This city in Turkey, which serves as a gateway between Asia and Europe, has more than enough sites to keep you enthralled through the day and into the bustling nightlife. See the stunning Blue Mosque; cruise the gorgeous shoreline, shop the Grand Bazaar, and then, before you jump into a cafe for dinner, rejuvenate in a luxurious Turkish bath.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Entry requirements: Passport and visa (get yours at Evisa.gov.tr)
Currency: Turkish lira
Flight time: Approximately 9 hours from New York City; 15 hours from LA
When to Go: Istanbul at its best
Best weather: The best times to visit are during the fall and spring between September and October and April and June, when the temperatures are mild and daily highs are between 61 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.
What to Do
Tour the Sultanahmet Mosque: Also called the Blue Mosque, this amazing piece of architecture and religious firmament attracts thousands of visitors each year. Lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, stained-glass windows and even chandeliers clad with ostrich eggs, it’s a must-see monument.
Cruise along the Bosphorus: Spend a day aboard a boat tour of the Bosphorus, the strait that splits Istanbul. Along the city’s shoreline you’ll see castles, colorful Ottoman villas and small fishing boats, and many tours include lunch on the shore. Check out ToursIstanbul.com for tour schedules and rates.
Shop the Grand Bazaar: Bargain with a shopkeeper in one of the largest covered markets in the world to buy a gorgeous Turkish rug for a unique, attractive keepsake. Turkish rugs aren’t the only commodities in the bazaar, of course — you’ll also find the market inundated with jewelry and leather.
Jet to Antalya: Hop a flight to spend a few nights in Antalya, Turkey, a popular vacation spot for locals. This large town situated atop steep cliffs on the Mediterranean is known for its picturesque landscape, warm, sunny weather and lively nightlife.