Top attractions in Istanbul
Istanbul's strategic location between Europe and Asia on the ancient Silk Road has made it one of history's most important cities. A list of its points of interest would be long enough to bridge the Bosphorus, so here's a top 10 to make your itinerary more manageable!
In Hagia Sophia, the immense dome crowning this church turned mosque turned museum was an architectural miracle in its time, although it took a lot of trial and error to get to that point: it collapsed twice!
Also commonly known as the Blue Mosque, the fine İznik tiles adorning this magnificent structure may make it appear bluer than it actually is!
The glorious Dolmabahçe Palace dominates the European shoreline of the Bosphorus where it served as the key administrative center in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire.
Topkapi Palace, the one-time home of many Sultans, not only offers spectacular views of the city, but also houses treasures that make the Crown Jewels look like Claire's Accessories!
As early as the 1600s, Ahmet Çelebi is said to have flown across the Bosphorus from the top of the Galata Tower. Most visitors will probably be content with the incredible views!
The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest markets on the planet. A constant source of wonder, it's also one of the world's most visited places. Expect crowds at any time!
The stunning Süleymaniye Mosque was built for Suleiman the Magnificent by the great architect Sinan. If you're feeling peckish, Ali Baba across the road might be the best restaurant in town for Turkish beans!
The Spice Bazaar otherwise known as the Egyptian Bazaar was created in 1660 and remains the place to go for spices, nuts, Turkish delight, and other divine tastes and smells!
One of Istanbul's most unusual sights, Roman relics have been reappropriated by Byzantian builders to support this complex system that once brought drinking water into the city.
Perched on top of a tiny islet in the Bosphorus strait, this historic lighthouse was once a watchtower. It now also serves as a popular restaurant and café with splendid views of the city's shoreline.
Istanbul is a cartographical labyrinth with sights and experiences awaiting you round every corner. How long to stay depends on how immersed you want to get, but a week should be enough to cover the most famous attractions.
Havataş Shuttle Buses are available from outside the terminal and leave every half an hour for Taksim between 4:00AM and 1:00AM. Taking a taxi is, however, the most convenient way, and shouldn't be more expensive than the shuttle service between a group of four. Be sure to ignore the hustlers inside the airport and take an official vehicle from the taxi rank at the terminal exit.
The key touristic areas are Fatih and Taksim, and which to stay in depends on the nature of your stay. Fatih is the old town and home to many of Istanbul's historic landmarks. Taksim, on the other hand, is modern and appeals more to those visiting the city to shop, dine, and party. Traveling between the two is simple, so don't worry if you fancy hitting the dancefloors after the Hagia Sophia!
- CurrencyTurkish Lira (₺)
- Time ZoneUTC (+02:00)
- Country Code+90
- Best time to visitThe weather is good at all times of the year, but it may be a good idea to avoid the summer if you do not like extreme heat.
Things to Do in Istanbul
Top Attractions in Istanbul
Cities in Turkey
Other Sightseeing Options in Istanbul
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What people are saying about Istanbul
What a beautiful place great service food wasn’t that great but the tour was wonderful! Guide was good too! Thank you!
For anyone interested in spirituality and the beauty of Islamic music, to watch the Whirling Dervishes as they perform their reverent dance, is a privilege and joy. If you are expecting to be entertained by a show, this is not for you.
We were glad we booked this tour. Very efficiently run by the guide. He was easy to find, we left on time and his commentary throughout was intelligent and informative and with a touch of warm humour. My only complaint is that I would have liked it to be longer.
Visiting Gallipoli has long been something that I have wanted to do to pay homage to our Anzacs and to the Turkish soldiers who fought in this terrible battle. It was long day trip from Istanbul but our guide Burak (whom we met at Gallipoli) was a knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and passionate guide who added so much to the trip. Thank you.
Even though I turned out to be the only person who signed up for Jew Istanbul that day, Ilker gave me the full program, with attention to my interests. It was a most excellent morning for me.