Top attractions in Istanbul
Top sights 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
Other Sightseeing Options in Istanbul
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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.
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.
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
Mehmet was an amazing guide, he took to all of the top tourists area. He was very knowledgeable about the history of Turkey. He even took me pictures, and was very friendly.