ISTANBUL

DESTINATIONS / EUROPE / TURKEY / ISTANBUL

 FACTS /  Though Istanbul isn’t Turkey’s capital – that honor goes to Ankara– it is the country’s largest and most populated city. With about 14 million permanent inhabitants and a constant influx of visitors, it positively pulsates with life and activity. It’s also got lots to offer tourists, both in terms of historical sights and hedonism, traditional attractions and cutting-edge current culture. Divide your time between the European and Asian sides. In Europe, you’ll find the iconic mosques and landmarks such as Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia as well as the bustling Taksim Square and the gallery and cafe-filled streets of Karaköy. A quick boat journey across the Bosphorus and you’ll be in Asia, where you can sip coffee in the cafes of Kadıköy and check out the faded grandeur of the old Haydarpaşa Terminal.

 

STAY /  Sometimes in a city as big and sprawling as Istanbul, you want a smaller, more personable base to call home for your stay. For this purpose, the 39-room Corinne Hotel fits the bill perfectly. While most visitors stay in the touristy Sultanahmet, which comes to a standstill come nightfall, this hotel is in the middle of bohemian Beyoğlu, which has round-the-clock appeal. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the major shopping street of İstiklâl Caddesi and from the chic bars and restaurants of Pera. Its 100-year old neoclassical Ottoman style façade hides an elegant interior that effortlessly blends contemporary and historic touches, while a rooftop terrace looks across to the minarets of Sultanahmet across the water.

 

EXPERIENCE /  Bosphorus cruises top most Istanbul agendas, and their popularity is for good reason. A trip down the Bosphorus Straits is a unique experience, as you straddle the line between Asia and Europe and float under vast intercontinental bridges. Go at sunset when the fiery orange glow casts the minaret silhouettes into high relief and the echoing call to prayer creates an evocative soundtrack. Most cruisers hop to action with their cameras, but it’s difficult to do the scene justice, so we recommend sitting back and just enjoying the moment.

SEE /  All too often, visitors to Istanbul get mired in the past and wrapped up in the ancient attractions, like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern. Pity that, because Istanbul’s contemporary art and design offerings are equally compelling. Opened in a converted waterside warehouse in 2004, the Istanbul Modern was a forerunner in the city’s art scene and its permanent exhibitions provide an overview of modern Turkish art. The exhibits are top-notch, but the view over the Bosphorus from its restaurant and terrace is a scene-stealer.

 

SHOP /  Shopping and bargaining are time-honored rituals in Istanbul. While the high street retail outlets have succumbed to the modern practice of fixed prices, the vendors of the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar are still open to a spot of haggling. In the Spice Market, intoxicating smells permeate the air and stalls are piled with loose teas and colorful spices, as well as coffees, candies and Turkish delight. The Grand Bazaar is the place to go for incredibly beautiful and intricately woven textiles. Bargaining here often happens over a cup of tea and a few minutes of chat, so when the vendor invites you to sit down; accept. It’s a great way to experience Istanbul’s authentically warm culture.

 

BRIC'S Capri