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!
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- 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
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What people are saying about 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.