Want to visit one of Europe’s most exciting cities? Then come to Istanbul, where you’ll find a unique blend of history and modernity at the crossroads of eastern and western culture.
The Ottoman Empire spanned much of the Middle East, Europe and Africa, and the Ottoman capital, Istanbul, was famous for being the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Today, Istanbul still is home to a growing number of foreigners.
It is a tourist mecca, where there are endless choices for sightseeing, shopping, eating and drinking, and entertainment. Istanbul’s many attractions can be found all over the city, such as the Princes Islands, Taksim or the many little places long the Bosphorus on the Asian side. But by far the one that attracts the most visitors is the old city, Sultanahmet. This area is home to many of Istanbul’s most significant sights including the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Aya Sofia, the Byzantine Hippodrome and the Istanbul Archeological Museum.

Mosques, Churches and Synagogues

Being the centre of the Islamic world for centuries, Istanbul is home to some of the world’s most spectacular mosques, including the Blue Mosque, Sulimaniye Mosque, and the Eminönü Mosque in Sultanahmet. However there are many smaller but equally beautiful mosques in various locations around the city such as Ortakoy and Uskudar.
The most famous church in the city, St. Antoine Cathedral, is located on Istiklal Street in Taksim, but there is also the Virgin Mary Assyrian Church, and, of course the famous Hagia Sofia, which now operates as a museum. The most famous synagogue is Neve Shalom in Karakoy.


It’s impossible to avoid shopping in Istanbul. From Ottoman trinkets and antiques to textiles, jewellery and carpets, you’re sure to find everything you need. Although modern shopping centres such as Cevahir and Trump Towers in Mecidiyekoy dominate the shopping scene, the wonderful Grande Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar in Eminonu are places you must visit.


Istanbul has too many museums to mention, but the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, the Calligraphy Museum, Yerebatan Cistern and Istanbul Modern are the most important.


A visit to Istanbul isn’t complete without a visit to Topkapi Palace, where you can travel back in time to Istanbul’s Ottoman heritage. Dolmabahce Palace is from a different era and features a more European design.

Eating, Drinking and Dancing

The Turkish love affair with food means that you’ll always find something to eat, any time of the day. Turkish cuisine is popular around the world and ranges from cheap lunchtime snacks to meals fit for a sultan. And there are plenty of options for vegetarians. Alcohol and bars are readily available from raucous taverns with live gypsy music to the famous Bosphorus nightclubs with their spectacular views.


Business English Academy is located in Harbiye, Taksim, literally the centre of Istanbul, and is one of the busiest neighbourhoods in the city. Taksim is both a residential and a business neighbourhood with a huge range of restaurants, cafes, banks and hospitals. Just about every service you need can be found here.
Being a major transport hub means that there are Metro, Metro bus and city bus links to all parts of the Istanbul.

Getting Here and Around

Istanbul has two main Airports. Ataturk is located in Bakirkoy on the European side of the city and Sabiha Gokcen is located on the Asian side. Both have flights arriving and departing from them on a daily basis from most major European and Middle Eastern cities.
Although they are both located quite far from the city centres, there are plenty of transport options for you to choose from. The airport bus service called the Havas (or Havatas from Sabiha Gokcen) is inexpensive and comfortable and they depart regularly to Taksim. Expect to pay around 8-10 Turkish Lira for this. Traffic in Istanbul can be very congested especially around peak hour, so this journey could take some time.
If you just want to travel around the city, the best way is to catch the ferry to go from one continent to the other or to take advantage of the city’s new Metro system, including the Marmaray, which crosses the Bosphorus underwater. There are also plenty of public buses and the ubiquitous little yellow minibuses (dolmus). Public transport is relatively cheap in Istanbul if you have a transport card, if not, it can add up. Taxis are plentiful and also very reasonable but be sure to keep your eye on the metre.
Lonely Planet Turkey has the best advice on what to do while you are here. Click on this link to find out more:


Visa Information

The Turkish Government introduced a new E-Visa system in 2013 and this had made obtaining a visa much easier (i.e. no waiting in long queues like in the good old days).
Now, a visa can be obtained simply by visiting

and going through the application procedure online. Simply complete the online application, print it out, show it to airport officials and customs officers and carry it with them at all times during the travel.

Share Button