Hagia Sophia and Eminonu

Istanbul has just been announced the world’s top travel destination, according to TripAdvisor’s 2014 Travelers’ Choice awards. A skyrocketing 11 places up from last year, the city has had this recognition coming for a while now, and here it is.

Last year, Istanbul was recognized as the best travel destination in Europe by European Consumers Choice. Istanbul’s airport also experienced major growth, and posted the biggest jump in passenger numbers among the world’s major hubs.

But what is it that makes Istanbul such a great place to visit? And why is everybody suddenly so eager to visit? Here are some of the reasons. 

1. Around every corner history greets you

Basilica Cistern Istanbul

Everywhere you look in Istanbul, you will see signs of times gone by. Just by taking a walk, you become witness to how history has unfolded over at least the past two millennia. Four empires used to call this city their capital and it was the venue for numerous historical dramas that affected the fate of both Europe and the Near and Middle East. Not to speak of its position of major importance along the historic Silk Road.


Istanbul’s historical and architectural heritage includes Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman structures, which have been preserved and are well taken care of. Museums, mosques, columns, palaces, waterside mansions, towers and the list goes on. Istanbul has a special place in the hearts of lovers of history and architecture.

2. Come, have a seat. Would you like some tea?

Tea in Gülhane Park

Every country and major city likes to boast of its hospitality and how well it treats its guests. Of course they all have a point, and of course Turkey is no different. But wherever you go, hospitality has a different hue and feeling to it.

Istanbul’s is of the cozy variety that offers you tea when you have a break somewhere, has a friendly chat with you that expresses genuine interest, and haggles endlessly at the market to your (and everyone else’s) amusement.

3. Experience a real, bustling market and enjoy a delicious meal

Istanbul also offers great shopping and food opportunities if this is something you appreciate. The Grand Bazaar (which has been around since 1461, by the way), the Egyptian Bazaar (also an old one), and the Mahmutpasha Bazaar are all located next to each other. There you can buy anything from food and spices, to souvenirs and art. And this list doesn’t even scratch the surface; those are only the most prominent ones.

Istanbul - 009

Last but not least, there are many delicious and exciting opportunities for your taste buds. Most notably – the seafood restaurants in the neighborhoods along the shores of the Bosphorus. Certainly something for connoisseurs of seafood cuisine.

4. Want to do business? You’re in the right place

Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network 2013 - Istanbul

Given its location and historic importance along the Silk Road, contemporary Istanbul has also turned into an important hub for business. This is further reinforced by the above two points – that Istanbul is a great location for leisure, which, after a long day of doing business, is quite important.

International conferences are held in Istanbul all the time. During the busiest months, there can be up to fifteen or more such conferences. And these are only the major ones. Team buildings are also constantly organized in Istanbul. And among employers the city is a popular destination for incentive travel.

5. Enjoy the weather and breathe in deeply when on the Bosphorus

Istanbul Bosphorus cruise

Last but not least is Istanbul’s almost Mediterranean climate and its green spaces. While it may get cold or rainy every once in a while, generally the weather is perfect. It doesn’t get scorching hot in the summer, neither does it get awfully cold in winter. Unless you like your weather extreme, you will find that Istanbul’s mild climate is just right.

Then there’s the many parks and gardens. During April these are filled with beautiful and blooming tulips. And during the rest of the year, they are just as great for a walk, a picnic or simply to have some rest.

Finally, let’s not forget the Bosphorus. Taking a Bosphorus cruise is one of the most enjoyable things you can do when in Istanbul. You can take sightseeing cruises, sunset or dinner cruises, you can go north to the Black Sea or south to the Prince islands. Whatever it is you do, you should certainly give it a try. Without the Bosphorus, Istanbul just wouldn’t be the same.

So when were you visiting again?

All of the above and more are the reasons why Istanbul has been chosen as the world’s top travel destination. It holds plenty of promises for all, and is equally suited for lovers of culture, history, food and leisure, as well as for doing business. Come and see for yourself!

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