Celebrate Eid Al Fitr in Istanbul

Blue Mosque, Istanbul - August 2010 046There are about three weeks until the end of Ramadan and many people are already preparing for the long anticipated public holiday that is Eid Al Fitr. Have you already planned your Eid Al Fitr holiday? If not, why not travel to one of the most extraordinary cities in the world, Istanbul, and experience its beautiful fusion of Islamic traditions and modern lifestyle.

Planning a holiday, even a short one, isn’t so easy – you have to choose a destination, you need to find a good hotel, you need to decide how you will travel, and of course, how much this whole exiting experience will cost you. This year, the public holiday will start on Thursday, August 8 and will continue for three days, which means that you won’t have time for long trips. However, instead of staying at home in Dubai or visiting a nearby emirate, you can visit Istanbul. The destination is perfect because it’s not too close, nor too far from the UAE. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and being a former capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, it has a lot to offer to its visitors.

The Topkapi Place is an absolute must-see in Istabul. It was the luxurious home of Ottoman sultans and their wives who were kept in one of the most popular harems – a place of rich treasures, beautiful art pieces and a really unique atmosphere. Stained-glass windows, gilded grilled bathrooms, fountains, secret chambers, gardens and terraces – the palace will magically bring you back in 17th century or even earlier. Another amazing place to visit is the Hagia Sophia, or Aya Sofya in Turkish. Constructed in 537, the building has served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral until 1453 when it was converted to a mosque. Now, a museum, Aya Sofya will surprise you with its extraordinary spaciousness and signs of both religions.

Dolmbache Palace, Istanbul, Turkey But if you want to see a real spaciousness, mixed with luxury and style, we recommend the Dolmabahce Palace. It is indeed a unique place – its construction cost about 5 million Ottoman gold coins in 1845, the equivalent of 35 tons of gold! The design is a beautiful blend of elements from Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles, paired with traditional Ottoman architecture. As a whole, the palace is one of the major cultural, historical and heritage sites of the country. And when visiting Istanbul, you just can’t miss the famous Kapali Charshi, or Grand Bazaar, where you can shop, well, practically anything you want, but especially carpets, spices, leather, souvenirs and various dishes. This is the largest oriental market in the world with over 4000 shops, as well as banks, restaurants, cafes, and mosques and is the perfect place to experience the Turkish culture.

So, if we managed to convince you already of visiting Istanbul, you will have to start planning. The best choice for transportation is flying. It’s fast – only three and half hours from Dubai – so you will have more time for sightseeing. Besides, if you choose a good airline, you can enjoy a luxury travel and a first-class customer service at a great price, especially if you book a return flight well in advance.

There are several high quality airlines with daily flights to Istanbul. One of them is Emirates Airlines with two flights from Dubai to Istanbul every day, so you can choose whatever suits you best. You can easily book not only your flight, but also a hotel stay and a pick-up car on their official website. The return Economy Class fares start from AED 2,665 if you fly from Dubai and AED 2,485 from Abu Dhabi per person. The other airline which offers flights from Abu Dhabi and Dubai is Qatar Airways – note that after departure, you have a little more than an hour transit time in Doha. The lowest price from Dubai is AED 2,335 and from Abu Dhabi it’s almost the same – AED 2,345. When booking on their website, there is also an option of booking a hotel, too. Booking online with Turkish Airlines is also a good option – they have direct flights where you can even select your onboard seat! For a return Economy Class fare plus all the taxes you will pay nearly the same as at Emirates.

Four Points Sheraton, Istanbul Next thing you should do is to consider booking a hotel stay in advance. It’s usually cheaper than choosing a hotel in the last minute. On Booking.com you can choose from more than 1400 hotels, apartments and villas in the city. The website offers detailed information, discounts, pictures, as well as customer reviews and ratings, so you can choose the cheapest or the most luxurious hotel. Another online travel agency which provides verified information on quality hotels is Expedia.com. Here you can choose by customer ratings, price, extras and hotel types. Expedia works with more than 700 hotels, apartment accommodations and resorts and offers various limited time offers and sales on stays. So, you have a good chance to find a discount on all-inclusive hotel, for instance and save a bit. Of course, you can also find a hotel on the holiday page of Qatar Airlines where you will choose from more than 200 hotels in Istanbul.

You should know that there are thousands of hotels in Istanbul, many of which have only 2- and 3-star accommodations. Try to book a higher quality hotel if you want TV, internet and a pool, for instance. One of the best choices would be the international 5-star Istanbul Marriott Hotel Asia which has various amenities such as free high-speed Internet, fitness & business center, full serviced spa, parking and well, anything you would wish for. Another hotel brand you can trust is of course Accor Hotels which is the largest hotel operator in Europe. They have four hotels in the city, all modern and offering comfort, luxury and great customer service, so you can choose a place a place to stay based on your interests, needs or finances.

Well, you see, it’s not so difficult to plan your holiday trip by yourself and to celebrate Eid Al Fitr in Istanbul. Choose Istanbul and you will experience a great Eid Al Fitr, both traditional and different. And besides, you will have a lot of stories to tell and pictures to show to your friends!

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