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This area of Marmara Region contains some 11,200,000 residents.
The national capital, Ankara, is situated 220 miles east of Istanbul, while Adalar is 12 miles to the southeast.
This dynamic place is, without a doubt, a world-class city. You simply can't visit here and not see the Hagia Sophia and the Hippodrome. The Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace are also iconic sights here.
Get active with the kids and enjoy some quality time together at Miniaturk and Vialand. Want more? Kumburgaz Lunapark and Aqua Club Dolphin will ensure that the good times keep rolling.
Fish-loving travelers will enjoy the wide variety of aquatic creatures housed at TurkuaZoo. There's also something fishy going on at Istanbul Aquarium and Istanbul Dolphinarium.
For a real taste of this region, gather your friends and head to Bomontiada. Tour the vineyards, wine presses and barrel rooms and chat with expert vintners. If you don't want a great day to end, pick up a few bottles to share with friends at home.
Bring along a bite to eat and take it easy for a while in the tranquil surroundings of Taksim Gezi Park and Gulhane Park. Camlica Hill and Emirgan Park are two more pleasant spots to while away the afternoon with a good book.
If you've never been good at separating the words "vacation" and "beach" then you're in the right place. There's plenty of scenic coastline here to satisfy even the most amphibious travelers. Kilyos Beach and Suadiye Beach should be your first stops. Buyukcekmece Beach and Florya Beach are also highly recommended.
Need some time away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world? Make your way over to Piyer Loti and Suada Island. Aydos Hill and Joshua's Hill are also recommended by nature-loving visitors.
Grab a buddy or two and explore some of the popular cultural institutions nearby. Savor the contemplative atmosphere as you check out the displays at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and the Maritime Museum. Florence Nightingale Museum and the Museum of Innocence are also worth a visit.
The samples of objects and specimens at the Sadberk Hanim Museum will give you an amazing glimpse into exotic, unknown worlds.
A haven for lovers of art, this area houses an impressive range of spaces in which artists and designers regularly showcase their wares. Soak up the cool atmosphere at the Istanbul Modern Art Museum and the Pera Museum. If you're feeling inspired, wrap up the afternoon at the Sakip Sabanci Museum and the Mosaic Museum.
There's always a new twist on our past at the Panoroma 1453. If that's got you going, you should also check out the engrossing items on display at the Panoroma 1453 and the Adalar Museum.
Basilica Cistern and Galata Tower are certainly worth taking a look at, even if you're not that into history. When it comes to days of old, there's always more to discover. Dolmabahce Palace and the Cagaloglu Hamami are two more great places to stop by.
A rich history of civil engineering is evident in Halic Koprusu or Topkapı Harem, two impressive old structures that cross these waters.
Striking historic defenses, Yedikule Hisari and Anadoluhisari give us a glimpse into the region's military history. You can also admire the unique design of Anadolu Hisari Fort and Yedikule Zindanlari.
Some of the area's most influential families have called Beylerbeyi Palace and Yildiz Palace "home" throughout the years. Be sure to take a few photos as you take in their impressive architectural features and gorgeous interiors. You might also like to meander through the leafy gardens and seek out some stories about Kucuksu Palace and Ihlamur Palace.
You might not see any kings and queens, but you may find a drawbridge or turret at Rumeli Hisari or Riva Castle. Yoros Kalesi and Anadolu Kavağı Kalesi are two more impressive cultural monuments.
Whether you consider yourself spiritual or not, you'll be sure to enjoy a trip to the Suleymaniye Mosque and Chora Church. If you want to look at more religious sites, keep an eye out for tours at Church of St. George and the Rustem Pasha Mosque.
Before you pack your suitcase and make your way home, ensure you check out some of the area's lesser-known attractions. Galata Bridge and French Street are some good options. If you have more time to spare, also think about visiting Istiklal Avenue or Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.
Istanbul is very popular with tourists, and offers a good assortment of places to stay. Expedia's Istanbul lodging guide is your go-to place.
Visitors who appreciate luxury and style can choose from the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, at Ciragan Cad. No. 28, and the Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul, at Sinanpasa Mah, Hayrettin Iskelesi Sok. If those don't quite match your requirements, the Lion Hotel or the Taksim Premium Hotel are two more budget-friendly options that may hit the right note for you.
Another good option is to stay near Topkapi Palace by booking accommodation at the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, which is just 0.4 miles away. Equally popular is the GLK PREMIER Acropol Suites & Spa, 0.4 miles from Topkapi Palace.
When we think back over our travels, we usually remember experiences rather than our ritzy hotel room and the view of the pool. Are you ready to make some new travel memories?
Jump-start your trip to Istanbul by checking out some of these activities:
If you'd like to take a look at a comprehensive list of activities, go to our Istanbul things to do page.
*Savings based on all vacation package bookings with Flight + Hotel on Expedia.com from January through December 2017, as compared to price of the same components booked separately. Savings will vary based on origin/destination, length of trip, stay dates and selected travel supplier(s). Savings not available on all packages. For Free Flight or 100% Off Flight deals, package savings is greater than or equal to the current cost of one component, when both are priced separately.