Istanbul, Turkey embraces a combination of European and Asian tradition and guests will sense the contrasts with every flip. If there may be one metropolis that may really 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.
High Issues to do in Istanbul, Turkey
Throughout our time in Istanbul, we witnessed younger urbanites embracing the trendy 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 profit from your keep.
Istanbul Journey Suggestions
To get to and from the airport, we took TransferExpert.com. Their companies have been skilled and pleasant! It was good to have an indication with our identify on it ready for us after 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 And whereas exploring the outdated city, one of the simplest ways to get round is by strolling. From the Previous City to crossing the Galata Bridge, there’s no higher option to get round Istanbul.
An incredible journey tip is to get an Istanbul Museum Go to skip the road to standard museums like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Harem, Nice Palace Mosaics and extra standard museums in Istanbul with the guided tour app. Try this cross right here.
A go to to Istanbul will ignite your senses. it is among the most enjoyable cities to go to in Europe and these are the most effective issues to do in Istanbul to profit from your keep.
1. Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is taken into account one of the lovely buildings on this planet and is unquestionably one of the standard issues to see in Istanbul. It was as soon as a church and a mosque however is now one of the visited museums on this planet. We didn’t go inside on our first journey to Istanbul, however we realized we have been lacking out so we made certain 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.
Ebook this entry to Hagio Sophia with a guided tour. Meet your native information beginning with a quick historical past of the Previous Metropolis. The tour explains the thriller of this necessary 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 cross 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 unquestionably 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 identified by its extra widespread identify, 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 comply with the principles. Lengthy pants must be worn and ladies will need to have their shoulders and heads coated. Situated within the outdated metropolis, it’s the proper option to begin your day earlier than shifting 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 treasured 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 quick stroll down the road that takes you to the Grand Bazaar. This is among the most enjoyable 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 necessary buying and selling middle courting 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 big labyrinth that homes Mosques, hammams, cafes, and jewellery stalls makes this one in every of Istanbul’s high sights.
A good way to see the entire principal 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 courting again to the sixth century earlier than venturing into the Grand Bazaar and its 4000 outlets that promote carpets, silks, ceramics and extra.
Remember to go to the Spice Market in Istanbul as properly. This metropolis was an necessary cease on the spice route and the Spice Bazaar is just not removed from the Grand Bazaar.
Hours: 10 am to 6pmTram 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 essentially the most well-known of Istanbul mosques, the Süleymaniye mosque is among the most putting within the metropolis skyline. The most important mosque in Istanbul, it was constructed in the course of the Ottoman empire of the sixteenth century however the Sultan of Suleyman.
This tour takes you off the overwhelmed 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 referred to as borek earlier than heading over to the Spice Bazaar. This tour additionally takes you to the Church of St. George.
8 am to 9:30pmcost: freeTram Cease – M2 to Vezneciler
5. Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace was the summer season 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 may get there by ferry or in case you have a hop on hop off boat tour, it is among 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 facet of Istanbul to see the royal pavilions of Kucuksu, then Beylerbeyi Palace, and Beylerbeyi Mosque earlier than making your option to the final cease at a neighborhood market at Bsiktas Sq. earlier than hopping on the tram again to Taksim.
6. Hippodrome of Constantinople
When strolling by Istanbul, I couldn’t assist however sing the music “Istanbul is just not Constantinople.” However as a matter of reality, it was! Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine empire. Situated only a quick stroll from the Blue Mosque is the Hippodrome of Constantinople. An historical stadium that held 100,000 individuals 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 present 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 if you’re a historical past buff and wish to be taught extra about this fascinating neighborhood.
7. Partitions of Constantinople
The Partitions of Constantinople have been largely intact till the Nineteenth century after they have been dismantled. However surprisingly many are nonetheless intact. There are various locations to see the outdated metropolis partitions as they’ve been present process restoration because the Nineteen Eighties. The tower within the Wall of Constantinople is among 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 one in every of Istanbul’s high sights, the Galata Tower. It’s positioned on the North Financial institution of the Golden Horn and you’ll take excursions up it to view town overlooking the Bosphorus from its remark deck. It has one in every of Istanbul’s finest views of the Bosphorus and isn’t to be missed.
The Galata Tower gives 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 toes) excessive tower. Take a strolling tour of the Taksim and Galata neighborhoods the place you’ll be taught of the Galata Tower, Tunnel Sq. (second oldest metro on this planet), and Dervish Lodge as you stroll by its bustling markets and outlets.
Opening Hours of Galata Tower: 9 am to 7 pmCost: 35 TL
We stayed in an house trying proper at this tower and it was breathtaking. That is one other superb house with views of the Bosphorus. You’ll be able to see them each on VRBO.
9. Take pleasure in Turkish Delight
There’s an amazing sq. on the base of the Galata Tower the place you’ll be able to get pleasure from some Turkish Delight whereas individuals watching on the terrace. However you’ll be able to choose up Turkish Delight wherever in Istanbul. Be certain that to provide it a strive. Dave hates it, however I adore 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’ll be able to watch a Turkish present full with Stomach dancing and whirling Dervishes. If you wish to absorb an Istanbul present, there may be nothing cooler than seeing proficient 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 Go offers entry to 30 sights together with a whirling dervish present in Hodjapasha Hamam
11. Istiklal road
Visited by almost 3 million individuals day by day, Istiklal Avenue is the beating coronary heart of town of Istanbul. This 1.4 km lengthy pedestrian walkway homes the whole lot from cinemas to nightclubs and boutiques to cafés. In case you are in search of locations to go to in Istanbul at night time, it is a excellent place to begin.
It’s additionally on Istiklal Avenue that we tried our first Turkish Delight treats and purchased some much-needed treatment from the pharmacies. In the event you don’t really feel like strolling, you’ll be able to take the historic tram all the way in which to Taksim Sq. to view the monument of the republic.
In a Hurry? Ebook this tour of Istanbul. This non-public strolling tour may be tailor made to see the highest Istanbul sights starting from 1 to three days.
12. Topkapi Palace
One of the crucial iconic locations to go to in Istanbul. A tour of Topkapi Palace is a should. It’s not solely crammed with historical past, additionally it is lovely. 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 Courtroom, Historic Kitchens, and The Treasury.
The executive middle of the Ottoman Empire, was additionally dwelling to the Ottoman Sultans making this lavish palace is an interesting tour by time. Be certain that to go to the Harem, dwelling 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 gives Skip the ticket traces to enter the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, and Basilica Cistern with native host. The passes are good for 3 days so you’ll be able to 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 methods to uncover the museums in one of the simplest ways.
Opening Hours: Wednesday-Monday: 9 am to 7pm (from November to march 9 am to 5pm) Closed on Tuesdays.Price: 72 TL (be aware 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 actually recognize the delicacies, you need to be 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. Foremost dishes embody kebabs and imagine it or not pizza! The feast ends with Turkish delight and candy tea.
15. Go to a Native Household
You’ll be able to e-book many eating experiences in Istanbul and one of the simplest ways is to spend time with a neighborhood 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 Get Your Information the place we had a personal information take us to see Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque at night time.
Insider Istanbul Tip:
In Istanbul, you’ll usually meet pleasant folks that invite you for dinner. The individuals of Istanbul are very pleasant and even in the event you don’t go to their dwelling, you’ll usually 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 a neighborhood household’s dwelling.
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 informed us that Madonna and different well-known celebrities like to celebration in Ortakoy. As soon as a fishing village, this district is now the world for upmarket stylish in search of a spot to celebration. The waterfront is crammed with bars and golf equipment and that is the place the hip younger professionals of town hang around.
Istanbul is dwelling to each conventional and fashionable methods of life and the distinction between the 2 cities is immense. To essentially expertise Istanbul you need 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 town and had a glass of wine!
17. Ortakoy Mosque
Ortakoy Mosque is one other lovely mosque in Istanbul that’s value a go to. Situated instantly on the Bosphorus it may be reached by ferry. Visiting this space offers you a really feel for native life in Istanbul. There are various eating places and low outlets across the mosque that you may sit again and chill out in after visiting. Be certain that to decorate appropriately when visiting any mosque in Istanbul.
18 Sip Turkish Espresso
If there may be one factor that we wished to strive 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 value it because it’s one of the scrumptious and wealthy blends of espresso you’ll ever have.
Sizzling tip: Don’t drink it to the final drop although, the underside of the cup is crammed with espresso grinds. (the key ingredient maybe?) Need to discover extra meals and tradition? Istanbul Meals and Tradition Tour takes you on a strolling tour by 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 have been staying proper close to it in an house rental. It is a lovely place to absorb the most effective Istanbul view of the Blue Mosque, views of the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn. Preserve an eye fixed out for rows of pleasant fishermen who’re completely happy to speak as households stroll throughout taking within the views. It’s an amazing spot for reasonable eats, particularly a scrumptious fish sandwich.
20. Cruise the Bosphorus
You need to go to the Asian facet of town when visiting Istanbul! A cruise of the Bosphorus gives lovely views of the Istanbul skyline together with the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia and totally different views of the Bosphorus from the opposite facet. We took a yacht cruise to absorb 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 looking lodge of the Ottoman Empire.
Preserve an eye fixed out for the Maiden’s Tower. Often known as Leander’s Tower, the Maiden’s Tower stands on a small island within the Bosphorus. A construction has been on this island because the 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.
In case you are in search of 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 in search of a extra reasonably priced possibility, hop on the commuter ferry for the prospect to pop over to the Asia facet of Istanbul. How usually are you able to go to two continents in a matter of minutes and never even should undergo customs?
We popped over to Asian Istanbul after a scenic cruise trying out the shores of each North and South. A great 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 simply one of many metropolis’s cisterns, there are a whole bunch of cisterns underneath Istanbul however it’s the largest. Cisterns have been used to retailer water however right now you’ll be able to tour it. Situated only a quick stroll from Hagia Sofia, there are artwork reveals, 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 town, you’ll see many older gents enjoying video games. The sport of alternative is Backgammon and you need to give it a strive. Search for a neighborhood 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 standard 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
Often known as Shisha or waterpipe, Hookah lounges are very fashionable within the metropolis. Hookahs are flavored tobacco smoked by a water pipe. It turned standard 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 strive can be prison.
25. Go to a Turkish Bathtub
You can’t go to Istanbul with out experiencing the weirdness and wackiness of a Turkish Bathtub, often known as a conventional hammam. Be ready to strip right down to your birthday swimsuit and have strangers vigorously bathe and therapeutic massage your whole physique after a scorching steam bathtub. It may be painful, unusual, and heavenly . It’s possible you’ll or could not prefer it, however I can inform you one factor for certain, you’ll always remember it.
In the event you don’t wish to take an opportunity of a shady Turkish bathtub, e-book this Turkish Bathtub Expertise that some name one of many metropolis’s finest. The historic Çemberlita? Hamam with a conventional Turkish bathtub together with a scrub and a therapeutic massage. When you end you’ll be able to spend so long as you want within the Hammam.
26. Istanbul Fashionable
In case you are spending a while in Istanbul, you might wish to try the Istanbul Museum of Fashionable Artwork (aka Istanbul Fashionable). It has turn out to be a very fashionable museum in Turkey showcasing fashionable artwork by 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
One in all Istanbul’s most lovely historic websites is Dolmabahce Palace. It was Turkey’s first European-style palace they usually went all out. It’s a massive palace on the water crammed with gold and crystal. It’s actually an over-the-top palace, however that was for a purpose. 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 be taught of the variations between Dolmabahçe and Topkapi Palaces. Be certain that to look as much as see its ornate ceilings with Baccarat and Bohemian chandeliers together with the most important Bohemian chandelier on the planet.
Easy methods to Get Round Istanbul
Istanbul is a busy and vibrant metropolis and one of the simplest ways to get round is by tram. It’s reasonably priced, quick, and straightforward. We hopped on the tram to take us in all places from the outdated metropolis to Taksim Sq., took Ubers, and booked Switch Skilled from the airport. However in our opinion, one of the simplest 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 various nice locations for lodging in Istanbul. These are three locations that we stayed, however we additionally stayed in just a few house leases in Istanbul as properly.
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 excellent location for exploring Istanbul with a rooftop pool and free WiFi. Try Availability & Costs at Reserving.com/Journey AdvisorSura Hagia Sophia – Situated in Sultanahmet, this 5-star lodge is completely located to all the principle sights. The lodge additionally gives a well-designed backyard with a lovely pool space and Free Blissful Hour. Try Availability & PricesBooking.com/Journey AdvisorElite World Europe Resort – Located near the airport, this newly-opened lodge gives luxurious at finances costs. Good for a layover or to keep away from Istanbul site visitors in case you 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 among the most enjoyable cities on this planet and in the event you get an opportunity to go, you’ll want 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 many times.
What did we miss? We now have visited Istanbul 3 times and nonetheless, I do know there may be a lot extra there, I’m certain you’ve some favourite issues to do in Istanbul that we didn’t get an opportunity to do ourselves.