Once the home of two of the world’s most powerful empires (the Byzantine and Roman) Istanbul today is exciting, exhilarating, seductive, rich in history and a shopper’s paradise. It is unique because it is the only city in the world to straddle two continents – Europe and Asia.

It’s no wonder, then, that many top international travel writers have labelled it “the hippest city in the world”. It’s also a friendly, safe and very accessible city – and many of its top attractions are within walking distance of one another.

In just one day, you could stroll round the magnificent 6th-century Byzantine cathedral, the Aya Sofya (which was once the world’s biggest enclosed space); marvel at the 20 000-plus beautiful tiles of the Blue Mosque; behold the treasures of the Topkapi Palace. Enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city from the 66m-high medieval Galata Tower, or take a scenic cruise on the Bosphurus, before relaxing with a Turkish coffee, some mouthwatering street food, or a glass of raki.

You’ll be drawn irresistibly to the Grand Bazaar, where you’ll barter for everything from jewellery, carpets and hookahs to belly-dancing outfits and handmade shirts, before heading off to the Spice Market for scented teas, herbs and spices, dried fruit and Turkish delight.

And don’t forget to buy a ubiquitous “evil eye” (a blown glass token with a blue “eye” inside) to keep you safe at all times. It’s just a little keepsake … and will continue to remind you of this amazing city

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