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Explore Istanbul

Welcome to Istanbul 👋 – a truly iconic global gem. Spanning two continents, two seas, ancient empires and a rich fusion of both European and Asian cultures, food and traditions, there is no shortage of sights in Istanbul. If you’re planning to explore the city in the days around the final, get your planning hat on as the city offers so much, certainly more than we can fit on this page!

Know before you go! 💡

Here are some useful bits to keep in mind before your trip to Istanbul:

1) The currency in Türkiye is the Turkish lira. Although card payments are widely accepted in the city, cash payments could be used at market stands and food vendors, or to load your public transport card, the Istanbulkart. 🚇

2) Get your itinerary ready in advance! Istanbul is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, so the main attractions are always busy. List the things you don’t want to miss and get your tickets booked well in advance. 📝

3) Shopping centres are usually open between 9:00 or 10:00 and 22:00, while supermarkets usually open earlier and close later. 🛒

4) WiFi internet access is widely available in the city and free of charge. All you need to do is register once with your mobile number on the ‘IBB Wi-Fi network’. 🌐

5) If you want to stay connected at all times, consider buying a pre-paid SIM card from one of the Turkish providers available within in the city. 📱

💡 Top must-dos in Istanbul

Istanbul is a perfect balance – a city that is both contemporary and ancient, traditional, and conservative, yet buzzing with nightlife. It is THE ultimate place for foodies and adventurers, history fanatics and night owls. Check out the top sights we recommend when planning your trip:

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📚 History

1) Grand Bazaar

Get ready to shop, bargain and experience one of the world’s oldest covered markets. There are a staggering 61 covered streets with over 4,000 shops so leave plenty of time to weave in and out of the shops and see the thrill of a traditional bazaar while picking up some local treats and authentic souvenirs.🛍️

2) Hagia Sophia

Once a church, the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque is a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, and it is only once you see it up close that you really can take in its religious significance throughout history coupled with its stunning beauty. It has withstood the test of time and has been reconstructed in the same place three times.

3) Topkapi Palace 

A museum and a palace in one, it is a gorgeous glimpse into the colourful and lavish interior of one of the world’s largest and oldest remaining palaces (built in 1465). The museum showcases artifacts across centuries of Sultans who resided there and it’s a wonderful display of Türkiye’s rich, historic culture.🏰

4) Blue Mosque 

Also known as the Sultanahmet Mosque, the name ‘Blue Mosque’ comes from the blue tiles used to decorate its interior. To witness it in person is nothing short of magical. It was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I to rival the Hagia Sophia, although it has several architectural differences it its foundation of pillars and domes.

5) Basilica Cistern

Experience the underground constructions in Istanbul and explore this ancient cistern and the spectacular ambience among its grand marble columns. Fun fact: it was originally designed to store over 80,000 cubic metres of water for the Byzantine Empire.

🏙️ City life

1) Galata neighbourhood

If you’re after some spectacular views, check out the 14th century Galata tower with gorgeous views of the Bosporus and the Old City. The neighbourhood is officially called Karaköy and you’ll also find the modern Galata Bridge, picturesque views and charming streets and stairways.

2) Ortaköy neighbourhood

This area is now one of the most stunning waterfront neighbourhoods in the city, but used to be a charming, romantic fishing village. It is located at the foot of the first Bosphorus Bridge and you can always find a lively mix of small art galleries, beautiful coffee spots and restaurants, and historic monuments including the neo-baroque Ortaköy Mosque.

🥳 A night out

1) Bomonti district

This is a top spot for the late-night wanderers and foodies. You can find some of the city’s best restaurants and bars here including authentic Turkish dinners, live music, outdoor festivals, craft beers and cultural events.

2) Bosphorus cruise

See the city lights and the bridges lit up with a sunset or dinner cruise and a traditional Turkish show along the Bosphorus. Exploring the city by water is ideal for getting those sunset views and gorgeous pics for social media! 🌅🤳

Don't miss out ❗

The city of Istanbul will be buzzing with all things football so check back closer to the match for all the details and exact locations.⚽

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🥘 Food and drink

Be sure to taste these traditional Turkish delicacies while in Istanbul and finish off with a classic Turkish coffee!

1) Meze – An assortment of hot and cold dishes, typically eaten as starters, of pickled veggies, marinated meats and fish, beans, and grains. It’ll vary slightly depending on the restaurant, but the meze is an experience in itself and a symbol of Mediterranean cuisine.

2) Menemen – A typical Turkish breakfast dish, this includes eggs, green peppers, tomatoes and spices sauteed in a pan.

3) Baklava – THE quintessential dessert of Turkish cuisine, this sweet treat is a perfect combination of rich buttery goodness and can be served with a variety of nut-based fillings.

4) Kofte & kebabs – Türkiye’s staple meatballs or grilled meat made of lamb or beef, they can be cooked with fresh herbs like mint or parsley or with onions and spices.

Istanbul has foods to suit everyone’s taste and the abundance of incredible places to eat in the city certainly does not disappoint whether you’re after traditional street food, fine dining or a relaxed restaurant vibe. Have fun exploring and Afiyet Olsun! (Enjoy your meal!) 🍽️

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Top tip 🍲

Check out the Istanbul Gastrocity guide for all the top-rated restaurants to try.

🏨 Accommodation Guide

With an abundance of sights to enjoy and so many possibilities for where to stay, there is a neighbourhood to suit every taste. As the stadium is outside the city centre, we recommend getting accommodation in or close to central Istanbul so that you can explore easily.

There are plenty of options to meet every budget with everything from hostels to hotels, rental apartments, and luxury offerings to experience all that you want before or after the final. To help you make a choice, we have broken it down into a mini neighbourhood guide for you here:

📍 Beşiktaş

Located along the Bosphorus, here you can find some of Istanbul’s most glamorous hotels with stunning views across the water. Beşiktaş itself offers a lively, youthful vibe with lots of casual bars and restaurants. It’s bustling at all hours of the day and is also a popular transit hub.

📍 Sultanahmet

If you want to stay just a stone’s throw away from the historic centre of the city and many of the top sights, then this is the spot for you. This district is a convenient base to walk through the Old City and has a variety of accommodation options, from simple hostels to rooms in restored mansions with rooftop views.

📍 Beyoğlu

Only a short tram ride away from Sultanahmet, this district is ideal if you want to stay in the heart of the contemporary arts and culture scene. You’ll find major cultural institutions, museums and restored European-style 19th and 20th century apartments. Enjoy fine contemporary restaurants and lively local taverns in the area. Many of the large hotels are around Taksim Square, but you can also find smaller hotels with their own unique charm in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

📍 Kadıköy

Located on the Asian side of Istanbul, this district has gained popularity in recent years with vibrant neighbourhoods, coffee shops, cool boutiques, restaurants, cocktail bars, pubs, and live music venues. If you’re a sunset chaser and enjoy a long walk alongside the water to catch those good views, then you can’t go wrong with getting accommodation here. There are several hotel options near the water, and you can easily take the ferry and hop across to the European side.

📍 Nişantaşı and Teşvikiye

If you’re looking to spend a few days immersed in luxury and do some shopping, these districts just north of Taksim Square are flanked by designer shops and high-end department stores adorned with scenic leafy streets, elegant cafes, and restaurants. Nearby you’ll also find Macka Park, one of the biggest green spaces in the city centre and a popular spot for a stroll or a jog.

📍 Fener and Balat

These adjacent neighbourhoods along the Golden Horn are a perfect pick if you love antiques and getting those Instagram pics 😉. Spot the traces of history among the cobbled streets, colourful old homes and wooden houses, intertwined with European-Turkish bistros and small churches. There are many antique stores and a thriving café culture. This area has limited accommodation options but with the new tram along the water, it’s easy to find somewhere to stay nearby.

📍 Kurtuluş and Bomonti

These neighbourhoods are fantastic options to experience the most authentic Turkish markets and local life. In Kurtuluş you can experience traditional bakeries, homestyle restaurants and shops in a truly local atmosphere. Bomondi is situated around the Bomontiada entertainment complex, which boasts a growing nightlife and dining scene and some higher-end hotels as well.

ℹ️ Tourist info

With the abundance of things to see and do in the city, be sure to read Istanbul’s official tourism page for regular updates and ideas to plan your trip.

🚨 Local emergency services
Sometimes unforeseen accidents happen. We want you to stay safe in Istanbul so if you are involved in an emergency of any kind, immediately contact the numbers below:

Police: 155
Fire: 110
Ambulance: 112

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