The multi-sports division
of Howzat Travel




Athletics World Indoor Championships 2012
Istanbul Tour Leaders' Inspection Report

Centresport Travel' Graham Botley and All Sports Travel's Benjamin Woolnough recently visited Istanbul, venue of the forthcoming World Indoor Championships on a reconnaissance trip. Here they share their insights into this fascinating historical city, unique as the only city in the World to straddle two continents; Europe and Asia.

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Istanbul is an ancient, sprawling metropolis where the past meets the present with breathtaking sights on every corner to delight all the senses. Trams rush past ancient temples and mosques, and the bustling streets are brimming with bargains, and traders carrying mountains of goods on their backs en route to the Bazaars and markets. The markets themselves are interspersed with the wonderful tastes and smells of Istanbul. Sweet shops await you with their tempting honey, nuts, and endless Turkish delight, while the spice sellers and tea makers draw you in for their variety in abundance. With the array of colourful rugs and carpets stacked high, and the gold and jewellery shops you will be both amazed and spoilt for choice beneath the arched market roofs.

Needless to say, Ben and Graham were more than pleasantly surprised by the hospitality, friendliness, cleanliness, charm and safety from a city rich in history and variety.



It has not been very well documented, but upon arrival you will need a Visa to enter Turkey.

There is no prior contact with authorities needed, and it is simply the case of paying £10 or 15 Euros at the marked area just before passport control for a Visa sticker. The process is extremely quick and hassle free with a quick-moving queue. There is an ATM providing Dollars and Euros next to the Visa desk if required.



We are extremely pleased to have confirmed that we will be using one 4* hotel and one 4* superior hotel, both located within a short walk of each other for ease of tour management. The hotels are in the Old City with a wealth of shops, a tram stop, highway (for stadium transfers), and the World famous Grand Bazaar all within close proximity. The standard of the hotels is good, with friendly English-speaking staff. Traditional Turkish massage and pools are also on site, giving a real taste of the mix of East and West. Right on the doorstep is a wide range of restaurants, clothes, jewellery and food shops, and the Metro is just a short walk away.

Hotel Royal Istanbul – Tour Leader Hotel
Istanbul Royal Hotel offers a very high standard for the rating and price, and offers 128 rooms in the heart of Istanbul. Each of the hotel’s rooms boasts satellite TV and good free WiFi.

During our inspection trip, we were met by the extremely friendly and English-speaking manager who was proud to show us the facilities. These included a wonderful roof-top bar and restaurant boasting views across the city and sea, traditional Turkish baths on site, and the well appointed rooms.

A large reception (complete with bar), ample parking and being just a 20-25 minute transfer from the stadium makes the Hotel Royal an ideal tour base for the Championships. It also has the added bonus of being so close to so many of the sights, including the Grand Bazaar and incredible Blue Mosque. Room upgrades to Superior Rooms and Junior Suites are available; please contact us to discuss.



Ataturk is Istanbul’s main airport where our chosen airlines, British Airways and Turkish Airways fly into, and is our airport of choice for the World Indoor Championships. Ataturk is located 15 miles west of Istanbul city centre, and approximately a 30-minute coach journey from our chosen hotels. Airport/hotel transfers are included in our set tours. If you are travelling into/out of Ataturk away from our set tours, please contact us for a private transfer price.

The budget carriers fly to a separate airport located in the Asian part of the city, a considerable distance away, and we have been advised that transfers can take well over three hours depending on traffic. Therefore, we do not recommend using this option.


Athletics Stadium

The Atakoy Arena is a dedicated athletics stadium; the first of its kind in Turkey. It is located next to the established multi-sports arena known as the Sinan Erdem Dome (where warm-ups and administrative duties will take place). The arena will have almost 5,500 public seats and a total capacity of around 7,500 and is located approximately 25 minutes from our hotel, and a 15-minute walk from the nearest tram. It is also located within a 10-15minute drive of the airport. The Atakoy Arena is in a densely populated residential area next to one of the city’s highways and there are no hotels within walking distance.



Istanbul has a great Metro System, ideal for exploring the city; trains are efficient and are a cost-effective way of getting around. A single journey costs 2TL or approximately 70p. Each tram is always extremely full and travels in the middle of roads, so make sure you look both ways when crossing! Police and ambulances use the tram lines as a quick route to accidents and emergencies. The port and the spice market are approximately 12 minutes away, the Bazaar is the next stop from our hotel, and the Blue Mosque two stops further, while the Stadium requires a change and can take between 35-45 minutes (not including 15 minute walk at the other end). We will of course provide maps and instructions for this for this journey.



The Turkish monetary unit is the Turkish Lira, abbreviated to TL. One British Pound is equivalent to approx 2.8 TL. Euros and US Dollars are taken at most shops and hotels. ATM machines (cashpoints) are readily available and dispense local Turkish Lira, US Dollars and Euros. There are a large variety of banks throughout the city centre, and our chosen hotels offer exchange rates that are competitive.



Istanbul enjoys hot, humid summers and a mild(ish) winter. However, being sea-encircled, the cold air and wind can make it feel much cooler. In March, the worst of the winter has passed and daylight hours are longer (until 7 or 7.30pm), but still expect temperatures to range from a low of 5°C to 15°C. “Four seasons in one day” is a common phrase with warm and cold airs pushing across the sea in spring.



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