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Istanbul, Turkey: the world’s only city that spans two continents

A Turkish crossroads between Asia and Europe, Istanbul’s bewitching spirit of contradiction lies most strikingly in its juxtaposition of modern and traditional. Women with their heads covered hurry past girls in jeans and make-up; sleek foreign cars pull up alongside donkey carts; and fancy steel and glass hotels share the skyline with ancient minarets.

Family vacation

If it moves, you’re likely to find it at the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, a magnificent 19th century warehouse now dedicated to all things industrial. Kids love that they can climb right into the exhibits, like vintage cars, a submarine, and a real plane’s cockpit.

The Caferağa Medresesi, a 16th century school, now holds lessons on Turkish handicrafts and musical instruments. Kids and adults alike can take workshops on the reed flute, calligraphy, ribbon embroidery or Ebru, the traditional Turkish art of painting on water.

Couples

Take a romantic stroll through the ritzy Bebek neighbourhood, stopping at Bebek Kahve, a charming little coffee shop by the water’s edge. Be sure to try sahlep, a warm, milky drink made from orchids that’s said to be an aphrodisiac.

Take in a 360º panoramic view of the city after a candlelit dinner for two at the top of the Galata Tower. Built in 1348, it was the departure point for Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi’s 1638 flight to the Asian side of the Bosphorus—history’s first intercontinental air trip.

Travelling with friends

Everyone in your group will love the Spice Bazaar. A bustling culinary hub of scents and colours since 1664, it’s the best place to find dried fruit, nuts, spices, Turkish delight and essential oils.

For a glimpse of hip and happening Turkey after all the historic monuments, check out the Istanbul Modern. Housed in a former warehouse, it features the country’s contemporary artists.

Transat Holidays has something for every preference and budget. Visit the Tours and Excursions section to see what’s available in Istanbul.

Trips to Istanbul: Good To Know

To ensure a successful trip to Istanbul, read this useful information about travelling to Turkey.