48 Hours: Two days in Istanbul

Istanbul has magnificent cuisine, gorgeous architecture, beautiful Bosphorus Straits seascapes, and markets and bazaars filled with treasures of all kinds. Constantly on the move and thrillingly hip, it’s one of the most exciting metropolis in the world, as the Turkish tourism team proudly explains. Wings of Oman takes a two-day journey through the city…

Day One!

Kickstart the morning with a traditional kahvalti breakfast – a delicious combination of cheese, pastries, olives, eggs, fresh tomato and cucumber, cured meats and honey. Washed down with a cup of Turkish tea, it’ll give you all the morning energy you need to explore three of the city’s most significant sites – the fascinating subterranean Basilica Cistern, the Hagia Sophia museum, and the exquisite Sultan Ahmed Mosque. (They’re all in the same area). 

For lunch, you’d do well to try one of two Turkish classics: Turkish Kofte meatballs served with salad and tomato sauce; or the famous Donar Kebab – grilled meat cooked served inside a flatbread with salad and yogurt. Or, you could try Balik Ekmek – a sandwich containing grilled fish, onions, and salad. 

After lunch, you can set off to explore the wonders of Topkapi Palace, which was the residence of the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years.

And, when you’re done, you can head to one of the many nearby cafés with magnificent views over the Bosphorus Straits. Instead of Topkapi Palace, if you’re more of the shopping type, head to Serdar-I Ekrem Street, which is one of Istanbul's trendiest and most charming streets, known for its bespoke brand boutiques; or Abdi Ipekci Street, which is home to dozens of design shops and fashion stores, as well as elegant historical buildings, chic cafes and restaurants.

Then, as Istanbul becomes illuminated with lights and energy in the evening, you can head to Taksim Square – one of the city’s favourite evening hangouts with many late night eateries, restaurants and live music venues.

Day Two!

To start the day, try one of Istanbul’s fantastic Menemen egg omelettes – featuring roasted onions, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs. Combined with a traditional Turkish tea, it is a delicious start to the day. 

Any visit to Istanbul would not be complete without a cruise down the Bosphorus Strait – the meeting point between East and West; Asia and Europe. It’s the perfect way, from the comfort of a cruise boat, to get a glimpse of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks – and to soak up plenty of Istanbul energy. 

After your cruise, if you’re feeling snackish, a traditional savory lunch can be replaced with a helping of Istanbul’s famous sweet and crispy Baklava pastries, served with strong black Turkish coffee. Or, some Lokum Turkish delights – the cube shaped confections flavoured with flower or fruit essence, and powdered with sugar.

Following this, it’s time to head for some treasure hunting at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Built in the 15th century, the Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest marketplaces of its kind in the world. There are around 4,000 shopfronts and stores here, selling all kinds of Turkish and Arabian treasures.

Afterwards, just before the sun goes down, head to Çamlıca Hill, the elevated point in the Üsküdar district of Istanbul, 268 m above sea level, with panoramic views of the southern part of the Bosphorus and the mouth of Golden Horn waterway. And finally in the evening, after two long days, you can retire to one of the many luxury hotels located around the city… 

Istanbul hospitality: Three of the finest… 

Lazzoni Hotel (www.lazzonihotel.com)

Lazzoni Hotel, with its seafront location on the Golden Horn waterway, features rooms that were styled by the award-winning Lazzoni Furniture Company design teams. They do excellent cuisine at their Nostoni Restaurant and Jin Terrace; and they’ll offer you plenty of pampering at their Onni Hamam & Spa. For something different, you can take a cruise along the Istanbul waterways on their gorgeous wooden boat, the “Vaporetto”. The hotel won “Turkey's Leading Lifestyle Hotel” at the 2018 World Travel Awards.

Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus (www.conradhotels3.hilton.com/Istanbul)

Located in Istanbul's lively Besiktas district, Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus is close to luxury malls, eateries, landmarks, galleries and nightlife – and a few minutes’ walk from the Bosphorus Strait itself. The hotel was voted “Turkey’s Leading Hotel”, “Turkey’s Leading Conference Hotel” and “Europe's Leading City Hotel” at the 2018 World Travel Awards. It has everything needed for a luxurious stay: Indoor/outdoor pools, a tennis club, health club with Turkish hammam, Mediterranean cuisine at Manzara restaurant, and fabulous cocktails and awe-inspiring views at the Summit Bar.

Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul (www.kempinski.com/en/istanbul/ciragan-palace)

Çırağan Palace Kempinski offers a resort ambience in the city and reflects the grand luxury of a genuine Ottoman Palace. It has all the amenities you’d expect from an establishment of this stature – plus the honour of having won the “Europe's Leading Hotel” title at the 2018 World Travel Awards. The highlight is the hotel’s outdoor infinity pool, which gives you the feeling of floating on the Bosphorus Strait itself.

Fly Oman Air!

Oman Air flies direct to Istanbul/Turkey. To view the full flight schedules, visit www.omanair.com

Online Info!

Travelling to Istanbul? Visit www.goturkeytourism.com to find out more on what to see and experience.

Images: © Shutterstock