Perched on the intersection between East and West, Istanbul is a city swathed in mystique, a place where cultures combine in a dazzling kaleidoscope of scents, sounds and colours. With a rich history stretching back over 2,000 years, Istanbul's art and architecture have attracted visitors for centuries – but the modern aspects of the city are equally fascinating to explore, with enough opportunities for shopping, dining and nightlife to please the most discerning traveller.
Settle into a centrally-located hotel and you'll find yourself within a short jaunt of many top attractions, including the breath-taking Blue Mosque, known for its exquisite tiled interior, and the elaborate Topkapı Palace, a former home of the Ottoman sultans. Explore the many layers of Istanbul’s history at Hagia Sophia, once the world's largest Byzantine cathedral, later a mosque and now a museum filled with cultural treasures, before soaking up the atmosphere in the haunting Basilica Cistern, a well-preserved underground Roman-era water store.
Art lovers will also enjoy perusing Istanbul's outstanding assortment of galleries, from the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum to the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, while those interested in the material remains of the past can happily spend a day (or more) amongst vast collections in the three Istanbul Archaeology Museums.
Once you've had your fill of history and culture, it's time to take in the modern side of Istanbul, although even here, many attractions are steeped in ancient heritage. For instance, spend an afternoon getting lost amongst the multi-coloured, labyrinthine passageways of the Grand Bazaar browsing for crafts, souvenirs, food and knickknacks, or sit and people-watch in one of Istanbul's handsome coffee houses.
When the sun goes down, drop off your purchases at your hotel and prepare to savour Istanbul's lively nightlife. Sample authentic Turkish food from street stalls and traditional restaurants, or check out the stylish international and fusion cuisine on offer throughout the city. You'll also find an exciting array of bars, clubs and other evening entertainment, including a number of stunning rooftop cocktail bars where you can watch the sun set over the dramatic city skyline.
Sound appealing? Book your Istanbul hotel with Marriott today and get ready to experience the many faces of this ancient, fascinating city.