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
Of course this was NOT a religious ceremony. The balance between spirituality (of the services and musicians) and spectacle (for us tourists) was well done. The space is very nice and well adapted for this kind of presentation. The exposition about the sufism and Rumi is interesting. It's possible to have a tea in the entry-zone. It is not possible to take photos of the presentation, even without flash.
I was very unsure about booking this tour but now having seen the length of the queues thank goodness I did. We certainly gained fast entry and skipped the queue. In the short time our guide Haluk had available he gave us all the important information needed to start our tour of Hagia Sophia. Special thanks to him for opening our eyes to this Museum's History and making it such an interesting visit. Highly recommended tour, offering very good value for money.
The trip totally worth the money paid for it. The overall journey was well organised, there were no unnecessary stops. We were picked up from the hotel in time. The guide (Burak) was really great and his explanations were quite informative. I would definitely recommend the excursion to any person interested in the World War I history. At least I got all the answers I had in my mind answered. Our main driver during the trip (Josh) was great and helpful guy as well. My only complaint concerns our driver on the way back to Istanbul (Ali) who was often using his mobile phone during the driving, which is not safe in my opinion.
Amazing night with great performances and Jews of the Bosphorus. Highly recommended and great value!
The Company representative was at the meeting point as advised and the tour tour started promptly. Guide/tourist ratio was good. We got through the gate with relative ease and the pace of the tour was really measured. The Guide took time to explain every key aspect of the history of the place and threw in humour at appropriate times. The tour ended promptly and we were allowed to stay in there and do things at our own pace. Highly recommended.