We all know that the most visited place in Ireland is the Guinness Storehouse with just a shade over one million visitors per year. To put that figure into perspective, even the world-famous Blarney Stone receives just 329,00 visitors per annum. But what about the most visited tourist attraction in the world? Any guesses? A lot of potential candidates come immediately to mind such as the White House in Washington, The Vatican in Rome or even the Taj Mahal in India! What about Sydney Opera House, Buckingham Palace in London or Graumans’ Chinese Theatre in LA? Would you believe that the most visited place in the entire world is none other than the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey which boasts an impressive annual visitor count of in excess of 91,250,000 or approximately 14 times the number of tourists that we attracted to the Emerald Isle in 2012. If you are a shopper and more particularly if you enjoy haggling then you’ll think you’ve just died and gone to heaven if you visit the Grand Bazaar — home to over 5,000 traders selling everything from cheap hand-painted Turkish pottery to high end jewellery, rare antiques and everything in between. It is also where you’ll find the best salesmen on earth who are a joy to behold in full flight and who speak more languages than a senior linguist at the United Nations. It’s all under cover so you can go there at any time but be warned, such is the labyrinthine nature of all the alleys and off-alleys and off-0ff alleys that it’s quite easy to get totally lost in its profundity of shops for hours on end. Great bargains are to be had for sure but do your research in advance — particularly if you’re in the market for a big purchase such as a fine carpet, good leather jacket or some expensive jewellery.
91 million! If it was a country, it would be larger than Germany and by far the most populous state in Europe. The news of course is that Istanbul — a world-class and truly amazing city of which the Grand Bazaar is but one of dozens (if not hundreds) of attractions can be experienced — is just slightly over four hours flying time directly from Dublin and is served daily from Dublin by Turkish Airlines who currently offer ridiculously cheap airfares from as low as €189 return. I can honestly say without fear of contradiction that it is by far the best value for money available anywhere at present and one deserving of your attention. London may have more museums than any other city in the world and New York may have more skyscrapers but no city (not even Rome) can boast of more history than Istanbul!