Istanbul
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Top attractions in Istanbul

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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

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

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

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, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What people are saying about Istanbul

Comprehensive, well presented and worth it

Even though it is a long day, it doesn’t feel like it, and it was certainly an excellent way to see and hear the Gallipoli stories. Our guide was good (Burkhan)

Gallipoli Full-Day Tour from Istanbul Reviewed by a GetYourGuide customer, 13/09/2018

It was Very good!! Nice, interesting and beautiful Palace.

The guide was fantástic; she explained everything in a interesting was. She was amazing.

One of the best guided experiences I have ever had!

This guided walk was the highlight of my visit to Istanbul. The enthusiasm and flexibility of the guide were genuinely commendable. I could not have asked for a more committed guide, we set off at 0900 and finished at about 1800. We walked, rode in trams, the funicular (cable) cars, sat and drank tea among the old Turkish men, visited the Hagia Sophia Mosque, drank coffee at the Federal Galata coffee shop and walked through large bazaars and markets. Interestingly, one of the more memorable things we did was to explore several Han. These are two or three storey buildings, which house small workshops for artisans. If you are thinking about a visit to Istanbul, then I wholeheartedly recommend using this organisation. Also, despite the world political situation, I found Istanbul to be a safe city, where no more than the usual security issues of travelling seemed to exist.

Amazing culture , truly heartfelt experience of our history

The drivers were punctual, the guide Guray was friendly and informative, lunch provided was excellent. We appreciate the Turkish people, the deep history that still influences us as human beings. It was so amazing .

Ephesus Day Trip from Istanbul including Flights Reviewed by a GetYourGuide customer, 10/08/2018

Should not be missed. Excellent experience.

This was a wonderful experience. I would recommend this to all tourists. I would suggest to have booking well in advance to get front row seats.

Istanbul: Dervishes Ticket Reviewed by Abdul, 15/07/2018