Istanbul to put it simply is an amazing city, it is the biggest city in Turkey. If you travel to Turkey regularly or would like to go whether it be for Summer holidays or city breaks, Istanbul is one place not to be missed. It is a city so it is busy and crowded as any major city is, but the crowdedness gives the city more of a buzz, which is what makes Istanbul one of the most popular cities in the world. Depending on where you would like to stay there are fabulous hotels all over Istanbul click here for the 10 best hotels in Istanbul
Istanbul gives you an insight to a different part of the country, it has more of a western feel to it. If you are used to visiting the resorts in Turkey it is quite a strange feeling sitting in Starbucks on Taksim Square to think you are in Turkey.
Istanbul has so much to see, I would personally say if you want to see a majority of what Istanbul has to offer I would book a weeks holiday although you can see so much in just a long weekend, as i did on just a three day trip to Istanbul.
My top three attractions that i would recommend were Galata Tower, Sultan Ahmet Mosque and Taksim Square.
The Galata Tower is a must see to go up and get a view of all of Istanbul, around the Galata tower there are many coffee shops, restaurants and souvenir shops. opposite the Galata tower there is a Lavazza coffee shop and on the grounds of Galata tower there is a lovely little pop shop that sells Turkish tea which you can drink sitting right at the bottom of the tower. the tower is roughly 10 lira per person to go up.
Sultan Ahmet mosque is one I highly recommend with its breath taking architecture and a look in to the culture of the Muslim religion. You can get to the mosque by tram and is free to go in and visit as long as you are appropriately dressed, there is a board outside telling you how you should be dressed for visiting the mosque, For example make sure your hair is covered by a scarf and no major body flesh is on show. It is across the Bosphorus from the galata tower located in the fatih district. Outside the mosque there is a beautiful fountain where you can have your picture taken or enjoy a nice glass of Turkish tea!
Taksim square is situated in Beyoğlu the European side of Istanbul, which you can easily get the metro to from Beyazit square where you can feed all the pigeons. Taksim square is famous for all its shops, hotels and restaurants a lot of which are branded shops you can find all over the world for example Starbucks, H&M and Burger King, click here for the 10 best restaurants in Istanbul. this street has a real New York feel to it as it always is buzzing and is for a must see in Istanbul.
Istanbul is a big place so you have to think about getting around before you go, the best way to travel around Istanbul is using the tram, the trams are all over the city and can take you direct to the main tourist attractions. when you get to the tram station purchase a Istanbulkart card for 10 lira and put 10 lira on, this should last two people roughly 1-2 days depending on how much you use it, you can use the cards for Trams, buses and the metro (underground train). Below is a Rail and Tram map.