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Planning Your Trip

A thoroughly modern city rooted in rich history, Istanbul is home to a plethora of exciting things to do and stunning sights to see. Here’s what to bring to experience both the old and the new in this worldly destination.

Business Travel

Set on the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul straddles the line of Europe and Asia, making it a busy destination for global business. If work brings you to town, here’s what to pack to feel right at home in this diverse city.



  • Istanbul residents tend to be fashion-conscious while erring on the side of conservative. A classic black shift dress that hits below the knee is a smart choice for ladies, while men should bring at least one dark-colored suit for more formal meetings.
  • Stylish dress is the norm in Istanbul, so depending on your line of work, you can swap in avant-garde pieces, like a statement necklace or vintage bow tie.
  • If your meetings will have you traveling across the city, opt for a comfortable walking shoe that can hold up on the ancient cobblestone streets.

Exploring the City

Perhaps the best way to experience Istanbul is by spending your day wandering from museums to historical sites. Bring along a few essentials to make the most of your time.



  • The Old City’s mosques are some of the city’s finest attractions. Have a scarf handy to use as a head-covering when visiting religious sites.
  • Taxis and public transportation are plentiful, but Istanbul is a city best experienced on foot. Pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes for meandering the streets.
  • Keep a bundle of small bills on hand for shopping, gratuities and cab rides. Vendors and drivers rarely carry much change.

Evening Chic

After days spent exploring the ancient side of the city, unwind at some of the decidedly modern restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Fit in with the local stylish set by stashing a few must-haves in your suitcase.


  • While sensible shoes are a smart choice for daytime exploring, reach for fancier footwear when heading out on the town — heels for ladies and wingtips for men.
  • It’s customary to dress up a bit for a night on the town in Istanbul, so skip the worn-in jeans and T-shirts in favor of dresses and slacks.
  • Istanbul’s summer weather is warm, but temperatures can drop as the sun fades. Don’t forget a light jacket or wrap to keep you comfortable. Winter is downright chilly, so pack something a bit heavier for bundling up.
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Don't Forget:

In winter, temperatures can get chilly, so consider a warmer layer or two to ward off any chill as you enjoy an evening stroll.

While you’ll likely want to keep much of your time in Istanbul unscheduled and devoted to exploring city streets, there are a few things to add to your itinerary before you go. Make the most of your time in this magical city with these activities.

Dining Reservations

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For elegant dining paired with stunning views, be sure to book a table at Atelier Real Food at The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul. Chefs in an open kitchen prepare French rotisserie chicken, lamb, rib-eye steaks and other dishes with farm-to-table ingredients that can be enjoyed alongside an excellent view of the glistening Bosphorus. For a modern take on traditional Turkish fare, head to 360 Istanbul, where you’ll enjoy a variety of meze plates from the penthouse of a 19th-century apartment building. Don’t miss the rigatoni with four varieties of mushrooms, the lamb and pistachio dumplings, or the slow-roasted duck with cherries.

Museum Tickets and Cultural Sights

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There are so many incredible sights to see and museums to explore in Istanbul, you’d be well-served to ask the concierge to arrange for a guided tour of the city. You’ll explore the giant buttresses, massive dome and stunning mosaics of the iconic Hagia Sophia; catch a ferry over to Chora Church, which dates back to the 11th century and is covered in kaleidoscope mosaics and frescoes; and wander through the ruins of an ancient arena at Hippodrome Square.  


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For a lively night out, head to the Beyoglu district, where revelers can find everything from hip rooftop bars and bustling indie clubs to basement jazz cafés and lively rock bars. For a more mellow evening, reserve a table at Leb-i-Derya, a sophisticated rooftop bar that serves up craft cocktails, great music and spectacular nighttime views of the Bosphorus River.

Children’s Activities

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Istanbul is brimming with fun activities for all ages, making it a surprisingly family-friendly destination. Immerse the little ones in history and culture with trips to Topkapi Palace (now a museum), the Blue Mosque, and the underground Basilica Cistern, which dates back to 532. For a more kid-centric activity, secure tickets to SEA Life, where more than 10,000 fish are on display, along with sharks and stingrays. Other kid-friendly options include the Rahmi Koc Museum, which is dedicated to the history of transport, industry and communications; the Toy Museum, which is just as much fun as the name implies; and Miniaturk, a vast park full of miniatures.

Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and as Turkey’s largest city, has seen many kingdoms rise and fall throughout its rich and storied history. Colorful mosques still stand centuries later in all of their glory. Old boats zig-zag through the glistening Bosphorus. And countless cultural sites, such as the iconic Hagia Sophia, are ripe for exploring. Browse for antiques and smell a host of fragrant spices at local markets. Sample Turkish coffee and dine on extravagant breakfast spreads by day. At night, enjoy fresh seafood dinners by the water. When you need to recharge, take a rest in your waterfront accommodations or experience the traditional Turkish hammam at The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul.


Cultural Treasures

With a diverse history of Ottoman and Roman occupations, Istanbul has a rich history that can be experienced through a number of stunning sites throughout the city. Visit staggeringly beautiful icons like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque along with some under-the-radar gems. Shop for souvenirs at the city’s famous bustling markets. And experience the best authentic culinary traditions, including a cup of near-addictive Turkish coffee. The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul is well situated for all of these adventures and more.


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Family Vacation Fun

The bustling and beautiful city of Istanbul is not just for adults. There are plenty of exciting and enlightening adventures for all ages. Bring your family on historical tours of spectacular ruins and churches. Visit a number of interactive museums that host workshops. Dine on delicious local Turkish cuisine and save room for some Turkish treats. The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul is the perfect resting place for your downtime in between. Sign up for Ritz Kids and your room will be set up with changing stations and other necessities.


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