Saturday, 29 April 2017

When to go

Istanbul’s location on the Bosphorus Strait, and the constant breeze resulting from it, makes its climate throughout the year quite mild in comparison to other Balkan destinations. The weather from March until October is pleasant for outdoor walks, but a visit when the city is covered in snow has its charms too, bringing to life the writings of one of Turkey’s most prominent authors, Orhan Pamuk.

How to get there


BOOK A FLIGHT

By Air


Istanbul’s main international airport, Atatürk , is also the biggest airport in the Balkans. It is located on the European side of the city, 15 kilometres southwest of its centre. Although the Sabiha Gökçen International Airport on the Asian side of the city also has international traffic, most international flights come through Atatürk. Most major airlines fly to Istanbul, linking it to capital and other large cities in the region, Western Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. For that reason, the airport serves not only passengers traveling to and from Istanbul but as a major hub between Asia and Europe.


By Rail


The Sirkeci Railway Terminal, on the European side of the city, serves all the lines to the Balkans and the rest of Europe.  Istanbul used to be the end point of the legendary Orient Express route, which started from Paris, but its route has been changed many times and it no longer runs directly between the two cities. The daily Bosphorus Express links the city to Bucharest, with connections to Sofia, Belgrade, Zagreb, Budapest and Chişinău stemming from it. The Haydarpaşa Terminal on the Asian side serves lines running daily to Ankara and other destinations in Eastern Turkey.


By Road


Turkey’s road infrastructure is relatively well-developed and the two Bosphorus bridges make the route from Europe even easier. The three main roads from Europe to Istanbul are the E-80, passing through Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Southwestern Europe, the E90 and the Trans-European Motorway. A very convenient and relatively quick way to reach other domestic destinations from Istanbul, especially the coastal towns and resorts, is by bus. International and domestic buses are very regular and cheap. They leave from the Uluslararasi Istanbul Otogari, which is around 10 kilometres from the city centre.


Where to stay


Accommodation in Istanbul is abundant, with a variety to suit all kinds of tastes and wallets. The city’s most touristy area, Sultanahmet, hosts most of the pansyons, or hostels, offering easy access to the sites, cheap beds and a tasty breakfast, though conditions vary greatly. Istanbul’s business centre, Taksim, boasts more expensive hotels but the area gives a more authentic taste of Istanbul and easy access to the city’s cultural life and entertainment. Staying along the Bosphorus is quieter and more relaxing. The Asian side offers cheaper options while the European one is quite expensive.


Hotels Three Stars

Hotel Tashkonak

A family-run boutique hotel in Sultanahmet, the old part of Istanbul. Situated in a restored and refurbished 19th century Ottoman House, it offers 32 guest rooms, each with air conditioning, TV, direct telephone line for international calls and a wireless broadband Internet connection (Wi-Fi).

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Where to eat


Istanbul offers a real culinary feast. Similarly to the accommodation, the Sultanahmet area caters mostly to foreigners, while the restaurants in the Taksim area offer more authentic options.

BALKAN CUISINE


From Börek to Kadin-Göbek

Aubergines are in their element here. They are everywhere – dark, shiny and elegant, lined up next to one another as if ready for a feast. It is a little known fact that this noble vegetable is actually


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Try the eateries along Nevizade Sokak, with their outside tables, where you can sample mezes, kebabs and fish. The area around the pedestrian Istiklal street, which starts from Taksim, boosts plenty of superb restaurants, some of them – just chairs and tables around the cooking stalls in the passages. In the Bosphoros area, eating in the modern and more traditional restaurants comes at a higher price, but it is accompanied by nice views. There are also many options for eating on the street, like the seafood sold from the boats in Kadıköy, Karaköy and Eminönü.