Whether you are looking for shopping, fine dining or a scenic hike and an afternoon picnic, you will find it all in Istanbul.

Istanbul, which is located on the border of Europe and Asia, is an ancient city on the coast of the Marmara Sea, Princes’ Islands in the distance across the water. It is also where the Bosphorus Bridge connects Europe to Asia.

Istanbul is the fifth largest city in the world and the largest city in Turkey. In its long history, it has served as the capital for the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires.

In the current day, you will find ancient architecture alongside a thoroughly modern city with two international airports, expressways, a suburban railway, trams, funicular railways (subways), light rail and the modern Istanbul Metro that was constructed beginning in 1992. With all of these options, seeing the sights should not be a problem.

There is a bounty of things to see and do in this beautiful city. A wonderful way to start your morning is to visit Fransiz Sokagi (French Street) and enjoy breakfast and a rich Turkish coffee at one of the many cafes. After breakfast, wander through the art centres or stop to enjoy the stylings of one of the many street musicians. The area was completely updated recently, opening in 2004 in Beyoglu district and includes a variety of cultural offerings. The influence of Parisian artisans is evident in the 100 year old French coal-gas street lamps and streets that were designed and constructed by Parisian architects in distinctly French style.

There are also many historic monuments and a variety of popular attractions to be found. One of the most famous and popular sights in Istanbul is Hagia Sophia, a masterpiece of architecture, its beginnings dating back to 532 A.D. Originally constructed as a Roman church, during Ottoman rule it was designated as a mosque until 1935 when the secular Republic of Turkey converted it to a museum as it remains today.

If shopping is the order of the day, be sure to visit Beyoglu Passages along Istikal Street. It is a true cornucopia of treasures ranging from clothing to culinary delights.

Lodging is plentiful as well, and hotels in Istanbul range from the modest to the extravagant so you will surely find something to suit your taste.