FOR a city break that transports you to another time as well as another place, it has to be Istanbul. As the centre of two ancient empires, the Ottoman and Byzantine, it is rich in awe-inspiring historical sites.
For the adventurous traveller, it's an exotic, otherworldly place packed with delights: wander the labyrinth of bazaars, relax in a traditional hamam, and experience a 'hookah' water-pipe café. But don't expect a city stuck in the past. Modern day Istanbul is also home to chic cocktail bars, skyscrapers and a forward-looking cultural scene led by its younger generation.
Top Five Things to Do in Istanbul
The Sultanahmet Blue Mosque
Gaze at the cascading domes and six minarets of this magnificent place of worship. Decorated in turquoise mosaics, and dominating the skyline of Istanbul, it's known as one of the most beautiful mosques in the world.
Head to Sultanahmet Square to find the ancient site of the Hippodrome of Constantinople where chariots once raced in front of cheering crowds. Nowadays, the race track is indicated with paving and the surviving monuments are set within a landscaped garden.
Marvel at the grandeur of this Ottoman palace with its courtyards, gardens, and sacred relics including Moses' staff and Muhammad's sword. Spend a full day there if you can, taking in the Harem, the views over the Bosphorus, and the glittering riches of the Imperial Treasury.
Discover why this domed basilica is often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Once a church, and then a mosque, it's now a well-presented museum. Its towering domes, minarets, frescoes and mosaics are one of the city's most impressive sights.
Brave the enthusiastic traders at this sprawling covered market spread across 58 streets. Jewellery, carpets, ceramics, and coloured lanterns are just some of the goods to be haggled over. Bargaining is obligatory – ask for prices at three or four different stalls before you buy.
Flights from Manchester to Istanbul
Fly with Jet2.com from Manchester to Istanbul from £61.99 one way including taxes. Route starts 16 March 2012 with flights up to twice a week. Approximate flight time is four hours ten minutes.
Jet2holidays city break packages to Istanbul start from £369 per person.
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