Istanbul
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Top attractions in Istanbul

See all tours & things to do in Istanbul

Top sights 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

Outstanding Experience, strongly suggested! Our guide "Matt" was very friendly and fond of all the details regarding the magnificent architectural and historical marvels of Istanbul. He picked me and my partner from the "Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul" on a sunny 25 degrees October morning at 08:30am in the lobby. Due to COVID19 the group was very small, 3 people. The absence of tourists had a very positive impact on our daily schedule: We had the 15th century Topkapi Palace with its Ottoman treasures all for ourselves gently walking in the sun across the magnificent park with stunning panoramas of the Bosphorus. We then visited the secular 537AD worldwide known Hagia Sophia, the Sultan Ahmet Türbesi graves, the colourful Hand-painted blue tiles of the 15th century Blue Mosque and The Hippodrome of Constantinople with its columns. Lunch at a cozy local restaurant and then shopping at Bazar. All at a walking pace with no rush and time to feel the holiness and history of these sites.

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day Reviewed by Gabriele, 11/07/2020

I saw the whirling dervishes on tv when I was young and when I decided to visit Istanbul I knew this was something I really wanted to do. The performance is set in a beautiful subterranean space aglow in soft blue lighting that also serves as a restaurant. Also, due to COVID, the restaurant is temporarily closed. The show itself is mesmerizing and I was amazed that the dancers could spin so fast and for so long while staying in one place. The music accompanying the dancer’s routine is quite beautiful. One thing I would have enjoyed is a bit of commentary before the performance on the history of the dervishes.

Istanbul: Live Whirling Dervishes Experience Reviewed by Ron, 11/23/2020

What an experience! Spending the day with my fantastic guide Nafia was more than I could ask for. Sine it was only the two of us, She showed me sites within Ephesus which she isn’t normally able to do with large groups. Her knowledge of this ancient city was impressive and I learned so many interesting facts throughout the day.

Ephesus Full Day Tour from Istanbul Reviewed by Ron, 11/27/2020

It was truly the best part of my vacation. The arrangement was timely, the guide Ali was wonderful, gave us all the interesting facts regarding turkey and the area. He was Well versed in history to give the details of Hierapolis. Thank you so much this wonderful experience. It was worth it and it was my best day in turkey :)

We asked them to arrange a birthday cake to surprise our friend ,,, everything was arranged and with Turkish birthday music ,,, it was very spacial ,,, Mr Tolga was very helpful and friendly

Istanbul: Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Entertainment Reviewed by Anonymous, 10/31/2020