Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul is Turkey’s most populous city as well as being its cultural and financial center. Located on a narrow straight between the Black and Marmara Seas, Istanbul’s unique location bridges Asia and Europe. The intersection of cultures is evident in Turkey-from everything from language to style of dress to architecture shows the blending of European and Asian traditions. Dramatic pyres of mosques grace the skyline of this dynamic and culturally rich city.
With a long history of being at the center of powerful empires, Istanbul offers a wealth og important religious and historic sites. Visitors can will almost feel like they’ve stepped back into the times of the Ottoman Empire when they visit Sultanahmet Old City-where you can find the famous Blue Mosque, Glata Tower and many waterside palaces that where once occupied by the movers and shakers of the largest empire in the world.
With 12 million inhabitants, Istanbul is a huge city, making narrowing down where to stay can be rather difficult. The Harbiye area on the European side is the main center of the European side of Turkey and has a variety of international standard hotels and apartments, budget hotels and mid-range accommodation options. Here you can find international chain hotels like the Hilton Istanbul or the Park Hyatt Istanbul.
If you want to stay in the older part of the city closer to the main Istanbul attractions, you are probably best off opting for the Sultanahmet neighborhood, where you will also find a variety of hotels at a variety of prices. The Hotel Inter Istanbul and the Empress Zoe Hotels offer great rooms at affordable prices. The Empress Zoe Hotel also features a rooftop sitting area with stunning views of the major sites of this area of the city.