Now is an excellent time to visit this booming metropolis, standing boldly astride the Bosphorus Strait dividing Europe and Asia. On the best days itís still warm enough to stroll around the old cityís Byzantine and Ottoman Turkish architectural treasures in shirt sleeves, or sip sweet black tea from a tulip-shaped glass in the open courtyard of a 300-year-old Medrese.

On the worst, part with a couple of quid for a brolly from a street vendor and dodge showers between sights as varied as the monumental Blue Mosque and the eerily illuminated depths of the Basilica Cistern.

Begin your 36-hour visit here.