Top attractions in Istanbul
Top sights 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!
- Turkish Lira (₺)
- Time Zone
- UTC (+02:00)
- Country Code
- Best time to visit
- The 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
Want to discover all there is to do in Istanbul? Click here for a full list.
What people are saying about Istanbul
Very good experience. Got contacted via WhatsApp and explained the drop off location. Device was waiting at our hotel when we arrived. Easy to use and setup. Network was great with reception everywhere and fast speeds. They include a power bank and a charging cable so you can charge the device at home or use the powerbank on the go. After we finished we used the provided packet to put the device back in and left it at reception. Messaged the company on WhatsApp and that’s the end of it. Very very good service and they know English quite well. Also very affordable as everyone can use it at the same time
This was a special experience for me. I had no idea just how beautiful Istanbul really was until i saw it on the water. U can actually see Asia and Europe! I loved how the commentary spoke of the history as well; I learned a lot. The scenery was just amazing and the weather was perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything more. The manager of the tour was also the best. He assisted me with directions and allowed me to have the best possible experience. I recommend this tour to anyone visiting Istanbul. It is a must!!
This was an evening that just got better and better. The food was OK but as ever you dont go on mass dinner events for the food only. The entertainment was varied and excellent especially the dancing manager . All the staff were efficient and friendly, and the hotel pickup/drop off is a great help to those not knowing Istanbul
The tour was great. We had a professional and knowledgeable tour guide that was accommodating and understanding with our time restrictions. He was able to explain everything thoroughly and quickly. Plus we were about to see Asia from the terrace. I would recommend this tour to anyone traveling to Istanbul.
Everything was great. We got picked up by a driver on time and he also returned us to hotel. Food was good, entertainment was excellent and the service was exceptional. We were lucky because the weather was very nice so it was an added bonus.