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Istanbul
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Top attractions in Istanbul

See all tours & things to do in Istanbul

Top 10 things to do 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!

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

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!

Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Also commonly known as the Blue Mosque, the fine İznik tiles adorning this magnificent structure may make it appear bluer than it actually is!

Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace

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

Topkapi Palace

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!

Galata Tower

Galata Tower

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!

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

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!

Süleymaniye Mosque

Süleymaniye Mosque

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!

Spice Bazaar

Spice Bazaar

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!

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

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.

Maiden's Tower

Maiden's Tower

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.

Planning Your Istanbul Visit

How many days?

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.

How to get from the airport to the city?

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.

Where to stay?

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!

Good to know

  • Language
    Turkish
  • Currency
    Turkish Lira (₺)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+02:00)
  • Country Code
    +90
  • 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

Hagia Sofia is like a mother of Istanbul

Surprisingly that the tours start sharp and no delay is foreseen- big respect to organization in one of the chaotic and super haptic city!!! Our guide Adim (Adam for international tourists) was very young, but knowledgeable and very enthusiastic young man. Deep knowledge with interesting, sometimes funny inputs made our tours unforgettable. We also had a chance to meet the local star - cat named Gli Definitely recommend to all who want to learn facts in 1h life tour and not only appreciate the beauty of the museum on several centuries and religions.

Good value for your money and a must in Istanbul.

Cards delivered to our hotel as promised. The tour guides were excellent with the Museum Pass and very knowledgeable and friendly. The Istanbul card easy to use on the public transport all over the city. I recommend to everybody to get these cards, they make your life a lot easier. 10/10 Thank you!

İstanbul Welcome Card Reviewed by Timo, 10/01/2019

Informative, concise delivery of the history & knowledgable guide.

The guide managed our group well and the crowds at the museum. He was well educated on the location and conveyed clearly to a diverse group. After two weeks of travel in the Middle East I felt he captured the history of the location accurately with a very concise delivery.

Hagia Sophia: Skip-the-Line Ticket with Guided Tour Reviewed by Anonymous, 10/08/2019

From the water, to better understand Istanbul

As with every city or destination with an "ocean" front, the view from the water shows you a totally different physiognomy of Istanbul. Embark form Europe and being able to disembark in Asia is a very unique experience. If you have the time, is a must.

Istanbul: Hop-On-Hop-Off Bosphorus Boat Tour Reviewed by Alejandro, 10/15/2019

Interesting tour by a knowledgeable guide.

It's only a brief tour, with not a lot to see. However the guide knew all about the history of the basilica, and it was very interesting. Shame that so much of it is under renovation and no water is in it. But still worthwhile seeing.