Istanbul

Straddling two continents, Istanbul offers an intoxicating blend of east and west. Civilisations have left their mark and can be seen today in the city's fascinating pot-pourri of architectural styles.

Insider Tip

Sunrise at the Blue Mosque is a mystical experience. If you can make it, it's definitely the place to be to feel the true atmosphere of Istanbul's old town.

Dine out along the shores of the Marmara or the Bosphorus and enjoy seafood, kebabs and sweet delicacies, or visit a 'gazino' for a dinner and cabaret show. The network of side streets around Istiklal Caddesi are home to hundreds of great value and authentic Turkish restaurants and bars.

For shopaholics the Grand Bazaar, the largest and most attractive covered bazaar in the world, houses a maze of streets containing 4,000 shops and stalls. Leather goods, rugs, carpets and silver jewellery are all good buys and you must join the locals as haggling is expected. For a more European feel, try the Taksim district of the city, a long pedestrian shopping street leading to Taksim Square where you will be surrounded by restaurants and bars. Alternatively you can enjoy the colour and aromas of the Egyptian Spice Bazaar.