DestinationsAn underground cruise terminal, new hotels and refreshed art spaces are shaking up the city's historic quarters.

Istanbul travel guide: What's new for 2022

View from the Suleymaniye Mosque complex to the Golden Horn, Istanbul.
View from the Suleymaniye Mosque complex to the Golden Horn, Istanbul. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Fyletto

Consistently ranked among the world’s best cities, Istanbul has wooed travellers for millennia, drawn by its impressive cultural sites, phenomenal shopping opportunities and delectable cuisine. And now, a number of new openings are providing additional incentives to visit the thriving metropolis.

Here’s what to know about Istanbul travel in 2022.

Galataport: A new cruise port and tourist destination

One of the most exciting new openings for 2022 is Galataport, Istanbul’s transformed historic city harbour.

Extending about 1.2km along the Bosphorus in the trendy Karakoy district, the US$1.7 billion project has been opening in stages since August 2021. The grouping of new and restored buildings contains 250 restaurants, retail stores and cultural venues. On one side of this is an attractive waterside promenade, and on the other is Clock Tower Square, a refurbished public space revolving around the 174-year-old Tophane Clock Tower.

Beneath this is the world’s first underground cruise ship terminal, which will welcome passengers for the 2022 season. Making use of groundbreaking technology and an innovative hatch system, the 29,000-square-metre terminal has the capacity of serving three ships and 15,000 passengers per day. The Galataport complex, as a whole, is projected to receive 25 million visitors per year, including 7 million foreign tourists.

The world's first underground cruise ship terminal sits in Galataport.
The world's first underground cruise ship terminal sits in Galataport. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/necati bahadir bermek

Museum reopenings

Galataport also hosts two new museum buildings: Istanbul Modern and the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (MSGSU) Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture.

Originally founded in 2004, the new building of Istanbul’s Museum of Modern Art was conceived by renowned architect Renzo Piano, the designer of Paris’s Centre Pompidou and New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. Scheduled to open this summer, the museum will display works by both Turkish and international modern and contemporary artists.

Meanwhile, located on the roof of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University at Galataport, the MSGSU Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture houses a notable collection of late Ottoman to late 20th-century Western art.

After a 10-year refurbishment, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums unveiled its new exhibition space in December 2021. Originally established in 1869 in a collection of buildings near the Topkapi Palace, the museums feature new displays created with modern technology to better engage with visitors. Back on show are famed Roman-era masterpieces the Sarcophagus of Alexander and Sarcophagus of the Crying Women, restored to their previous glory.

Cutting-edge arts and culture venues

Facing Taksim Square is the renewed Ataturk Cultural Center. Originally opened in 1969, the building was reinvented by Murat Tabanlioglu, the son of its original architect, and began reopening in sections as of October 2021. Combining traditional Turkish craftsmanship with contemporary technology, the vast complex features a theatre, an arts library, a music museum, cafes, restaurants and a dazzling new 2,040-seat opera hall.

The Serefiye Cistern should also be on visitors’ lists. Built in the mid-5th century, the well-preserved, columned water cistern was rediscovered beneath modern buildings in Sultanahmet in 2010. Restored and opened to the public in 2018, it recently inaugurated a new 3D sound and light show created with 360-degree projection mapping technology and projected throughout the space hourly.

Watefront dining at Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus.
Watefront dining at Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus. Photo Credit: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

New and enhanced hotels in Istanbul

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group opened its second Istanbul hotel — sitting on the banks of the Bosphorus — in August 2021. In addition to its 100 rooms and suites, Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul has several waterfront dining facilities, bars, garden terraces and a luxurious spa.

Also on the Bosphorus, The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul has undergone an US$8.5 million renewal project. Updates to the modern tower include a refurbished Club Lounge and a new look for its 243 guestrooms (including 23 suites) blending traditional Ottoman design and contemporary style.

Over in the historical peninsula district, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet is going through a complete overhaul, scheduled for completion in August 2022. Set within a 100-year-old building, the hotel’s refurbishments will freshen up its 65 guestrooms while retaining an elegant, classical decor well-suited to the historic structure.

New on the boutique hotel scene is the Ecole St. Pierre Hotel, which occupies a former 19th-century French school a short distance from the Galata Tower. Rooms surround a picturesque interior courtyard overlooking the hotel’s stylish Italian restaurant, Il Cortile.

The Michelin Guide will rank Istanbul's top restaurants

On 11 October 2022, Istanbul will become the 38th destination to be classified by the meticulous judges of the Michelin Guide. In the lead-up, the city’s top chefs will be operating at their highest level in order to be ready for the unannounced visits of the guide’s undercover investigators. Therefore, there’s no better time to enjoy the city’s leading restaurants and make guesses as to who will earn the highly coveted stars.

Source: TravelAge West

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