Istanbul has been voted the best place to visit in the world in the sixth annual Travellers’ Choice awards for Destinations, organised by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site. The largest city in Turkey, Istanbul is the country’s cultural capital and embraces both its European and Asian roots as the country bridges the two continents. Being named the world’s favourite tourist destination, ahead of Rome in second place, will be a shot in the arm for the city, not only for its tourism industry but also for the Istanbul property market.
Istanbul is experiencing rapid infrastructure and accessibility upgrades, including the construction of a third airport – set to be the world’s largest - and third bridge over the Bosphorus, as well as the recent opening of a tunnel under the strait. It has also become a hub for new hotel openings by global hotel chains and an increasingly popular destination for the hosting of conferences and exhibitions.
The city's mosques, bazaars, and hammams (Turkish baths) could keep you happily occupied for your entire trip, says TripAdvisor, which advises starting a visit with the awe-inspiring Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque), followed by a stroll over the Galata Bridge, stopping by the Miniaturk Park to see its tiny artifacts. Meanwhile, the Grand Bazaar has thousands of shops to browse, while the Egyptian Bazaar is a fragrant trove of spices and fruits.
Perhaps surprisingly, historical favourites in the Travellers’ Choice awards Paris and New York have dropped down the list to seventh and twelfth place respectively. Elsewhere, Asian destinations are named among the biggest risers, with Beijing, Hanoi, and Shanghai all awarded one of the top ten places for the first time.