Taste the culture: whether you visit incredible religious buildings like the Aya Sofya or the Blue Mosque, or fascinating galleries like the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, don’t miss the chance to see the city’s amazing art and architecture.
Have a Turkish bath: head to one of the city’s traditional hamams, or bath houses, for a spot of pampering. Then relax in one of the tea gardens around the Beyazit district.
Have a Middle Eastern feast: savour traditional Middle Eastern flavours at Naif, where big sharing platters of dishes like tabbouleh are the name of the game, or tuck into street food like kebabs from restaurants around Istiklal Street.
Take in the history:there are ancient wonders around every corner in Istanbul, but a trip to the 15th-century Topkapi Palace, followed by a stroll around the imposing Theodosian walls is an absolute must.
Go to the Grand Bazaar: from Turkish delight and special teas to rugs and precious gems, this vast market is a shopper’s delight. Even if you’re not buying, it’s a great place to soak up some local colour.
Go underground: beneath the city streets, you’ll find the atmospheric Basilica Cistern, part of a complicated network of rooms built in the 6th century to store water.
Spice things up: worth a trip for the ambience as much as the products, the Spice Bazaar is where Turkish traders have been coming for centuries to sell bags of colourful ingredients, dried fruits and even caviar.
Get into a whirl: head to the Sultanahmet district to watch whirling dervish dancers in flowing robes perform to traditional Sufi music played on ancient instruments.
Sail away: head out on a chilled cruise across the Bosphorus Strait to discover the Üsküdar district, where you’ll find the impressive Maiden’s Tower.
The Princes’ Islands, a short ferry ride from Istanbul,make a great escape from the city with their beaches, restaurants and sights such as the Agia Triada Monastery.
Edirne, around two-and-a-half hours from Istanbul, has a wealth of grand mosques, colonial architecture and fascinating museums to explore.
One of the coolest places to hang out in Istanbul is Karaköy. Fashionable cafés, a French-style shopping arcade and trendy little boutiques and galleries can be found here. It’s also home to the Jewish Museum and the Galata Tower, where you can get a fantastic view of the city.