvels of the world Byzantine church, Ayasofiya all in reasonable distance from each other. The many mosques, temples and churches offer options of both east and west for the visitor for whom history and heritage are intriguing. Seek out Saint Jesus the Saviour Church or Zeyrek Mosque, out of several options.

Located slightly inland from the Black Sea is Kackar Daglai, a beautifully carved mountain range. Widely accepted for its value as a location suitable for trekking tours, it has tranquil lakes scattered across its terrain. Make this a stop for some tranquil reflection.  While many sites are steeped in religious heritage, there are many secular sights as well, such as palaces and other architecturally appealing mansions, and the ancient cisterns – which aid in the preservation of the current water system in the country.

What to eat

Exotic best describes the food in Istanbul. From the sweet to the savoury, from meat to fish, the menu selections everywhere are truly delectable.  Kebabs of every conceivable kind are to be found at most food stops in Istanbul. Find a way to sample a steam tray dish, of which meat options include meatballs stewed with vegetables and many different kinds of chicken stew.  Try the Baklava, a pastry-based dessert, of which there are a great variety. Top of the list is the Antep Fistikli Sarmasi or pistachio-filled baklava.  And how could you visit Turkey without savouring a Turkish Delight? This treat is world-renowned and must be on your to-do list.

What to do

Have fun and do the unusual while in Istanbul, and experience Turkey’s culture at its very best. There is the famous Grand bazaar, where one can barter for and purchase everything from raw produce, cloth and material, souvenirs, fruit and vegetables and cooked food.

Plan to take a hot air ballon trip over Cappadocia, and view the sites from above, floating free and safely for the short trip. Prefer to be on land? Plan a bus tour through the ins and outs of this exotic city.