Istanbul is one of those cities everyone should visit before they die. For thousands of years this city on the Bosphorus has been a capital of government, religion, art, literature, and culture.
It’s a vast megalopolis that spans two continents, both geographically and culturally. In the morning you can sip coffee in chic Velvet Cafe in European Galata then take a ferry in the afternoon, to Kadıköy on the Asian side of the city and stroll through Sali Pazari, a bustling market where locals go to shop for everything from ceramics to fresh tomatoes.
One of the most unforgettable experiences you can have in Istanbul is to attend a football match in Istanbul at either one of Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe, or Galatasaray — the fans of these three “giants” of Istanbul are legendary for the noise and chaos they generate. My favorite place to spend an afternoon in Istanbul is to walk down the steep, uneven street in Çukurcuma browsing antique stores, and to pay a visit to The Museum of Innocence, inspired by the Istanbul writer Orhan Pamuk’s novel.
The history alone makes Istanbul worth spending a week in. Hagia Sophia will take your breath away, and you might have a chuckle at the signature from a Viking mercenary who left his mark on a banister inside the mosque over a thousand years ago. The cavernous underground cistern is a marvel of engineering and exquisite design. Topkapı Palace rivals the Louvre for its sheer vastness and rich hoard of treasures.
While you can find nonstop flights from New York to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, it’s cheaper if you take budget carriers. Here’s a sample fare for the end of January.
Jan 26 to Feb 6 from New York JFK to Istanbul SAW on Norwegian and Pegasus for $477. To get the best price on this flight and support this site, book your flight on DoHop.
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