Top 35 Places to visit in Istanbul

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Best things to do in Istanbul and sightseeing in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia - Istanbul

Don't judge the exterior, Its intricate interiors will leave nothing to imagination.
Ruchika Makhija

529 Followers, 160 Reviews


On the other side, it’s a pleasant walk up a hill to Hagia Sofia, the famous mosque that used to be a church.
Elena

183 Followers, 29 Reviews


This is a really interesting structure in the sense that it has served both as a mosque and a church over hundreds of years. And today, it has been turned into a museum and is a true reflection of the Byzantine architecture.
Aseem Rastogi

238 Followers, 6 Reviews


Topkapi Palace Museum - Istanbul

The Topkapi Palace was the primary residency of the sultans. It is a complex with heaps of buildings a huge garden area overlooking the Bosporus. I was impressed when I entered the first room and couldn’t believe that the rooms were getting more impressive the more you see. There are classy decorated domes and mosaics, simply splendid! The entrance fee is 25 TL for the palace complex. If you want to visit the Harem as well which is the area were the sultan’s family and their servants lived undisturbed, you have to pay another 15 TL. Both is included in the Museum Pass.
Stef

296 Followers, 17 Reviews


The Topkapi Palace (Topkapı Sarayı) is the imperial enclave of the Ottoman emperors for four centuries. It is lavishly decorated and houses some of the Prophet Mohammed’s belongings. (Opening times are Monday, Wednesday to Sunday between 09:00 and 17:00. Entry is 25 TL. Harem is 15 TL)
Jacqui Monorey

184 Followers, 9 Reviews


Sauntered in and out of various parts that make up the palace, looked up historical references and fell in love with the intricate tile work.
cookydoh

166 Followers, 5 Reviews


Galata Tower - Istanbul

Walking down Istikal street we got to Galata tower- a great monument of old times and it’s surrounded by a lot of restaurants and Turkish tea rooms.
Elena

183 Followers, 29 Reviews


It is a medieval 9 storey cylinder shaped tower offering beautiful views of Istanbul and Sea of Bosphorus.
Aseem Rastogi

238 Followers, 6 Reviews


The Galata Tower is on the other side of the city. From up there you have a stunning view of the Bosperus, a lot of sights in Sultanahmed and of course the area around the Galata tower. The entrance fee amounts to 20 TL which is a bit much in my opinion and another negative fact is that there is not much space up there and you always have to squeeze by the other people.
Stef

296 Followers, 17 Reviews


Sultan Ahmed Mosque - Istanbul

And right across it is the Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque, still in use today and if you want to go inside you have to go in barefoot and with a scarf on the head if you’re a girl.
Elena

183 Followers, 29 Reviews


Also popularly known as the Blue Mosque. The Blue Mosque is situated in Sultanahmet. You can enter for free when you dress appropriately (see 8 Lessons learned in Istanbul). The mosque is closed during the prayers.
Stef

296 Followers, 17 Reviews


The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: Sultan Ahmet Camii) is a historic mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is still popularly used as a mosque. This mosque is beautiful, not only from outside but the interior too. Everything look so peaceful and reconcile. Do avoid visiting at prayer time or within a half hour after the azan is chanted from the Mosque minarets because mosque closes for 90 minutes at each prayer time.
Sharon Phang

266 Followers, 30 Reviews


Topkapı Palace - Istanbul

A wondrous palace in Sultan ahmat, close to the Blue mosque.
Ruchika Makhija

529 Followers, 160 Reviews


On that same hill is Topkapi Palace which takes up pretty much the entire hill and I only got to see the entrance because it was closed. But I imagine it’s a real life Sultan’s Palace on the inside.
Elena

183 Followers, 29 Reviews


This palace was one of the main seats of the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s. Today, it is a famous tourist attraction overlooking the Sea of Marmara and Bosphorus. The tourists can get a sneak peak into the life of the Ottomans by visiting the Harem quarters, looking at the porcelain ware as well as taking in the entire architecture. It has also been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Aseem Rastogi

238 Followers, 6 Reviews


Taksim Square - Istanbul

So I started my walk from Taksim square where my hotel was located, and went to see Gezi park that’s on Taksim.
Elena

183 Followers, 29 Reviews


And lest we forget, there is also the New Year Party Fireworks which people view from the famous Taksim Square around the Golden Horn and the beautiful cruise on the Bosphorus. As the cruise crosses the first and reaches the 2nd bridge, one would get a unique chance to spend the early moments of the New Year on the crossroads between Asia and Europe.
Aseem Rastogi

238 Followers, 6 Reviews


From clothes to shoes to gadgets… it’s all here. And when you finally do get tired, hop on to the nostalgic tourist tram that runs from Taksim square to Tunnel square.
Bharti Singh

646 Followers, 28 Reviews


Blue Mosque - Istanbul

Blue Mosque was built by Sultan Ahmet I during 1609-1616. It is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets. Due to its magnificent hand-dyed blue, green and white tiles it has been named the "Blue Mosque" by Europeans. The central dome is 43 m in height and is 33.4 m in diameter. There are 260 windows around the mosque.
Guia Privado en Estambul

117 Followers, 11 Reviews


Istanbul is a city rich in history. Formerly Constantinople, and cradle to the Ottoman Empire, it was founded 667 years before Christ and is the only city in the world built on two continents. I indulged in a nice Turkish Bath (not very expensive at about $40 for the whole service, including a massage.) My first stop was Istanbul’s most recognizable landmark, the Blue Mosque. The mosque was built opposite Haghia Sophia (originally a Christian church) to underline the supremacy of Islam over Christian Byzantium. The Blue Mosque gets its name from the blue Iznik tiles that dominate the interior. After leaving the Blue Mosque, I wandered over to the Grand Bazaar. Originally designed as the trading heart of an empire, the Grand Bazaar is a shopper’s delight for carpets, spices, souvenirs, leather goods, you name it. After the bazaar, I wandered around town a little more and ended up down by the Bosphorous waterway which links the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, dividing Europe from Asia (Istanbul sits on both sides of the Bosphorous, hence the “city on two continents” title). There are a number of ferries that run along the Bosphorous linking central Istanbul with outlying towns. It’s a great view from the bridge to watch all of the fishermen lining the railing and the ferries going by below.
Jenny McIver

406 Followers, 124 Reviews


Basilica Cistern - Istanbul

The Basilica cistern is situated right next to the Hagia Sophia and opposite the police station. This cistern was used for the provision of water for the Great Palace in earlier Constantinopel. Right above the cistern was a basilica that’s why it’s called like this. The water within the cistern was brought from Belgrade back then and provided the emperor’s family and household. Sights in istanbul The cistern consists of twelve rows of 28 columns and can store up to 80,000 cubic metres of water. In the back of the cistern you can find two heads of medusa. The entrance fee is 15 TL.
Stef

296 Followers, 17 Reviews


It lies beneath the city of Istanbul. It is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns. It was built 1400 years ago!
Charu Gaur

177 Followers, 10 Reviews


Basilica Cistern (underground cistern) - Istanbul

The Basilica Cistern is a giant underground cistern built by Justinian in 532 to provide water to the city in cases of siege. A wooden walkway floats above the fish filled water and winds between the pillars. Lights and piped music add to the eerie atmosphere and the statues of Medusa are impressive. (Opening times are between 09:00 and 18:30. Entry is 10 TL for non-Turkish citizens.)
Jacqui Monorey

184 Followers, 9 Reviews


A friend who worked in Turkey for a short while said this was probably a severely under-rated place, but most definitely deserved a quick visit. It was a brief walk from the Blue Mosque and a soothingly eerie (if that's a thing!) walkway set up inside what is rightly called "Sunken Palace".
cookydoh

166 Followers, 5 Reviews


Grand Bazaar - Istanbul

The grand bazaar is open only till 7:30 so plan your day accordingly as this place offers many shops to buy souvenirs, lamps etc. Just next to the grand bazaar is an old adda for hukkah. The place is full of people and is filled of hukkah smoke with different flavors. We sat there for few hours having apple flavour hukkah and tea. The hukkah is for 15 lira and each cay (chai) for 1 lira. The place had a beautiful shop for lamps, but as expected expensive. On the main metro/ tram road, there was a shop on left side where I bought my single lamp for 25 lira each for a small size. If you plan to buy lamps, you can set aside a budget of 30-50 Lira per lamp based on the size of the lamp.
Jyoti sharma

366 Followers, 58 Reviews


A trading center since 1461, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, attracting between 250,000 and 400,000 shoppers daily. There are 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops providing one of the most exciting shopping experiences. Here you can buy anything from fashion, jewellery, Turkish ceramics, carpets, textiles and spices. The complex houses two mosques, four fountains, two hamams, and several cafés and restaurants. In the centre is the high domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten. To get there, take a tram to Beyazit, Üniversite or Sirkeci. Alternatively, the Grand Bazaar is around 15 minutes’ walk from the Aya Sofya/Blue Mosque area (Opening times are Monday to Saturday between 09:00 and 19:00. Closed Sundays and bank holidays) Traveller Tip: When shopping at the Spice Market or Grand Bazaar, taste before you buy, buy from a reputable, high-turnover supplier and pay in Turkish Lira.
Jacqui Monorey

184 Followers, 9 Reviews


Spice Bazaar - Istanbul

End this day at Istanbul at a place where fresh aroma of all the exotic spices will entice you to go deeper into the heart of this bustling market. It is no surprise that this is one of the largest bazaars in the city. This place is a pure celebration of local life. This 17th-century Bazaar is open seven days a week. The synchronized aroma from coffee to fresh fish blends in a way you cannot imagine. This is the best place to pick up dried fruits and nuts, spices, olives, Turkish delight, honeycomb and many more items.
Erol Utgun

156 Followers, 11 Reviews


Also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, it is full off mystical smells of different aromas of various spices and shops selling fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish etc.
Guia Privado en Estambul

117 Followers, 11 Reviews


İstiklal Avenue - Istanbul

Eat, Drink and Shop, is the motto of this street. A comfortable tram ride can assure a hassle free experience.
Ruchika Makhija

529 Followers, 160 Reviews


Move along one of the most elegant pedestrian streets- İstiklal Avenue. This is one of the most lively spots in the city as the cobblestone street houses boutiques, music stores, bookstores, art galleries, cinemas, cafés, pubs, restaurants and many more places for you to explore. You shouldn't miss this place if you want to see the Ottoman era buildings and their Neoclassical and Neo-Gothic styles of design.
Erol Utgun

156 Followers, 11 Reviews


Dolmabahçe Palace - Istanbul

Start the day with Dolmabahce Palace as it opens at 09:00. The tourist entrance to the palace is near the palace’s ornate clock tower designed with exceptional masonry. Move further to see the Palace, which is no short of a masterpiece. It is on the European coastline of the Bosphorus strait. The Palace has a great meaning for Turkish people since the supreme leader Ataturk, the' father of the Turks' and first President of the Republic, had used the Palace as a residence and passed away in this palace on the 10th of November 1938 at 9:05 AM. All the clocks in the palace are stopped at this time. The palace has been designed with a plethora of delicate artwork yet somehow has a histrionic quality to it. You shouldn't miss this Palace if you are in Istanbul. Travel tip- The Palace is closed on Mondays and Thursdays. It is open between 09:00 to 17:00. (Ticket office closes at 16:00)
Erol Utgun

156 Followers, 11 Reviews


Dolmabahce Palace was built in the 19th century. It is one of the most glamorous palaces in the world. It was the administrative center of the erstwhile Ottoman Empire when the last of the Ottoman Sultans was residing there. The Dolmabahce Palace is closed on Monday and Thursday.
Guia Privado en Estambul

117 Followers, 11 Reviews


Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Mosque - Istanbul

My next door Mosque which was built in 1562. This is the view from the terrace of the building I stayed in. The view from the bedroom window is magnificent. About the mosque: “Constructed on a steep slope in Sultanahmet, Sokollu Mosque is another fine remnant from master Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. The Mosque was dedicated to Esma Sultan, the daughter of Selim II and wife of Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, of whom the official name was granted to.”
Empty Rucksack Travelers

326 Followers, 5 Reviews


360 Istanbul - Istanbul

The views are breathtaking, the cocktails are great and food is delicious. What more can one ask for in restaurant ?
Charu Gaur

177 Followers, 10 Reviews


Blue Mosque Apart - Istanbul

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is also known as Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built in the 17th century. It has only one main dome.The minarets and secondary domes has the imprints of the Ottoman Empire and the classical Islamic architecture. It is still used as a mosque where people pray. Interiors are spacious and nothing less than magical!
Charu Gaur

177 Followers, 10 Reviews


Bosphorus Cruise Tour - Istanbul

Of course being in a city on two continents, a trip in between the continent shouldn’t be missed. You can do a two hours Bosporus Cruise for 10 TL plus 7.5 TL for a guide. If you are very much into history, please get the guide but if not it is not necessary in my opinion cause we were overstrained with finding out what the guide is talking about (which building) and actually it’s more important to enjoy the cruise and enjoy the areas you’re passing.
Stef

296 Followers, 17 Reviews


Hippodrome - Istanbul

The ancient Hippodrome, scene of chariot races and the center of Byzantine civic life. Of the ornaments which once existed, only three remain: the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Theodosius Constantino. Obelisco is originally an Egyptian piece of art erected in 1547 BC and originally was 60m in height. The German Fountain is also within the hippodrome area; constructed in Germany during the second visit of the German Emperor Wilhelm II to Istanbul, it was imported and officially opened on January 1, 1901. The interiors of the three domes are decorated with gold mosaics.
Guia Privado en Estambul

117 Followers, 11 Reviews


Bosphorus Cruise - Istanbul

If you don't have a history of sea sickness, after lunch get on the cruise Eminönü at 14.30. Popularly known as the Istanbul Strait, Bosphorus forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is recommended that you opt for Şehir Hatları which is Istanbul’s official ferry company. It offers the best Bosphorus tours and unlike some private ferries, won't exploit you. The Short Circle Bosphorus tour is tailor cut for anyone pressed for time. The ferry arrives at Ortaköy around 14:50 and then continue with a two hour non-stop amazing tour. The tour covers Kuleli- Military school in Istanbul, Ortaköy mosques and some medieval fortifications. This tour is to sit back, relax and appreciate the beauty that Istanbul is synonymous with. Travel tip- The price per person is 12 TL. This tour is available every day in summer time (April 1st until October 31st).
Erol Utgun

156 Followers, 11 Reviews


Sultan Ahmet Otoparki - Istanbul

It has free entry but they have namaz from 1-2 during which visitors are not allowed hence plan your visit. Ayefa museum has charges 20 lira tapoki palace charge 20 lira. Separate chamber in the palace has extra charges Arasta bazaar is nice but expensive
Jyoti sharma

366 Followers, 58 Reviews


The Basilica Cistern - Istanbul

Adults as well as kids will enjoy this place.Be prepared for long queues.
Ruchika Makhija

529 Followers, 160 Reviews


Kapalı Çarşı - Istanbul

Very close by is Kapali Carsi, the oldest bazaar in Istanbul which is a closed knot of corridors filled with shops and stalls that radiate colors. Beautiful scarves in vivid colors and almost every spice known to man is there. And the sellers love to bargain.
Elena

183 Followers, 29 Reviews


Archeological Museum - Istanbul

The Istanbul Archaeological museums consist of three buildings with three museums – Archaeological Museum, Ancient Orient Museum, Tiled Kiosk Museum. The former two were built in 1891. The tiled kiosk however dates back to 1473. Few of the things to spot here are- Treaty of Kadesh – It is the oldest peace treaty dating to 13th century BC a copy of which hangs at the UN headquarters. The treaty was agreed upon between Egyptian and the Hittite dynasty after the battle of Kadesh known to be the biggest wars of Lions of Ishtar Gate – The Istanbul Archaeology Museum houses lions, bulls and dragons from the Ishtar gate of Babylon dedicated to Goddess of Ishtar. It was the 9th gate in the ancient city of Babylon constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II. Through the gate ran the Processional Way which was 180 m long and on each side were placed 60 lions each made of glazed bricks. Some of these lions are now in the museum of Istanbul. But most of them are in Berlin where the Ishtar gate has been reconstructed in the Pergamon museum. 3. Oldest Love Poem – 8th Century BC inscription on a tablet from the ancient Babylonian times. The king was required to marry a priestess every year for the fertility of soil and women. The poem is said to have been written by a bride for the king. Shuu Sinn.
Empty Rucksack Travelers

326 Followers, 5 Reviews


Arkeoloji Müzesi - Istanbul

Behind the Hagia Sophia Museum are the Museum of Archeology (Arkeoloji Müzesi), and Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Sarayı). The Museum of Archeology (Arkeoloji Müzesi) contains a large collection of archaeological artefacts including Sumarian tablets, pieces of the wall of Babylon and Roman marble statues. The Treaty of Kadesh from the 13th century BC is also housed here, as well as what was once believed to be the very well preserved sarcophagus of Alexander the Great. (Opening times are Tuesday to Sunday between 09:00 and 17:00. Entry is 10 TL.)
Jacqui Monorey

184 Followers, 9 Reviews


Bosphorus Cruise | Day Cruises | Istanbul Sightseeing - Istanbul

Visit Bosphoruscruise.com or Turkey travel planner to find out more about the best cruise options or to book a cruise.
Bharti Singh

646 Followers, 28 Reviews


New Mosque - Istanbul

The third popular mosque is situated at the Bosporus, opposite the Galata Bridge. The mosque with its nice surroundings creates a unique photography spot.
Stef

296 Followers, 17 Reviews


Sultanahmet Camii (Blaue Moschee) - Istanbul

Just across the green Sultanahmet Park is the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish). This historical mosque is known as the Blue Mosque because of blue tiles lining the interior walls. It was built during the rule of Ahmed I between 1609 and 1616. It is an example of classical Turkish architecture and it is the only mosque that was originally built with six minarets. There is a strict dress code for all visitors. Skin tight trousers, skirts and shorts above the knee will need to be covered and women must wear a head covering. Scarves and long skirts are provided free of charge. Plastic bags are provided at the entrance (free of charge) for you to carry your shoes in while you enter the Mosque. When you are inside the mosque, remain quiet and don’t use flash photography. Being a place of worship visitors should avoid staring or taking picture of those who are praying. (Opening times are May-Oct between 09:00 and 21:00, Nov-Apr between 09:00 and 21:00. The active mosque is closed to non-worshippers for 90 minutes during the five daily prayers and for the midday prayer on Friday. Entry is free.) Traveller Tip: Female head coverings: Place the fabric cover on top of your head with equal portions hanging on both sides. Take one side and wrap it around your neck, tossing it behind your back with covering your shoulders. Don’t cover your face, the covering is meant to hide your hair only. The best view of the Blue Mosque is approaching it from the Sultanahmet, or Hippodrome, to the west.
Jacqui Monorey

184 Followers, 9 Reviews


Galata Bridge - Istanbul

It’s a huge bridge that has restaurants bellow on both ends. When you get to the middle of the bridge the sights to both sides are breathtaking, especially at sunset. And bellow you in the sea, a million tour boats that cruise the Bosphorus. What also gives this bridge it’s character is the large number of fishermen from all ages lined across the railings shouting and chatting.
Elena

183 Followers, 29 Reviews


Taksim Square - 23 Residence - Istanbul

Taksim Square is the heart of modern Istanbul. It is a major tourist area and known for its restaurants, shopping and hotels. It is also the main transfer point for the municipal bus system, the terminus of the M2 subway line of the Istanbul Metro, the nostalgic tram line (NT) on İstiklal Avenue to Tünel and the Fenicular (cable car) to Kabataş. Many protests and demonstrations have been held in Taksim Square over the years. The Taksim Square massacre of 1977 left 36 left-wing demonstrators dead, while two Leeds United fans were stabbed to death here during football riots in 2000. Following these terribly violent incidents, many group protests were banned. New Year’s Eve, Republic Day celebrations, the annual Istanbul Pride and mass-screenings of important football matches are excluded from the ban. Starting in Taksim Square, İstiklal Avenue is an elegant pedestrian high street home to numerous boutiques, stores, galleries, cinemas, patisseries, cafes, pubs and night clubs. Beyond this 1.4km street is a maze of the same, surrounded by late Ottoman era buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. İstiklal Avenue, with its surrounding avenues and alleyways, is sometimes referred to as the Paris of the East, is the modern day center of fine arts and leisure in Istanbul.
Jacqui Monorey

184 Followers, 9 Reviews


Taksim Gezi Parkı - Istanbul

Gezi Park looks like a small green oasis in the middle of a crowded concrete city and it’s a beautiful serene place.
Elena

183 Followers, 29 Reviews


Spice Market - Istanbul

The Istanbul Spice Market was once the largest spice trading venue of the medieval world. Originally the Egyptian Bazaar, it has been used for the last 350 years as a market place for spices, medicinal herbs, incenses and oils. Some stores now emulate Grand Bazaar souvenir kiosks stocking scarfs and homewares. But you can still pick up full bodied spices from most stores. Check out the spices at the authentic Arifoğlu (#31). Other delicacies that you can pick up here are dried fruits and nuts from Malatya Pazari (#40 and #44), Turkish Delight, cheese and Turkish coffee. Özer (#82) is a Boudoir style shop offers hand-woven silk scarves and restored antique female clothes. (Opening times are Monday to Saturday between 08:00 and 18:00 and Sundays between 09:00 and 18:00)
Jacqui Monorey

184 Followers, 9 Reviews


Beylerbeyi Palace - Istanbul

Beylerbeyi Palace was commissioned by Sultan Abdulaziz (1830-1876) and built between 1861 and 1865 as a summer residence and a place to entertain visiting heads of state. The palace, built on a pier by the sea is a two-story structure built on a high brick basement. The palace, the Harem (north) and Mabeyn-i Humayun (the southern part) consisted of offices, three innings, six large living rooms, 24 rooms and 1 bathroom. It is closed on Mondays and Thursdays.
Guia Privado en Estambul

117 Followers, 11 Reviews


Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus - Istanbul

A lovely hotel, all rooms having a balcony and over looking the Bosphorus.
Ruchika Makhija

529 Followers, 160 Reviews


Devrent Agiz ve Dis Sagligi Poliklinigi - Istanbul

Devrent Valley or the Imagination Valley is a valley of nature's own rock sculptures. Small fairy chimneys abound in this valley, with rock formations contorted into various shapes and sizes. Some of these seem familiar as they seem to resemble animals or hands, others are stranger, but everybody has different takes on what one particular rock formation looks like. This arid, rock filled lunar landscape is a place to let your imagination run wild as you try and find familiar faces and shapes in these fairy chimneys.
Zeki Iserio

144 Followers, 18 Reviews


Rumeli Fortress - Istanbul

The Forteleza a monument built in the narrowest section of the Bosphorus covers 30,000 square meters. In preparation for the conquest of Istanbul, the castle was built in about four months in a relatively short period. In some historical documents, it is said that 1,000 masons and workers were employed for construction.
Guia Privado en Estambul

117 Followers, 11 Reviews


Hotels in Istanbul

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Ruchika Makhija Travel Blogger
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