Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and one of the most coveted regions in the world, with lavish landmarks, breath-taking views, and a unique and rich history.
One of the largest cities in Europe, Istanbul has a population of 16 million.
The city sits in a strategic location; the Bosporus divides Anatolia (Asian Turkey) from Thrace (European Turkey) and is the only passage from the Mediterranean and Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. A magical meeting place between two continents, people from all over the world come to Istanbul to experience its eclectic culture.
According to Mastercard ‘s Global Destination Cities Index, Istanbul had 14 million visitors in 2019, making it the world’s 8th most-visited city.
A bustling metropolis with an ancient past, the city was formerly known as Constantinople, and was once the capital of both the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire. International visitors journey to Turkey to see its centuries-old architecture and archaeological sites, which still have colourful tales to tell.
Some of the country’s most popular attractions include the Mosque of Hagia Sophia, a remarkable structure which since the Ottoman rule of Istanbul has existed as a historical museum. Visitors can also marvel at the mesmerising Topkapi Palace; inhabited by the Ottoman Sultans that reigned between the 15th and 19th centuries, the palace transports you back in time with its opulent exhibition halls, courts, treasury, and harem hidden beneath the Tower of Justice.
As Turkey’s industrial centre and the country’s economic hub, today Istanbul combines the old with the new. Century-old buildings sit next to towering modern skyscrapers. Business in Istanbul accounts for a third of the country’s economy, and many thriving global businesses have set up base there.
New developments are attracting locals and tourists alike. Galataport cruise port—a world-class cruise ship port and the first of its kind—was completed at the end of 2021. It is set to welcome 25 million visitors, including 7 million foreign tourists and 1.5 million cruise ship passengers.
Known for its long-standing opulence, Istanbul has been regarded as one of the cities most favoured by billionaires.
Luxury property in Turkey is receiving particular interest in recent months, not just from domestic buyers turning to property as an inflation hedge, but also from international investors.
Our experts say
“Turkey is emerging strongly from the pandemic, with revenues nearly tripling in Q2 2022 and foreign visitor numbers rebounding near to 2019 levels.
The new Istanbul Airport means that the city’s current hub for Europe will have even more increased capacity, serving both domestic and international traffic.
As tourists and visitors flood to the area, demand for villas and property rises. Investors are taking advantage of Turkey’s red hot real estate market, the favourable exchange rate, and the country’s attractive Citizenship by Investment program.”
Natasha Wilson, Property Consultant
How to get there
It’s possible to drive to Turkey from Europe, and from the UK in two to four days after taking the ferry. An advantage to driving to Turkey is that you’ll pass through various other European destinations, and get to see some fantastic scenery. While Istanbul’s roads are relatively easy to navigate, be prepared to encounter some congestion.
Train lines run into Istanbul from Europe. The Istanbul-Sofia Express operates daily between Istanbul and Sofia in Bulgaria. Regional routes connect the country’s cities and towns, with suburban trains through Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara. You also have the Eurasia Tunnel, connecting one side of Istanbul to the other in less than 15 minutes and easing congestion on the city’s roads.
Istanbul is incredibly well connected by air, and the new Istanbul Airport is one of the largest in the world. It connects people to 66 countries, with direct flights to all major capitals and cities across the globe.
Many people travelling to Turkey will take a ferry as part of their journey. Travelling by boat from the Greek islands is a popular route into Istanbul. You can also get the ferry from Cyprus and Ukraine. With impressive shipping ports, many cruise ships stop in the city.
Istanbul has what is known as a transitional Mediterranean climate, with relatively cold winters, but hot summers with little rain. Spring is particularly mild, with signs of winter dispelling quickly, and is a good time for people to visit. As a geographically diverse region, Istanbul’s climate varies greatly depending on where in the city you go.
Average temperatures during the summer range between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, with July as typically the hottest month. Istanbul’s climate can get quite humid and the heat is particularly felt in the city, although the sea permits a cool breeze.
In the months from December to February, Istanbul can see lows of under 5 degrees Celsius. The west experiences a particularly Balkan climate. 35 per cent of the rainfall occurs in winter, and the wettest months are November and December.
As Turkey’s most populous region at 16 million, Istanbul constitutes almost 20% of the country’s total population. And it is set to continue to grow; the United Nations predict that the population will reach 18 million by 2035.
In addition to a swelling population, the city also has extremely high visitor numbers. Nicknamed the “City of Seven Hills”, it is known for its breath-taking views as well as its rich history, impressive feats of architecture, and fascinating culture. These are just some of the things that make Turkey’s largest city an extremely popular tourist destination.
As one of the most visited cities in the world, Istanbul receives a lot of attention from overseas real estate investors looking to make a profit. Demand for rental properties is high, and the market remains strong.
Due to supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, construction costs continue to climb, leading to limited supply in the market. As a result, the price for residential property has soared—with new builds, in particular, leading the charge.
As inflation surpasses an immense 70% in the country, Turkish citizens are turning to property as an inflation hedge. This is causing a surging demand, pushing prices up even further and ensuring that Turkish property remains a good deal.
Amid surging demand and limited supply, the residential real estate market in Turkey is growing faster than any country in Europe—and house prices in Istanbul are increasing at an even faster rate than the country’s average. In fact, Istanbul was the city with the highest rate of price growth in the year to Q1 2022, according to Knight Frank’s Global Residential Cities Index.
The country is also experiencing an influx of foreign buyers keen for a stake in Turkey’s red-hot market. Figures from TurkStat have revealed that sales to foreign buyers rose 58% y-o-y in April 2022 as the real estate market in Turkey attracts global attention.
Many international investors are attracted by Turkey’s Golden Visa program, officially known as the Turkish Citizenship by Investment program. By purchasing a property with a value of $400,000 or more, overseas investors can acquire citizenship and a Turkish passport in less than two months. Alternatively, investors can make a capital investment of a minimum of $500,000, which can be deposited in a Turkish bank account, or invested into government bonds or fund shares. Setting up a company that will create 50 new job opportunities for Turkish citizens also qualifies you for the country’s Golden Visa.
One of the main advantages of Turkey’s Golden Visa for overseas buyers is that there is no minimum residency requirements. Essentially, you can secure a Turkish passport without ever having visited Turkey. The country also allows dual citizenship for all nationalities, meaning you can stay and work in your native country if you wish.