The Cheapest Way To Get To Istanbul from the UK
With one side facing Asia and the other peering towards Europe, Istanbul has - for centuries - proven to be a pivotal hub for transport and trade. Within easy reach of Asia, Africa and Europe, the city's connections are unlimited; a giant octopus of a place with arms reaching across continents, countries and cities. As such, it is incredibly easy to get to.
The Best Way To Get Around Istanbul
Home to a dizzyingly large population - 16 million in total - Istanbul is vast. With two sides: its 'European' side and an 'Asian' side (separated by the Bosphorus Strait), you'll need to do a little planning before you set off for a wander. However, getting around during your three days in Istanbul - particularly if you shuttle between the old city and some of its newer parts - is relatively easy, thanks to the city's beloved tram, metro and ferry system.
The metro is a quick and easy way to get around the city; particularly if you're on the European side. Although it can get a bit crowded, it's regular and cheap. We stayed in Karakoy whilst we were in the city and it was therefore incredibly easy to hop between the historic part of Istanbul and its more recent parts. The metro runs from 6am - 12 or 1am. A really handy annotated metro map - including its key stations - can be found here.
Istanbul's Ferries ('Vapur')
Divided by the glittering Bosphorous Strait, Istanbul is a city wedded to the water. As such, ferries are a convenient and reliable way to get around. In particular, and for a bit of novelty during your three days in Istanbul, crossing from the European side to the Asian side of the city (and back again), is a lovely experience and also a way to avoid the traffic-riddled bridge. For a centrally located ferry station, head to Karakoy.
Istanbul's history is as long as it is complicated. Beginning life in the 7th century as Byzantium, before falling under the power of the Romans in 193 AD, Istanbul would next transform into Constantinople - the vision of Constantine the Great. Following this came a dizzying number of rules and conquerers, including Arabs and Ottoman Turks. It was under the Turks that the city's name - Istanbul - came to be; a name that would stay with the city even after Turkish independence in 1923. Despite the fact that Turkey's capital was later moved to Ankara (where it remains), Istanbul is still Turkey's largest - and most populated - city. A papier mâchè of layers, history and cultures, there is an almost impossible amount to see and do in this historical meeting place.
Browse the Street Art Be warned: the back streets of Karakoy are addictive; lined with busy restaurants and winding vines that grow overhead. Throughout this area there is plenty of prominent street art to see, including a mural made from used spray can bottles. In particular, head towards Murakip Sk. to see some great pieces.
Explore a Rainbow of Umbrellas Just around the corner from 'Fil' lies the regularly 'instagrammed' Umbrella Street (Hacı Tahsin Street). Whilst the name perhaps speaks for itself, this permanent installation is a regularly photographed part of Istanbul and worth a visit if you're nearby.
Just a short walk from the station is the awe-inspiring Hagia Sophia; one of Istanbul's most famous structures. Originally built as a Christian basilica nearly 1,500 years ago, it was Emperor Constantius who first ordered the creation of the original Hagia Sophia in 360 AD. However, following two fires (due to its wooden roof), the original building was rebuilt under the orders of Emperor Justinian I in 532. Completed in 537, it is this structure that still stands today.Now a museum, visitors are able to explore both the ground and first floor of the building; its enormous space filled with dappled rays of sunshine and twinkling chandeliers. It's an incredibly atmospheric and humbling spectacle, and one you should not miss during your three days in Istanbul.