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If you are thinking of flying to Istanbul you certainly aren’t alone. Visitors have been arriving here since time immemorial. This magical meeting place, where east and west commingle, has seen the Greeks, Romans, Venetians and Ottomans leave their mark.
Walking through the city is very much like traversing history and the unique allure of Istanbul is in many ways testament to its ability to accommodate and mix civilisations and cultures. As the final stage of the legendary Silk Road the city has seen many traders arrive, like what they see and decide to stay. The diversity of Istanbul is just one of the treasures a cheap flight can reveal to you today.
The most popular time to visit is between April to the start of November. Visitors peak between July and August. Flights to Istanbul will be at their most expensive during this time – you can still bag a bargain if you book early enough but they are pretty thin on the ground.
Istanbul’s winter is very wet and it can be very cold. Flights may be cheap but snow may also cover the ground, and your brolly could be in constant demand.
The months of September and October see tourist numbers gradually trail off, yet the weather remains favourable. This means cheaper flights are not so tough to come by. Another good time to consider booking is March or early April. During this time the Tulip Festival and International Istanbul Film Festival offer plenty of extra attractions in a city that is already crammed with them.
Airlines offering flights to Tenerife include:
The busiest of Istanbul’s two airports is Istanbul Atatürk Airport, located on the European side of Turkey, 14 miles from the centre. The second airport, Sabiha Gokcen, is newer, located on the Asian side, and sits 19 miles from the centre.
Reaching the centre of Istanbul is straightforward from either airport. Ataturk has a metro station, which provides an efficient and cheap way to get into the city’s heart.
Both airports offer airport taxis and shuttle bus services – but you are advised to avoid the trams as they tend to be very busy which, with luggage in tow, can make travelling uncomfortable.
It takes about 55 minutes in a taxi to get from Sabiha Gocken to central Istanbul and 30 minutes from Ataturk.
The most efficient and cheap way to get around is to avail yourself of the excellent network of metro lines, trams, funiculars and ferries.
Istanbul’s roads can be very busy and all of these help you avoid the inevitable city snarl ups that occur.
If you purchase an İstanbulkart you will save nearly 50% on the standard ticket price every time you travel.
Of course, you want to take in the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar and Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Here are some things that you may not know about, but that really make a trip to Istanbul come alive.
Head underground to discover Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern. Underneath the city this cistern was built in the 6th century while the city was still known as Constantinople. The atmospheric lighting and the scary Medusa statues help to make this a trip into ancient history that will stay with you for a long time.
For fantastic views Camlica Hill is hard to beat. This is the place to chill out if you are not in a café drinking apple tea and smoking a shisha pipe. From this hill there are perfect views over the Bosphorus.
An authentic hammam experience is invigorating, if a little intimidating. Forget the experiences offered at your swanky hotel and opt for a more authentic experience at one of the many traditional Istanbul steam rooms. Most are separated by gender. You’ll pass through several different rooms of different temperatures and the brave can opt to pay an attendant for a rough and ready scrub-down. To truly exfoliate those pores, try Cemberlitai Hamami or Cagaloglu in the Old Town.