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Istanbul see + do

For visitors to Istanbul, the question is not what one should see in the city, but what one can afford to skip until the next visit. Those on a one- or two-day itinerary should plan for immediate immersion in the historical district, from the majestic palaces and mosques of Sultanahmet to the exotic Oriental alleys of the Grand Bazaar, squeezing in an hour-long hammam treatment to unwind.

Culture fiends who want to go slightly off the beaten path usually head to the quieter Süleymaniye Mosque, the farther-flung Kariye Museum, or the superb Dolmabahçe Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus near Beşiktaş.

For those with a little more time on their hands, İstiklal Caddesi—the main pedestrian drag through Beyoğlu—and its surrounding neighborhoods of Galata, Tünel, and Çukurcuma are ideal for day and night-time wanderings, while art buffs shouldn't miss the neo-industrial structures of the Istanbul Modern and Santral Istanbul, as well as the state-of-the art architecture at the Kanyon Shopping Center.

If Istanbul's bustle and the traffic become too much to bear, take to the water: The serene car-free Princes' Islands are only a short boat trip across the Sea of Marmara, and you really can't top chartering your own private yacht for a Champagne sunset sail up the Bosphorus.

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Eyüp and the Café Pierre Loti, Eyüp

The mosque complex at Eyüp might be a bit of a trek from the center of town, but it's well worth the journey for many reasons, not least that it is one of...more

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Dolmabahçe Palace, Beşiktaş

Often overlooked by visitors, this is one of Istanbul's most lavish and extravagant attractions, the last home of the late and declining Ottoman Sultanate,...more

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The Bosphorus and Its Villages, Istanbul

The former fishing villages that line both sides of the Bosphorus are inherently different in their nature from the rest of the city that has now encompassed...more

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Art in Istanbul, Istanbul

As a European Capital of Culture in 2010, Istanbul saw a lot of money poured into its arts institutions and private and commercial arts ventures have burgeoned...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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