Thought Paris was the most visited city in the world? It’s time to think again!
The City of Love attracts huge numbers of tourists each year and is on the top of the bucket list for many international travelers, but it is no longer the world’s most visited city.
Instead Istanbul has stolen the crown and welcomed an incredible 20.2 million visitors in 2023. This makes it the city with the most international arrivals in the world.
Here’s why this is the world’s most visited city:
Istanbul Takes The Crown
Istanbul is officially the world’s most visited city closely followed by London which welcomed 18.8 million international visitors and then Dubai.
Another Turkish city, Antalya, took 4th place based on international arrivals, with Paris lagging behind in 5th place according to recent data.
Istanbul is one of my favorite cities, particularly at this time of year when the crowd levels are low and the temperatures are mild.
But one of the reasons Istanbul receives so many visitors is because it’s a year-round destination and its coastal location straddling the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara means there’s a welcoming breeze during the summer months.
Istanbul has something to offer everyone.
Why Visit Istanbul?
Istanbul is an East meets West city. It is one of only a handful of cities in the world to be shared by two continents, and it has a European and an Asian half.
This means you can experience the unique historical and cultural riches of Europe and Asia in just one city.
Some of the cultural highlights of Istanbul include the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Visitors will now need to pay 25 euros ($ ) to visit the Hagia Sophia but access to the Blue Mosque is free.
Shopping fans will love the myriad maze of the Grand Bazaar with its bustle and the noise of the shopkeepers calling to attract your attention.
This is walking distance from the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque and you can comfortably fit all three attractions in 1 day.
You’ll find the locals shopping in the Egyptian Bazaar which is a spice and tea market. The smell here is incredible and the coffee shops that surround it are a great place to stop to catch your breath with a rich Turkish coffee.
Cross into the European side of the city where you can climb to the top of the Galata Tower, which was built as a watchtower. Catch your breath at the top and you can enjoy incredible views across the city.
You can also explore Bagdat Street which is one of the busiest streets in Istanbul and is home to a host of luxury boutiques and high-end restaurants.
If you visit Istanbul during the spring or summer months, then another incredible experience is to take a ferry tour to the Prince’s Islands. This is a cluster of 9 islands in the Sea of Marmara.
They are mainly car-free, but you can get around the islands on old-world horse and carriage. They are a great place to relax on the beach and are a popular day trip destination for local residents.
Affordable For Budget Travelers
It’s also worth noting that Istanbul is a great destination for travelers on a budget. Simple simet rolls cost around 50 Turkish lira ($1.60) and a hearty kebab in a local restaurant would set you back around 300 Turkish lira ($9).
You can visit Istanbul on a budget and still live like a king too. High-end food is a great example of this.
Salt Bae’s Nusr-Et brand of steakhouse restaurants are notorious for their eye-watering price tags. In the New York branch, a strip steak costs $72, and a Prime Tomahawk will set you back $169.
In the Istanbul branch, which has a wonderful location inside the Grand Bazaar you would pay 2,175 Turkish Lira ($71) for the Tomahawk and the famous Nusr-et burger is just 500 Turkish Lira ($16).
This is my favorite restaurant in Istanbul and well worth the hype if you’re in the mood to splurge on a decent steak.
This same rule of thumb applies to almost everything in the city. A single ticket to ride the tram or bus is just 20 Turkish lira (65 cents) and the public transport system is an easy and effective way to navigate the city.
And while your budget might stretch to the 3-star hotel in Paris the same figure would get you a 5-star hotel in Istanbul, particularly if you travel in the off-season.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.