Home to 17 million people, Istanbul is one of the largest cities in the world. A geographic and literal melding of East and West, Istanbul is the only city in the world to be spread across 2 continents. Separated by the Bosphorus Strait, Europe lies on the west bank and Asia on the east.
A true juxtaposition of culture and history, ancient Roman ruins sit alongside grand mosques, while nightclubs and lavish retail outlets operate comfortably along with the call to prayer. Well known for its traditional rugs and carpets, along with handmade ceramics and artisan crafts, Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar is one of the best places to shop.
The cruise port is relatively large and can accommodate several ships at the same time. It is conveniently located; many cultural sites and tourist attractions are within walking distance and the city tram service can be easily accessed from the terminal.
There are several cafes directly outside the passenger terminal. These establishments are generally catered towards younger people who wish to indulge in the local tradition of smoking hookah pipes. If you prefer a more Western feel, the Museum of Modern Art has a cafe and bar, and is located a short stroll away.
- Public telephones
- Cafe and tobacconist
- Tourist information
- Ground transfer service
- Souvenir and duty free shops.
How To Get Around
From the passenger terminal in Karakoy, trams run across the Galata Bridge to many of the main attractions including the Saltanahmet District, the Spice Bazaar, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. The Galata Bridge is a 10-minute walk away and it allows pedestrian access for those who prefer to see the sights on foot.
Taxis in Istanbul are plentiful and metered; be wary if the driver refuses to operate the meter. Credit cards are generally not accepted so have cash on hand to pay your fare.
Istanbul is a very large city but many of the sights are concentrated in a small area. It is possible to walk (up a famously steep hill) to the Beyoglu; the city’s main shopping district. The Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are all within walking distance of each other for those who enjoy the exercise.
- Currency - the currency in Istanbul is the Turkish Lira (TRY). Coin denominations include: 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kurus and 1 lira. Note denominations include: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 lira.
- Time Zone - Istanbul uses Eastern European Time (EET), which is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+2). Eastern European Summer Time (EEST) is 3 hours ahead (UTC+3).
- Weather - Istanbul has a humid sub-tropical climate with no discernable dry season. Temperatures range from an average of 30 degrees Celsius in July and August to 8 degrees Celsius in January and February.
- The Blue Mosque - the most famous of all Istanbul's mosques is The Blue Mosque, or Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Built in the 17th century and featuring a magnificent dome, this Turkish icon is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Imperial Pavilion, which is part of the mosque, is home to a fascinating carpet museum with exhibits dating back to the 16th century.
- The Grand Bazaar - dating back to the 15th century, Istanbul's Grand Bazaar is one of the city’s top tourists attractions. Home to more than 4,000 stalls that are spread across 60 streets, this bustling hub is the place to buy everything from traditional spices and furs, to leather and handmade rugs.
- The Hagia Sophia - one of the world's finest examples of Byzantine architecture, the Hagia Sophia is a jewel of Istanbul. Originally a church, then converted to a mosque, today it is a museum. Open every day except Mondays, the museum is made up of 2 major parts: the church and the gallery of mosaics.
- Topkapi Palace - originally a royal summer residence, the Topkapi Palace dates back to the pre-Christian Byzantium era. Highlights include opulent displays of jewellery, religious artefacts, traditional silk ceremonial robes and an ancient collection of manuscripts.