Istanbul Holidays

Flights + Hotel

Istanbul: a city of legend

Istanbul holidays are your gateway to a legendary Turkish city filled with centuries of history. Here, ancient culture blends seamlessly with the modern world to provide truly special experiences. 

Head to the 17th-century Sultan Ahmed Mosque – also known as the Blue Mosque – a stunning piece of architecture with deep spiritual significance. 

Adventurous travellers can climb the seven hills within the city walls for panoramic views and breathtaking sunsets.

Venture out on a Bosphorus sightseeing tour, where you'll cruise along the famous waterway and gaze at both European and Asian land. Stop off at the Ortakay neighbourhood for guided tours around the ornate Kucuksu Palace and imposing Rumelian Castle.

Add a sense of mystery by heading underground to the sixth-century Basilica Cistern. 

Explore Istanbul holiday ideas with Etihad today.

Things to do in Istanbul

From luxurious coastal hideaways to sightseeing tours around Istanbul’s many famous and historic landmarks, this exciting holiday destination is a joy for every visitor. 

Discover the Hagia Sophia 

The Hagia Sophia is one of the city’s biggest and most famous museums, attracting millions of visitors every year.

It began life as a Greek Orthodox cathedral in the sixth century, before converting into a mosque in 1453. 

After closing for renovation in 1931, it reopened as a museum four years later. Step inside and discover a fusion of eastern and western architecture.

Christian iconography sits alongside stunning examples of Islamic art in a place that will linger long in the memory.

Where to stay in Istanbul

Experience Istanbul's past

Immerse yourself in Istanbul’s history and stay in Sultanahmet. Within easy walking distance of the city’s most famous attractions, this district is perfect for family holidays in Istanbul.

Get a museum pass to access loads of great sights on your doorstep. Highlights include the Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia.

Finish your sightseeing days out with a picnic in the glorious Gulhane Park.  

Top picks 

Istanbul has many top-quality hotels, with the Burgu Arjaan offering a perfect base. Located in the Maltepe neighbourhood, it has an indoor and outdoor pool, steam room and sauna facilities.

The Centro WestSide, in the up-and-coming Gunseli district, has a large indoor pool with impressive city views.

Other attractive accommodation options include the Tango Arjaan and WestSide Arjaan hotels.

Retreat to an island

For a romantic break in Istanbul, consider beautiful Buyukada. The largest of the Princes’ Islands is a stunning hideaway and just a short ferry ride from Istanbul.

Enjoy mornings packed with sightseeing in the big city then retreat to the island for an afternoon of sunbathing. There are also ample opportunities for memorable evening meals in restaurants overlooking the sea. 

All you need to know about Istanbul

Local currency

The local currency in Istanbul is the Turkish lira (TRY). Many major hotel chains and restaurants also accept euros. ATMs are widely available.

Getting around

Metro services operate every five minutes from 6am to midnight. Istanbul also has a reliable bus system. You can catch a ferry across the Bosphorus. 

Languages spoken 

Turkish is the main language spoken in Istanbul. Visitors will find that English is also widely used, particularly in the city’s tourist areas.

Public holidays

Key dates to look out for in the Turkish calendar include Labour and Solidarity Day (1 May), Victory Day (30 August) and Republic Day (29 October).

More about Istanbul

History of Istanbul

East meets west in this splendid city, formerly known as Constantinople. It was a key location on the lucrative Silk Road, making it a strategic point of interest for hundreds of years. Istanbul has also seen the rise and fall of some of the world’s most famous empires. 

First colonised by the Greeks in the seventh century, it then became the capital of the Byzantium Empire. The Ottoman Empire was based here in the 15th century and the legacy of this period remains evident today in the stunning architecture that dominates the skyline. 

Turkish cuisine

Turkish cuisine is rich, diverse and varies across the country. Luckily, you can sample it all in Istanbul’s cafes and restaurants. Try pide, a filled flatbread originating from Samsun on the coast of the Black Sea that contains lightly spiced lamb, onions and black pepper. 

Look out for kayseri mantisi, a dumpling-based dish from the Anatolian region which includes lamb or chicken and is topped with fresh garlic yoghurt. Enjoy fine fish dishes with the catch of the day from the Aegean coast, such as levrek – a grilled sea bass lightly drizzled with olive oil.

Why we love Istanbul

“Istanbul has an atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else. The blend of cultures makes this place truly special. Explore the Grand Bazaar markets and treat yourself to some authentic Turkish street food or head out on a Bosphorus boat trip.”

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