A unique character, an interesting mix of different cultures, and a powerful history are just some of the things that make Istanbul a land that is so captivating that it makes almost everyone fall in love with it. Divided into two sides by the Bosporus Strait, each with its own appealing persona, Istanbul offers experiences that are very different from other places. Ruled by four different empires over a period of 2,500 years, the city has been known as Constantinople and Byzantium through different eras of time in history. Istanbul has been the capital city for different empires, and today is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan economies in the world. Tourism is also a flourishing industry here, and the city is now the fifth most popular tourist destination in the world. An increasing number of people are seeking out the distinctive sights and attractions that this Turkish city offers to all its guests. So an Istanbul city break might just be the thing you were looking for if you wanted a refreshing and enriching vacation experience.
One of the most striking things about Istanbul is the interesting blend of the ancient and the modern; as on one hand, the rich history is evident in the culture and the lifestyle even today, while the transition to contemporary attractions such as nightclubs and shopping malls has been so fast that it hardly betrays the fact that these are set in an ancient city. But one thing is guaranteed —while on your Istanbul city break, there will never be a dull moment. Some of the most popular attractions of this city include the Hagia Sophia, a monument which has been a place of worship for three different religions over time. It has served as a Pagan temple, a church, and now a mosque– such is the nature of the landmarks in Istanbul. The Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and the famous Turkish baths are some of the other places that you should not skip during your Istanbul city break. However, this city has a lot more to it apart from these well-known attractions. If you want to go beyond the usual touristy places and activities, there are quite a few things for you to try out while on an Istanbul city break. Just a little planning beforehand can ensure that you fit in a diverse range of things to do and sights to see in your holiday itinerary, thus getting the maximum out of your trip. Here are some of our recommendations for offbeat things that you can do while on your Istanbul city break.
Check out the Basilica Cistern
With a mysterious feel to it, the Basilica Cistern, although known to many, isn’t among the usual touristy places in Istanbul– but is an experience that will almost haunt and inspire you at the same time. This structure was built in 532 C.E., and is the largest of the surviving Byzantine cisterns in the city. You can enter this ancient cavern by walking down a set of stairs, which will take you to a dimly-lit but fascinating underground cistern which still features ancient columns. Raised wooden planks are laid out for walking inside, while the water drips from the vaulted ceiling to add to the eerie atmosphere.
Explore the backstreets of Beyoglu
Another of those places which are not exactly hidden but aren’t brimming with tourists, the area of Beyoglu is a charming neighborhood to visit during an Istanbul city break. As evening falls, the streets come alive with lively bars and taverns that are filled with locals who come to listen to live music or some of the latest Turkish pop songs as they enjoy their drinks. Small cafés and restaurants add to the fun vibe on the streets, and make it the perfect place to mingle with locals over local food and drinks, and learn interesting stories about this mesmerizing Turkish city.
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