Great feature in the Times yesterday on the world’s top destinations in terms of visitor numbers, taken from the MasterCard Global Destinations Index. London leads with 18.82m (up 6%), Paris is third with 16.06m and New York is sixth with 12.27m. But the big change is Istanbul, currently fifth with a very impressive 12.56m and set to overtake Paris in four years’ time. To celebrate this news, here are our top three picks this week from the new Summer 2015 Istanbul guide by travel journalist Tristan Rutherford. Have a great weekend.
EVENT – Istanbul Music Festival
This month-long classical music season pairs searing symphony orchestras from as far afield as Germany and Spain with a chance to visit Istanbul’s most hush-hush historical sights. Concerts take over secret venues such as the Austrian Consulate gardens and Aya Triada monastery on the Princes’ Islands. Seasonal highlights include 12 duelling cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic performing inside the Hagia Eirene church by the Topkapı Palace.
From 31 May to 29 June.
DRINK – Reina
Istanbul’s most super of superclubs hosts an all-summer, hands-in-the-air al fresco extravaganza. Yes, it’s a super-swish, nouveau-riche fiesta of Euro-pop and podium bop. And yes, you can valet park both your Bentley and your speedboat. But it’s also bags of A-list Istanbul fun. For free entry reserve a table at the (pricey as hell) outdoor restaurant. Paris Hilton and Gisele Bündchen are fans.
Favourite drink: a dirty Martini under Bosphorus skies as the bassline throbs at 100 decibels.
+90 212 259 5919
Muallim Naci Caddesi 44, 34347 Kuruçeşme
SLEEP – Hotel Ibrahim Pasha
Does my roof terrace look big in this? The Ibrahim Pasha is one of the handful of hotels where you can sip Turkish Chardonnay as the sun sets over the Blue Mosque. Just be aware of the morning prayers as you snooze in the 24 guestrooms, which boast oak floors and Molton Brown products. Breakfast al fresco on cherries, figs and soft summer fruits.
Favourite room: room 305 on the new wing has a cute balcony with a fleeting view of the Blue Mosque.
+90 212 518 0394
Terzihane Sokak 7, 34122 Sultanahmet