Destination Spotlight: Istanbul

Istanbul is the only city in the world that straddles two continents: Asia and Europe. This is one of the greatest cities in the world where you can see a modern western city combined with a traditional eastern city, it's a melting pot of many civilizations and different people.

There are several reasons why visitors return repeatedly: the setting is exceptional, right on the Sea of Marmara and astride the busy Bosporus Strait. And Istanbul’s skyline is a stunning mélange of domes, minarets, medieval towers, and office buildings looming over low-rise residential structures.

Touring Istanbul's ornate houses of worship and palaces could keep history buffs and culture hounds busy for weeks. Most attractions are clustered in the Sultanahmet area, though areas like Beyoglu and Taksim are no less exciting. The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia are essential, but simply exploring the street traffic and observing daily life here are equally fascinating. Food is a central part of the culture, so menus should be studied just as seriously as a map (which is also a must). You should certainly pick up some souvenirs at the many bazaars around town. And if you have time, stop by a Turkish hamam (bath) for a soak and a massage.

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