Istanbul is a treasure trove of exciting and exotic opportunities for visitors. All year long, you can experience the wonderful Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Spice Market, as well as the stores and shops that dot the city. The incredible views and architecture are available for your enjoyment no matter what time of year, so there is always something to marvel at during your travels. To get the very most from your journey, though, you may want to check out some of the interesting events and festivals that take place during the year. Here are some highlights to consider:
The winter months may be cold, but Istanbul will warm your heart with spectacular dance performances and concerts by the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra and IstanbulState Symphony Orchestra. Sports fans will love the soccer (football) games played at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium throughout the January, February, and March.
April brings welcome warm air and a beginning to the tourist season. Visitors can experience the International Istanbul Film Festival. Watch intriguing Turkish movies with English subtitles – a fantastic way to see this culture. You can also get outdoors with the beautiful Tulip Festival or the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day parades. May brings more concerts, soccer games, and Youth and Sports Day, a public holiday commemorating the beginning of the War of Independence. Celebrate Istanbul culture with the International Istanbul Music Festival in June. Listen to world-class classical music, opera, and watch beautiful ballet performances. A treat for any visitor.
Do not miss the International Jazz Festival in July. This festival is followed later in the month by the Folklore and Music Festival, which features incredible folk dance groups, singers, and craftsman. In August, you can participate in Victory Day celebrations, and often, this is when the Muslim holy month of fasting, Ramadan, begins.
September brings the International Istanbul Biennial, at which you can see the works of artists from all over the world. The end of Ramadan is also marked with a three day celebration called Seker Bayram. In October and November, there are a host of great events, such as the Istanbul Art and Book Fairs and the Filmekimi Film Festival. The year closes with more wonderful orchestra and dance performances at Istanbul’s premier theaters.
Istanbul can be very expensive, especially as it experiencing tremendous growth and is receiving millions of visitors each year. It is not impossible to spend in excess of a $1000 a day during your visit. But like any large city, there are ample opportunities for inexpensive entertainment if you know where to look. The first suggestion is to take advantage of the free views and architecture. It costs nothing to walk through neighborhoods, admiring the spectacular buildings and mosques. It is free to walk through the incomparable Grand Bazaar or the many boutique-lined streets. Remember, you are encouraged to haggle, so you can reduce the price of things you do purchase – and have a bit of fun at the same time. Even if you do not buy anything, you are sure to have a fulfilling experience.
Treat yourself to a Turkish bath, or hamam. Gorgeous buildings and interiors will allow you to steam away your cares and refresh your mind and body. If you choose the self-service option, this is an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon while seeing some of Turkey’s famed architecture from the inside. Try the Cagaloglu Hamami, named one of the 1000 Places to See Before You Die. You can also see many of the area’s houses of worship. Admissions into mosques (don’t go during worship services) and museums are generally very inexpensive, and this is an ideal way to learn about the culture and spend an afternoon. The buildings are amazing and worth the price of admission in themselves, not to mention the treasures inside. Do not miss the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, or Dolmache Palace. Another treat not to be missed is a ferry ride. For very little money, you can ride down the Bosphorus Strait and see all the incredible sights on its shores.
You can easily entertain yourself in Turkey on a small budget, though dining and accommodations may put a bigger dent in your wallet. There are many international hotel chains in the city, with rooms for several hundred dollars a night. There are others, like Best Western, that are considerably cheaper. You may also stay at hostels. You can also mitigate the cost of food by eating at one of the many delicious kebab stands or going to an authentic Turkish restaurant rather than the more expensive (and generic) hotel restaurants. Another way to save money is to book a discount travel package from a travel agent.
Istanbul is a city of immense riches, but you don’t have to be exceedingly rich yourself to take advantage of the distinct flavor and feel of this remarkable city.
Galatasaray SK Soccer Games
Throughout the winter months
Ali Sami Yen Stadium
+90.216.1500 or +90.251.5705
Istanbul State Opera and Ballet
February through May
Ataturk Kultur Merkezi, Taksim
Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra
February through May
Ataturk Kultur Merkezi, Taksim
Istanbul International Film Festival
Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts
Youth and Sports Day
Locations throughout Istanbul
International Istanbul Music Festival
June to July
Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts
International Jazz Festival
Various locations throughout the city
International Istanbul Biennial
Various sites throughout Istanbul
+90.212.334.0700, ext. 763 and 764
Filmekimi Film Festival
Beyoglu Emek Movie Theatre
International Istanbul Leather Fashion Fair
Tuyap Fair, Convention and Congress Center, Gazeteciler Mah. Saglam Fikir Sok 19
Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra
December through late April
Lutfi Kirdar Concert Hall, Borusan Center for Culture and Arts, Istiklal Caddesi Number 421
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Asker Ocagi Caddesi No. 1, Taksim, 34435 Istanbul, Turkey
Description The InterContinental Ceylan Istanbul Hotel is located in the heart of the city and offers the very best in Istanbul hotel accommodation. From the hotel's convenient location, guests can access the best of Istanbul's cultural, tourism...
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Akbiyik Cad No: 25, Istanbul, TR 34400, Turkey
The Best Western Acropol Hotel is an attractive hotel in the middle of the historical triangle of Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia and Marmara Sea. Discover the secrets of the history in the heart of old and modern Istanbul. Within walking distance of the hotel enjoy shopping...
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Kucuk Ayasofya Mah Yusuf Askin No. 28, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, TR 24400, Turkey
The Best Western Hotel Amber is an Ottoman house built in the 19th century. The interior has been restored and offers a traditional Turkish bath, sauna and billiard room. We are situated in the central district of Istanbul within a five-minute walk to St. Sophia, Topkapi...
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Kennedy Caddesi Sahil Yolu No.32, Ahirkapi, Istanbul, TR 34400, Turkey
The Best Western Citadel Hotel is situated near the old city center and all historical sites. The hotel has a wonderful view of the Marmara Sea and overlooks the Prince Islands. You may freely fish just by crossing the street. The Best Western Citadel Hotel is located...
Millet Cad 186 Topkapi, Istanbul, Turkey
The Barcelo Eresin Topkapi is an elegant and disctinctive five star premium hotel, member of the Barcelo Hotels and Resors Chain. The hotel is located European side of Istanbul, is just 10 KM from the international airport and the Exhibition Center, The Grand Bazaar... more
Ciragan Caddesi 32 Besiktas, 34349 Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul's Ultimate Luxury Hotel—The Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul The Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, once the home of Ottoman sultans, is dramatically... more
Çiragan Caddesi No. 28, Besiktas, 34349 Istanbul, Turkey
Hotel Description: The Four Seasons Istanbul is constructed within the original facade of a 100 year old prison, and has been remarkably restored with just 65 guest rooms and Suites. The building's exterior of Turkish neo-classic architecture... more
Taskisla Caddesi, Taksim, 34437 Istanbul, Turkey
The Hyatt Regency Istanbul Hotel is a five-star luxury hotel situated minutes away from Istanbul's historic and business points of interests. Staying at this Hyatt Regency in Istanbul, guests... more
Bayildim Caddesi No. 2, Macka, Befliktafl, 34357 Istanbul, Turkey
The Swissotel Istanbul is adjacent to Dolmabahce Palace, the last residence of the Ottoman Sultans and surrounded by 65 acres of parkland. The hotel is unique with its variety of dining and catering options offering an extensive variety of cuisines. A vast majority of... more
Suzer Plaza, Askerocagi Caddesi No. 15, Sisli, 34367 Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is the only city in the world to sit astride two continents, and was the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Now a vibrant metropolis, it has centuries of history as a bridge between Europe and Asia and as a crossroads of civilizations.... more
Tesvikiye Caddesi 41-41A, Nisantasi, 34367 Istanbul, Turkey
Hotel Introduction A new generation of luxury accommodations, downtown Istanbul, in the fashionable area Nisantasi-Istanbul's shopping and gourmet district where you have most prestigious international labels and the city's best restaurants, bars and... more
CUMHURIYET STREET 80600 HARBIYE ISTANBUL TURKEY Istanbul Turkey
The Istanbul Hilton Is Centrally Located Near The Taksim Square. It Is Situated In Beautiful Gardens Overlooking The Bosphorus And Is Within Walking Distance Of Business / Shopping And Entertainment Areas - The Hilton Convention And Exhibition Centre Is Adjacent... more
Bayildim Caddesi 12, Istanbul, Turkey
We are pleased to announce the reopening of Hilton ParkSA after a full renovation period. The New Hilton ParkSA offers a full range of state-of-the-art amenities and facilities to suit the changing needs of our guests. Hilton ParkSA has a spectacular view of the Bosphorus... more
Kamerhatun Mah, Mesrutiyet Cad. No:34, 34435 Beyoglu / Istanbul
Close to Taksim Square and with great spa facilities, the Miapera is a boutique hotel that impresses with its mix of historical exterior and luxury, ultra-stylish interior design. more
Buyukdere Caddesi 4.Levent Istanbul 34330 Turkey
Hotel Introduction Recently opened stylish 5-star boutique business hotel with 249 spacious rooms, superb restaurants and meeting facilities for up to 600 guests. Located in the centre of uptown in 4 Levent, the prime business district, next... more
Ciftegelinler Caddesi No 3, Kumkapi, Istanbul, 34126, Turkey
The Best Western Amber Hotel is set near the sea side, in the oldest and most colorful district of Istanbul, which is still a functioning fishing village. It is in walking distance from the Sultanahmet Square with Istanbul's most famous Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Top... more
Hocapasa Mah. Hudavenigar Cad. 17/19, Sirkeci, Istanbul, TR 34110, Turkey
The Best Western Empire Palace opened in April 2004 and is located in the heart of the historic, old city part of Istanbul.It is established with the latest luxury decorations inside and offers high quality service. The guest can meet more than their expectations in... more
Topcu Caddesi No: 34, Taksim, Istanbul, TR 34437, Turkey
Experience traditional Turkish hospitality while in the center of Istanbul, at the Best Western Eresin Taxim Hotel. You will be within walking distance of all Istanbul has to offer, including the Lutfu Kirdar Congress and Exhibition Center, Concert Hall, Art Gallery and... more
Mimar Mehmetaga Cad. No. 17/19, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, 34400, Turkey
The Best Western Hotel Obelisk & Sumengen is a 19th century Ottoman house which has been converted into a luxury hotel. Situated on a quiet side within walking distance to St. Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Toptapi Palace, Blue Mosque and offering a breathtaking view of Marmara... more
Akbiyik Cad. No 38, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, 34122, Turkey
Welcome to Best Western Premier Regency Suites Hotel-Spa! A boutique hotel located 200 meters away from Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque. Overlooking the Bosphorus and St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia) from the Terrace Restaurant and most of the rooms. All rooms are one bedroom suit... more
Gencturk Caddesi - Sirvanizade Sokak 7, Sehzadebasi, Istanbul, TR 34470, Turkey
The Best Western Senator Hotel is situated in the heart of the old city within walking distance to major attractions like St. Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, the Islamic Arts Museum, Topkapi Palace, Archeological Museum and Grand Bazaar. The Best Western Senator Hotel... more
Tashan Cad. No-57, Bakirkoy, Istanbul, TR 34142, Turkey
The Best Western Tashan Business & Airport Hotel is ideally located 9 kilometers from Atat¸rk International Airport and 10 kilometers from the center of Old City (St. Sophia, Grand Bazaar and several museums) with easy access to main highway, train stations and sea bus.... more
Tiyatro Cad 25 Beyazit, Istanbul, TR 34126, Turkey
The Best Western The President Hotel is located in the center of old city Istanbul, a veritable shopper's paradise. We are within walking distance of the Grand Bazaar and many other historical sites such as, St. Sophia, Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome. Breakfast is served... more
Millet Cad. No:187 Topkapi Istanbul 34280 TURKEY
Introduction Istanbul is the city where Asia meets Europe, with cultural heritage and natural beauty. Holiday Inn Istanbul City located next to the impressing historical city walls of Istanbul reflects the spirit of this very special city.... more
Description Holiday Inn Istanbul Hotel is nestled on the magnificent oceanfront, amidst the tranquillity of the modern tourist... more
lamartin Cad. No. 45, Taksim
The Lion Hotel is located in Taksim, which offers business, fun and a cultural center.Taste the unique dishes of Turkish and international cuisine at our Galaxy Restaurant. Relax at the swimming pool and enjoy the sun on our terrace. At the end of an exciting... more
Yerebatan Caddesi, No. 47, Sultanahmet
Hotel Pamphylia is one of the oldest buildings in the area and architectually remarkabe. We are located right in the old city and within walking distance to all attractions. Rooms are decorated according to Ottoman style to meet guest's tastes and comfort. Our restaurant,... more
Akbiyik Cad. Terbiyik Sok. No. 12
The Hotel Poem...at the very center of the old Sultanahmet: modern comfort and convenience surrounded by vivid reminders of the Byzantine and Ottoman past. An Ottoman style boutique hotel, the Poem was designed in the style of traditional Ottoman urban residences and... more