Istanbul
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Top attractions in Istanbul

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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

Very good experience. Got contacted via WhatsApp and explained the drop off location. Device was waiting at our hotel when we arrived. Easy to use and setup. Network was great with reception everywhere and fast speeds. They include a power bank and a charging cable so you can charge the device at home or use the powerbank on the go. After we finished we used the provided packet to put the device back in and left it at reception. Messaged the company on WhatsApp and that’s the end of it. Very very good service and they know English quite well. Also very affordable as everyone can use it at the same time

Istanbul: Unlimited 4G Internet with Pocket WiFi Reviewed by Ibrahim, 10/19/2020

This was a special experience for me. I had no idea just how beautiful Istanbul really was until i saw it on the water. U can actually see Asia and Europe! I loved how the commentary spoke of the history as well; I learned a lot. The scenery was just amazing and the weather was perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything more. The manager of the tour was also the best. He assisted me with directions and allowed me to have the best possible experience. I recommend this tour to anyone visiting Istanbul. It is a must!!

This was an evening that just got better and better. The food was OK but as ever you dont go on mass dinner events for the food only. The entertainment was varied and excellent especially the dancing manager . All the staff were efficient and friendly, and the hotel pickup/drop off is a great help to those not knowing Istanbul

Bosphorus Turkish Night Cruise Reviewed by David, 10/18/2020

The tour was great. We had a professional and knowledgeable tour guide that was accommodating and understanding with our time restrictions. He was able to explain everything thoroughly and quickly. Plus we were about to see Asia from the terrace. I would recommend this tour to anyone traveling to Istanbul.

Everything was great. We got picked up by a driver on time and he also returned us to hotel. Food was good, entertainment was excellent and the service was exceptional. We were lucky because the weather was very nice so it was an added bonus.

Bosphorus Turkish Night Cruise Reviewed by Rania, 10/18/2020