Arriving in Istanbul, Turkey on board a ship is an unforgettable experience. The Bosphorus, dividing Europe and Asia, welcomes passengers with ocean breezes, soaring seagulls and—if you’re lucky—playful dolphins that frolic en route to the port. On deck is where the views of Istanbul’s best attractions await. The shores of Asia to the east, the first Bosphorus Bridge to the north, and the “old Istanbul” peninsula in the south—home to Topkapı Palace and Hagia Sophia—give a glimpse of what’s to come on your visit.
But once you step ashore in Istanbul, you’ll find the most interesting parts of the city—neighborhoods with personalities of their own. Explore the sights of bohemian Beyoğlu: a contemporary district brimming with galleries and street art, back street bars, cafés and fashion outlets that line the busy shopping avenue—Istiklal Caddesi. Meanwhile, across the Golden Horn, Zeyrek’s ancient timber houses made it a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site where people live a traditional way of life. Sultanahmet is where travelers of the world sightsee and explore palaces, temples and mosques that once defined the power of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. But, as these empire builders learned, it’s difficult to conquer Istanbul in one trip. You’ll want come back for more.