Istanbul is the perfect spot for a long weekend break or to begin a tour of all the highlights of Turkey. It’s the only city in the world to sit across 2 continents, and the result is magical. You can enjoy breakfast in Europe and lunch in Asia, then back again for the evening. 

The two sides are separated by the Sea of Marmara, with most of the popular sights, history and activity being centred on the European side in the Sultanahmet area. You could easily never leave Sultanahmet as it’s packed full of shopping, the key historic sights such as the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya, plus numerous restaurants and bars so you can get a feel for the glorious past as well as the exciting present in just this small area. 

You should take the chance to explore further though, if time allows. Head to the Bazaar district to get lost in the famous Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, and to Beyoglu to look back at Sultanahmet from a rooftop bar. A ferry trip up the Bosphorous is essential too, and we can help you avoid the tourist traps here. 

Email one of our dedicated specialists to create your fully personalised holiday in Istanbul, tailored completely to you – or browse our sample itineraries and favourite hotels, below.

Thrace Wine Region

Follow the Sea of Marmara west of Istanbul and you reach the Galliopoli Peninsula, which is rich in war history, the archaeological ruins of Troy and the stunning Thrace wine region.

Turkey has an abundance of wine-bearing vines and an ancient history of wine production, but the modern Turkish wine industry is quite young and not as well known as other European producers – yet. There is a real mix of traditional and modern methods, original and imported varieties of grape, and hugely differing climates across the country, making Turkish wine tasting varied and interesting.

You can easily add on a night or two in Thrace after a weekend in Istanbul.