Istanbul, Turkey embraces a mix of European and Asian tradition and guests will sense the contrasts with every flip. If there’s one metropolis that may actually declare the title of being the gateway to each Europe and Asia, it’s Istanbul.
To essentially discover and perceive the tradition and power of town one would wish months and even years however we’ve highlighted our favourite issues to do in Istanbul from our 4 totally different visits. Straddling two continents, Istanbul is a metropolis divided by the slender waterway often called the Bosphorus.
Prime Issues to do in Istanbul, Turkey
Throughout our time in Istanbul, we witnessed younger urbanites embracing the fashionable world whereas others cling to conventional values of the Byzantium interval and the Ottoman Empire. These are all of the issues to do in Istanbul to benefit from your keep.
Istanbul Journey Ideas
To get to and from the airport, we took TransferExpert.com. Their companies had been skilled and pleasant! It was good to have an indication with our title on it ready for us once we landed on the hectic airport.
Most of the high issues to do in Istanbul are inside strolling distance. And whereas exploring the outdated city, one of the best ways to get round is by strolling. From the Previous City to crossing the Galata Bridge, there’s no higher strategy to get round Istanbul.
An excellent journey tip is to get an Istanbul Museum Move to skip the road to well-liked museums like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Harem, Nice Palace Mosaics and extra well-liked museums in Istanbul with the guided tour app. Try this go right here.
A go to to Istanbul will ignite your senses. it is without doubt one of the most fun cities to go to in Europe and these are the most effective issues to do in Istanbul to benefit from your keep.
1. Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is taken into account probably the most stunning buildings on the planet and is certainly probably the most well-liked issues to see in Istanbul. It was as soon as a church and a mosque however is now probably the most visited museums on the planet. We didn’t go inside on our first journey to Istanbul, however we realized we had been lacking out so we made positive to go in throughout our second go to to Istanbul. The inside of Hagia Sophia can be a must-see in Istanbul.
For 916 years it was a church after which following the conquest of Sultan Mehmed, Hagia Sophia was transformed right into a mosque and remained so for 482 years. In 1935 it was transformed right into a museum. IN 2019, Hagia Sophia was simply transformed again right into a mosque however like most mosques, it’s open to the general public and you’ll nonetheless go inside to see its mosaics, calligraphy, tiles, and the Sultan’s lodge.
E book this entry to Hagio Sophia with a guided tour. Meet your native information beginning with a brief historical past of the Previous Metropolis. The tour explains the thriller of this vital monument each for the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires.
- Opening Hours: April to October: 9am to 7 pm day by day November to March – 9am to 6pm. (closed on Mondays)
- Free entry to Hagia Sophia with museum go or 72TL if paying on the entrance.
- Tram cease – Sultanahmet
2. Blue Mosque
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is Istanbul’s most well-known mosque in Istanbul and is certainly one of many high issues to do in Istanbul. A go to to town wouldn’t be full with out laying eyes on its magnificence.
It’s recognized by its extra frequent title, The Blue Mosque due to the blue tiles surrounding the partitions of its inside. The Blue Mosque remains to be a functioning mosque however guests can enter in the event that they observe the foundations. Lengthy pants must be worn and girls should have their shoulders and heads coated. Positioned within the outdated metropolis, it’s the right strategy to begin your day earlier than transferring on to the opposite sights close by.
This highly-rated tour takes you on a 4-hour introduction to town of Istanbul. Your licensed skilled tour information will take you to Hagia Sophia Museum, the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome, and the Grand Bazaar, to seek for valuable handmade carpets, jewellery, leather-based, and souvenirs.
3. Grand Bazaar
Among the finest issues to do in Istanbul is to get misplaced within the huge Grand Bazaar. Inside strolling distance from the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, and Topkapi Palace it’s only a brief stroll down the road that takes you to the Grand Bazaar. This is without doubt one of the most fun purchasing experiences you’ll ever have. There are greater than 5,000 outlets within the Grand Bazaar protecting 60 streets.
The Grand Bazaar was an vital buying and selling middle relationship again to the fifteenth century. I can solely think about the way it as soon as was with merchants coming in from Asia and Africa bringing their unique gadgets for retailers to peruse from Europe. Spending a day dropping your self within the large labyrinth that homes Mosques, hammams, cafes, and jewellery stalls makes this considered one of Istanbul’s high sights.
An effective way to see all the major sights within the outdated metropolis is to e book this tour beginning within the Sultanahmet district at Hagia Sophia. You’ll then uncover the Basilica Cistern relationship again to the sixth century earlier than venturing into the Grand Bazaar and its 4000 outlets that promote carpets, silks, ceramics and extra.
You’ll want to go to the Spice Market in Istanbul as effectively. This metropolis was an vital cease on the spice route and the Spice Bazaar is just not removed from the Grand Bazaar.
- Hours: 10 am to 6pm
- Tram Cease – Beyaz?t – Kapal?çar?
4. Süleymaniye mosque
The Süleymaniye mosque stands on the third of the seven hills that overlook the Golden Horn. Whereas the Blue Mosque is probably the most well-known of Istanbul mosques, the Süleymaniye mosque is without doubt one of the most putting within the metropolis skyline. The biggest mosque in Istanbul, it was constructed throughout the Ottoman empire of the sixteenth century however the Sultan of Suleyman.
This tour takes you off the crushed path in Istanbul to not solely see the Suleymaniye Mosque however you’ll additionally benefit from the historical observe of hookah whereas sampling Turkish pastry known as borek earlier than heading over to the Spice Bazaar. This tour additionally takes you to the Church of St. George.
- 8 am to 9:30pm
- price: free
- Tram Cease – M2 to Vezneciler
5. Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace was the summer time residence of the Ottoman Sultans and is a superb place to go to in Istanbul to see the lavish life-style of the rulers. It has a white marble exterior and an opulent inside crammed with artwork, priceless vases, fountains, and crystal chandeliers.
You will get there by ferry or you probably have a hop on hop off boat tour, it is without doubt one of the stops. It is a nice tour to discover the historic websites alongside the Bosphorus. It begins at Emirgan the place you’ll go to an 18th-century mosque, Emirgan Park, and Sabanci museum. The boat then goes to the Asian aspect of Istanbul to see the royal pavilions of Kucuksu, then Beylerbeyi Palace, and Beylerbeyi Mosque earlier than making your strategy to the final cease at an area market at Bsiktas Sq. earlier than hopping on the tram again to Taksim.
6. Hippodrome of Constantinople
When strolling by means of Istanbul, I couldn’t assist however sing the tune “Istanbul is just not Constantinople.” However as a matter of truth, it was! Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine empire. Positioned only a brief stroll from the Blue Mosque is the Hippodrome of Constantinople. An historical stadium that held 100,000 folks gathering to observe chariot races and horse racing.
The Egyptian obelisk survived the years together with a sculpture of three-headed serpents. Obelisk of Theodosius
At this time it stands on the Sultan Ahmet Sq. and is the historic coronary heart of the outdated metropolis. A guided tour of the Hippodrome is nice in case you are a historical past buff and need to study extra about this fascinating neighborhood.
7. Partitions of Constantinople
The Partitions of Constantinople had been largely intact till the Nineteenth century once they had been dismantled. However surprisingly many are nonetheless intact. There are a lot of locations to see the outdated metropolis partitions as they’ve been present process restoration for the reason that Eighties. The tower within the Wall of Constantinople is without doubt one of the finest locations to see its stays. This Byzantine tour alongside the Golden Horn takes you on a journey to find Constantinople earlier than the Ottoman conquest. You’ll stroll alongside the outdated metropolis partitions and gates and uncover a lot extra exterior of the Previous Metropolis of Istanbul.
8. Galata Tower
Throughout the Galata Bridge crossing the mouth of The Bay of Istanbul you’ll discover considered one of Istanbul’s high sights, the Galata Tower. It’s situated on the North Financial institution of the Golden Horn and you possibly can take excursions up it to view town overlooking the Bosphorus from its remark deck. It has considered one of Istanbul’s finest views of the Bosphorus and isn’t to be missed.
The Galata Tower presents the most effective panoramic views of town, the Bosphorus, and is a wonderful vantage level to gaze upon Previous Istanbul. Till the 1960’s it was a watchtower for metropolis fires, however right now it’s open to vacationers to stroll round its balcony close to the highest of the 67 meters (220 ft) excessive tower. Take a strolling tour of the Taksim and Galata neighborhoods the place you’ll study of the Galata Tower, Tunnel Sq. (second oldest metro on the planet), and Dervish Lodge as you stroll by means of its bustling markets and outlets.
- Opening Hours of Galata Tower: 9 am to 7 pm
- Value: 35 TL
9. Bask in Turkish Delight
There’s a terrific sq. on the base of the Galata Tower the place you possibly can get pleasure from some Turkish Delight whereas folks watching on the terrace. However you possibly can choose up Turkish Delight anyplace in Istanbul. Be sure to present it a attempt. Dave hates it, however I like it. Nevertheless, I’m a fan of Huge Turk chocolate bars right here in Canada.
10. Stomach Dancing and Whirling Dervishes
The Galata Tower itself is 9 tales excessive with a restaurant café and nightclub the place you possibly can watch a Turkish present full with Stomach dancing and whirling Dervishes. If you wish to soak up an Istanbul present, there’s nothing cooler than seeing gifted Stomach Dancers and Whirling Dervish do their factor.
The 1001 Turkish Nights Efficiency will choose you up at your lodge the place you’ll drive alongside the Bosphorus to your dinner and present. You’ll get pleasure from music, a Fasil orchestra and stomach dancing. It contains your alternative of wine, gin, vodka, Raki or beer.
The Istanbul Metropolis Move provides entry to 30 sights together with a whirling dervish present in Hodjapasha Hamam
11. Istiklal avenue
Visited by practically 3 million folks day by day, Istiklal Road is the beating coronary heart of town of Istanbul. This 1.4 km lengthy pedestrian walkway homes every little thing from cinemas to nightclubs and boutiques to cafés. If you’re searching for locations to go to in Istanbul at night time, it is a good spot to start out.
It’s additionally on Istiklal Road that we tried our first Turkish Delight treats and acquired some much-needed medicine from the pharmacies. In the event you don’t really feel like strolling, you possibly can take the historic tram all the way in which to Taksim Sq. to view the monument of the republic.
- In a Hurry? E book this tour of Istanbul. This personal strolling tour could be tailor made to see the highest Istanbul sights starting from 1 to three days.
12. Topkapi Palace
One of the vital iconic locations to go to in Istanbul. A tour of Topkapi Palace is a should. It’s not solely crammed with historical past, it’s also stunning. Go inside to view the attractive mosaic tiles and ornate treasures from the Ottoman Empire. The Topkapi Palace Museum has a group of books in its library outlining the historical past and tradition of life right here from 1478 to 1856. Get a skip the road ticket that features a guided tour of the Viewers Corridor, Excessive Court docket, Historic Kitchens, and The Treasury.
The executive middle of the Ottoman Empire, was additionally house to the Ottoman Sultans making this lavish palace is an interesting tour by means of time. Be sure to go to the Harem, house to the palace concubines. It was additionally the dwelling quarters of the Ottoman sultans so it’s should go to addition to the fundamental entry payment.
13. Archaeological Museum
This tour presents Skip the ticket strains to enter the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, and Basilica Cistern with native host. The passes are good for 3 days so you possibly can select to go to all 3 museums in 1 day, or the three of them individually on totally different days. As soon as contained in the museum, your native host will provide you with recommendations on the right way to uncover the museums in one of the best ways.
- Opening Hours: Wednesday-Monday: 9 am to 7pm (from November to march 9 am to 5pm) Closed on Tuesdays.
- Value: 72 TL (word this doesn’t embody the Harem) To e book the Harem, it’s one other 42 TL)
14. Eat with the Locals
Consuming in Istanbul is a feast for the senses and to really recognize the delicacies, it’s essential to be a part of a household for an genuine native expertise. It begins by assembly a household and studying about their lifestyle. After which the feast begins with an array of small dishes often called mezze. Mezze platters embody pita bread with hummus, cacik, and tabbouleh salad. Essential dishes embody kebabs and consider it or not pizza! The feast ends with Turkish delight and candy tea.
15. Go to a Native Household
You possibly can e book many eating experiences in Istanbul and one of the best ways is to spend time with an area household. We joined two totally different native excursions in Istanbul, was with the “Different Tour” The place we met our information’s mother and we additionally booked one by means of Get Your Information the place we had a non-public information take us to see Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque at night time.
Insider Istanbul Tip:
In Istanbul, you’ll typically meet pleasant those who invite you for dinner. The folks of Istanbul are very pleasant and even should you don’t go to their house, you’ll typically end up sitting down for tea and changing into quick associates. To essentially expertise Turkish meals and tradition e book this high rated tour that takes you on a meals and tradition tour of Istanbul meals adopted with dinner at an area household’s house.
16. Ortakoy – The place to go in Istanbul for Nightlife
One of many metropolis’s finest locations for nightlife is within the Ortakoy neighborhood. Our information instructed us that Madonna and different well-known celebrities like to social gathering in Ortakoy. As soon as a fishing village, this district is now the world for upmarket stylish searching for a spot to social gathering. The waterfront is crammed with bars and golf equipment and that is the place the hip younger professionals of town hang around.
Istanbul is house to each conventional and fashionable methods of life and the distinction between the 2 cities is immense. To essentially expertise Istanbul it’s essential to spend a while in Ortakoy. Dave and I clearly didn’t hang around right here late into the night time as we’re neither hip nor younger, however we did take a stroll by means of town and had a glass of wine!
17. Ortakoy Mosque
Ortakoy Mosque is one other stunning mosque in Istanbul that’s price a go to. Positioned straight on the Bosphorus it may be reached by ferry. Visiting this space provides you a really feel for native life in Istanbul. There are a lot of eating places and occasional outlets across the mosque which you can sit again and calm down in after visiting. Be sure to decorate appropriately when visiting any mosque in Istanbul.
18 Sip Turkish Espresso
If there’s one factor that we needed to attempt in Turkey, it was Turkish Espresso. We’d had it all around the world, however to have it in its nation of origin was past heavenly. It takes nice preparation to make this tiny little cup of caffeine, however the effort is price it because it’s probably the most scrumptious and wealthy blends of espresso you’ll ever have.
Scorching tip: Don’t drink it to the final drop although, the underside of the cup is crammed with espresso grinds. (the key ingredient maybe?) Wish to discover extra meals and tradition? Istanbul Meals and Tradition Tour takes you on a strolling tour by means of 2 Continents as you discover Turkish meals and tradition.
19. Stroll Throughout the Galata Bridge
It was straightforward for us to do our day by day stroll throughout the Galata Bridge throughout our first go to to Istanbul. We had been staying proper close to it in an condo rental. It is a stunning place to soak up the most effective Istanbul view of the Blue Mosque, views of the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn. Maintain a watch out for rows of pleasant fishermen who’re glad to speak as households stroll throughout taking within the views. It’s a terrific spot for reasonable eats, particularly a scrumptious fish sandwich.
20. Cruise the Bosphorus
You will need to go to the Asian aspect of town when visiting Istanbul! A cruise of the Bosphorus presents stunning views of the Istanbul skyline together with the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia and totally different views of the Bosphorus from the opposite aspect. We took a yacht cruise to soak up the sights, and this cruise takes you on a 2.5-hour boat cruise of the Bosphorus Strait takes you handed town’s landmarks and monuments together with the Galata Tower and the Dolmabahçe Palace, each the Asian and European Coasts and a cease on the Nineteenth-century Küçüksu Palace which was the searching lodge of the Ottoman Empire.
Maintain a watch out for the Maiden’s Tower. Also called Leander’s Tower, the Maiden’s Tower stands on a small island within the Bosphorus. A construction has been on this island for the reason that third century BC, however this present tower dates again to the 1700s. Guests can cease right here to get pleasure from some Turkish meals whereas taking in views of town and browsing its museum.
If you’re searching for issues to do in Istanbul at night time, e book this Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Leisure for a night view of town of Istanbul and a enjoyable Turkish expertise.
21. Take the Native Commuter Ferry
If a cruise isn’t within the playing cards and you might be searching for a extra inexpensive possibility, hop on the commuter ferry for the possibility to pop over to the Asia aspect of Istanbul. How typically are you able to go to two continents in a matter of minutes and never even need to undergo customs?
We popped over to Asian Istanbul after a scenic cruise testing the shores of each North and South. A very good cease close to the port is Kanlica, well-known for its thick yogurt with honey.
22. Basilica Cistern
Head underground to tour the Basilica Cistern. The Basilica cistern is barely one of many metropolis’s cisterns, there are a whole lot of cisterns underneath Istanbul however it’s the largest. Cisterns had been used to retailer water however right now you possibly can tour it. Positioned only a brief stroll from Hagia Sofia, there are artwork displays, a fortress of columns, and two medusa heads performing as a base. What’s up with that?
23. Play a Sport of Backgammon
When strolling by means of town, you’ll see many older gents enjoying video games. The sport of alternative is Backgammon and it’s essential to give it a attempt. Search for an area café providing boards to make use of, sit down and order a espresso or tea and play till your coronary heart’s content material. This well-liked sport dates again 5,000 years within the Persian empire and goes robust right now within the metropolis of Istanbul.
- In the event you want somebody to play Backgammon with This Tour it contains a night out of their excursions.
24. Smoke a Hookah
Also called Shisha or waterpipe, Hookah lounges are highly regarded within the metropolis. Hookahs are flavored tobacco smoked by means of a water pipe. It grew to become well-liked in Turkey within the seventeenth century and was a standing image for these within the metropolis. Dave and I are ardent non-smokers, however to go to Istanbul with out giving a Hookah a attempt could be felony.
25. Go to a Turkish Bathtub
You can not go to Istanbul with out experiencing the weirdness and wackiness of a Turkish Bathtub, often known as a standard hammam. Be ready to strip all the way down to your birthday go well with and have strangers vigorously bathe and therapeutic massage your whole physique after a sizzling steam tub. It may be painful, unusual, and heavenly abruptly. You could or might not prefer it, however I can inform you one factor for positive, you’ll always remember it.
In the event you don’t need to take an opportunity of a shady Turkish tub, e book this Turkish Bathtub Expertise that some name one of many metropolis’s finest. The historic Çemberlita? Hamam with a standard Turkish tub together with a scrub and a therapeutic massage. When you end you possibly can spend so long as you want within the Hammam.
26. Istanbul Trendy
If you’re spending a while in Istanbul, it’s possible you’ll need to try the Istanbul Museum of Trendy Artwork (aka Istanbul Trendy). It has develop into a highly regarded museum in Turkey showcasing fashionable artwork by means of everlasting and short-term shows from the twentieth century to right now. There’s a cinema, cafe and a library with greater than 11,500 books.
27. Dolmabahce Palace
Certainly one of Istanbul’s most stunning historic websites is Dolmabahce Palace. It was Turkey’s first European-style palace and so they went all out. It’s a massive palace on the water crammed with gold and crystal. It’s definitely an over-the-top palace, however that was for a motive. It was constructed to cover the truth that the Ottoman Empire was falling. As soon as constructed, it was newer than Topkapi Palace so the Sultan moved to get pleasure from its extra fashionable luxuries.
This guided tour takes you thru the biggest palace of the Ottoman Empire the place you’ll study of the variations between Dolmabahçe and Topkapi Palaces. Be sure to look as much as see its ornate ceilings with Baccarat and Bohemian chandeliers together with the most important Bohemian chandelier on the planet.
The best way to Get Round Istanbul
Istanbul is a busy and vibrant metropolis and one of the best ways to get round is by tram. It’s inexpensive, quick, and simple. We hopped on the tram to take us in all places from the outdated metropolis to Taksim Sq., took Ubers, and booked Switch Professional from the airport. However in our opinion, one of the best ways to find Istanbul is on foot. Lose your self in Sultanahmet, discover the streets of Constantinople, and get misplaced within the Grand Bazaar.
The place to Keep in Istanbul
There are a lot of nice locations for lodging in Istanbul. These are three locations that we stayed, however we additionally stayed in a number of condo leases in Istanbul as effectively.
- Swissotel The Bosphorus – This five-star luxurious lodge proper is within the centre of Istanbul on the European banks of the Bosphorus. It’s a good location for exploring Istanbul with a rooftop pool and free WiFi. Try Availability & Costs at Reserving.com/Journey Advisor
- Sura Hagia Sophia – Positioned in Sultanahmet, this 5-star lodge is completely located to all the principle sights. The lodge additionally presents a well-designed backyard with a sexy pool space and Free Glad Hour. Try Availability & CostsReserving.com/Journey Advisor
- Elite World Europe Resort – Located near the airport, this newly-opened lodge presents luxurious at funds costs. Good for a layover or to keep away from Istanbul visitors you probably have a flight leaving within the early morning hours. Try Availability & Costs Reserving.com/Journey Advisor
And these are all of the issues to do in Istanbul that we suggest. It is without doubt one of the most fun cities on the planet and should you get an opportunity to go, remember to spend at the very least every week exploring each the outdated and new cities. There are such a lot of issues to do in Istanbul, you’ll want to return time and again.
What did we miss? We’ve visited Istanbul 3 times and nonetheless, I do know there’s a lot extra there, I’m positive you have got some favourite issues to do in Istanbul that we didn’t get an opportunity to do ourselves.