Top Things To Do In Istanbul Including Travel-guide, Attractions, Restaurants, Cheap Hotels, Good Places To Visit.
11.Cruise on the Bosphorus
13.“Istiklal Caddesi” Street
14.Enjoy a relaxing afternoon in a Hamam or Turkish bath
16.Go out to dinner
17.Hippodrome of Constantinople
18.Tower of the Maiden
19.Church of San Salvador in Chora
Istanbul is a must for us on any trip to Turkey, as it will almost certainly be your gateway to the country if you arrive by air. This vibrant city, half Asian half European, is a true wonder and worth exploring in detail.
Today we tell you about 20 things to do in Istanbul and experiences.
The Blue Mosque is the most important in Istanbul. It is actually called “Sultanahmet Camii Mosque”, but it is better known as the Blue Mosque due to the thousands of blue tiles that decorate the interior dome of it. In addition, inside you can see huge stained glass windows, huge chandeliers, columns, and spectacular rugs.
On the outside, it is not far behind. Its 6 minarets with its beautiful dome in the middle, make it especially beautiful to visit at any time of the day and even at night when they illuminate it super things to do in Istanbul.
It is located in Sultanahmet and the entrance is free (like all the mosques in the city, not the churches that charge entrance). Although it opens every day, it must be taken into account that it closes to tourists during hours of worship, usually, they put a sign on the door advising what time it reopens. It is best things to do in Istanbul go there in the morning.
Important: to enter they must take off their shoes, and in addition, they must wear appropriate clothing. This is covered shoulders and knees, both men and women. Women also have to cover their heads and hair, so wearing a scarf is super useful.
The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
Also in Sultanahmet and in front of the Blue Mosque, is the Hagia Sophia, actually called “Ayasofiya”. This masterpiece of Byzantine art was built between the years 532 and 537 as a church, and later it became a mosque, for which 4 minarets were built that it still conserves today. Currently and since 1935 it works as a museum.
It is also super cute on the outside, its dome being without a doubt something to highlight. Inside it is a beauty, you can visit both levels, the main room being striking with its huge columns and giant medallions. Also on the upper floor, you can see super old mosaics of great historical relevance, and through the windows also a beautiful image of the Blue Mosque.
It opens every day at 9 am, and the closing hours vary. It has summer hours from April to October, which closes at 7:00 p.m., and in winter from November to March, which closes at 5:00 p.m. Admission is 60 liras. It is also recommended to arrive early.
Hagia Sophia Museum, Istanbul, Turkey
This tower is close to Taksim Square and Istiklal pedestrian street. It is one of the oldest in the world, and its fame or greatest interest things to do in Istanbul is not because it is extremely tall or enormous (it is only 61 meters high), but because of the tremendous width of its stone walls, which have nothing more at their base. and no less than 3.7 meters wide. Impressive! Then they are refined, having a width of 20 cm at the top.
It was built in 528 as a lighthouse, and in 1348 it was rebuilt in stone. The windows give away the width of the walls, and it's really amazing things to do in Istanbul.
You can climb to the top, where there is an open-air viewpoint with tremendous 360 views of the things to do in Istanbul. We loved that the viewpoint is open, despite the horrible weather we linked haha Because it allows you tremendous views without reflections or glass to take photos.
On this top floor, there is also a cafeteria from where you can enjoy a delicious coffee or cappuccino with views. The tables by the windows are requested, so you have to have a little patience. As against, the windows overlook the viewpoint, so when people are circulating through it they cover your entire view, but from time to time you can enjoy the same hehe.
On the outside, it is also super cute things to do in Istanbul! Especially from the surrounding streets that lead to the tower. A beauty.
It opens every day from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and admission costs 25 liras. As the first two places on the list, this is also one of the most visited things to do in Istanbul, so we recommend you go early and/or armed with patience.
As you can see, we did not go in the best weather, but we were still able to enjoy things to do in Istanbul and see a little of those views of the city that are surely even more beautiful in the sun. Even though the weather was horrendous, we had to queue, so patience is really recommended.
Galata, Beyoğluİstanbul, Turkey
Istanbul has many cisterns, the best known and most visited is the Basilica Cistern, very close to the Hagia Sophia.
This cistern was built to supply the Byzantine palace in case the city was attacked, back in the years 527 to 565 in the time of Justinian I. It is 140 meters by 70 meters, and it is estimated that it could store about 100 thousand cubic meters of water. Several aqueducts are still standing, and although there was a basilica on top today this part is not preserved. It is visited by a system of walkways.
Inside it also has more than 300 columns, some of which have a medusa head at their base, something curious and striking.
It opens every day at 9:00 a.m. and closes at 5:30 p.m. in winter and 6:30 p.m. in summer. Admission is 20 lira.
basilica cistern. istanbul
This mosque is, along with the Blue Mosque, one of the most important things to do in Istanbul. It was built by the order of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1550 and is the largest active mosque in the city. It is said that at the time it even competed with the Hagia Sophia.
It is close to the Grand Bazaar area, we could not finally visit it and we were left with the desire since as the weather did not help at all although we stayed 4 nights we moved very slowly and at times the storm forced us to stay still ( a lot of rain, cold and on top to complete the panorama, wind), but if we returned we would definitely visit things to do in Istanbul.
They say its interior decoration is very beautiful and the gardens too, there you can see the tombs of Suleiman el Magnifico and his wife.
It opens every day from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and like the Blue Mosque, it closes its entrance to tourists during prayer times. Admission is free.
Süleymaniye, Fatihİstanbul, Turkey
Your visit to Istanbul is not complete without visiting and vibrating the largest bazaar not only in the city but in the world. The Grand Bazaar is a mega-market with about 4000 stores, which receives up to 400 thousand visitors a day. Total madness.
The stores sell everything you can imagine. Clothes, imitations of famous brands, watches, purses and bags, jewelry and gold in general, typical lamps that are a real beauty, carpets, ornaments, handicrafts, souvenirs, Lokum (Turkish delight or Turkish delight), all kinds of sweets and sweets, spices, nuts, and the list goes things to do in Istanbul. There are also small cafes where you can have a cay or Turkish tea and rest your legs while enjoying seeing that chaos a little more comfortable.
It opens from Monday to Saturday, from 8:30 to 19:30, closed on Sundays. Admission is free. Even if you are not going to buy anything, we recommend the visit, we loved it and we thought that it is without a doubt things to do in Istanbul.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
The Spice Bazaar is near the Galata Bridge and is also known as the Egyptian Bazaar. It is a place where you will be able to find, as the name says, spices, but also other types of products such as nuts.
It is open every day, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The Galata Bridge is the most famous things to do in Istanbul and is located in the heart of the Golden Horn, linking the area of what would be old Istanbul with the modern area.
It is almost 5 blocks (490 meters) long, and crossing it is crossing from one continent to another, which is why it is picturesque. Also, if you are lucky with the weather, walking around the things to do in Istanbul, full of fishermen, is one of the things to do in Istanbul. In addition, when crossing it they can enjoy the Skyline of the city at sunset.
This palace is another of the things to do in Istanbul that we loved, and that for us is a must in Istanbul. In fact, we were surprised, since we did not expect us to like it so much. This imposing palace is the place from which the sultans ruled their empire until the middle of the 19th century (when they moved to the Dolmabahce Palace).
It has 700 thousand square meters, and the visit is super interesting things to do in Istanbul. You can visit places such as the old kitchen, weapons room, museum, stables, and different rooms, all with their explanation in English. In several of these enclosures, you cannot take photos. The gardens are also super beautiful, you will go through them while leaving one area or building and entering the other.
In addition to these things to do in Istanbul, you can visit the Harem, which has a separate cost. You pay once inside the palace, there is a ticket office to enter this area. In this place, the sultan lived with his family and a group of women of high cultural level (his harem), for which the queen mother was responsible.
This visit is ideal to do the same day as the Blue Mosque and/or the Hagia Sophia, always depending on how they handle the times and the wait they have to enter each things to do in Istanbul. Take a couple of hours to explore it calmly, because it is worth it. From our point of view, it is worth paying the separate entrance fee to get to know the Harem.
It is open every day except Tuesday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in winter (November to March) and until 7:00 p.m. in summer (April to October). The entrance fee is 60 lire, and the harem costs 35 lire more, that is, in total if you visit both places it is 95 lire per person.
Also to this place the recommendation is to go early, especially in high season, although we went in the afternoon and had no problem. The Harem is one of the most visited things to do in Istanbul, so it is surely convenient for you to go to this place first and then visit the rest.
Topkapı Palace, Turkey
This palace replaced the Topkapi Palace as the residence of the sultans in 1853, and it remained in that function until 1923. In this year, after the republic, it was assigned to the service of Ataturk and became his summer residence. After his death, it became a museum, which is how it remains today.
It is located on the European side, on the banks of the Bosphorus. It has 15 thousand square meters, and say 300 rooms, which apparently makes it the largest building in Turkey. It also has a Harem that can be visited by paying a separate entrance.
It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in winter, and 4:00 p.m. in summer. Closed on Mondays. Admission costs 30 lire, plus 20 extras to enter the Harem.
This is one of the best-known and touted things to do in Istanbul. There are many companies that offer these cruises, most last about an hour, and usually depart from the Eminonu pier. They offer views from a totally different perspective of many iconic places, such as Dolmabahce Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Topkapi Palace, among others. Some allow you to get off to watch the sunset from the Asian side.
But, if they are not like cruises, there is a much lower cost option: take a ferry that goes to the Asian area, punctually to Uskudar. The trip lasts approximately 15 minutes, and it will allow you to enjoy the views and the experience for the price of a normal ticket!
Cruise on the Bosphorus
Taksim Square is one of the nerve centers of the city, it is a place where famous public events to demonstrations have been held, and it is located in the modern part of the city. It is a good combination to visit with Istiklal Caddesi Street that we are going to mention below, and with the Galata Tower since they are quite close.
This pedestrian street begins in Taksim Square and is also in the modern part of the things to do in Istanbul. It is a pedestrian street full of shops of all kinds, including shops of the best-known brands but also typical or local places. It also has a good offer of restaurants, bars and typical fast food places (such as Keababs in several of their presentations).
In the pedestrian area, you will also be able to see the famous trams, which are also picturesque a nice way to get around this part of the city.
This area along with Sultanahmet (where the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are) is one of the most recommended to stay, as it is full of hotels, bars, restaurants, and shops. At night there are restaurants and bars with music and live shows.
A Hamam or Turkish Bath is not a place full of pools or a spa, but things to do in Istanbul that combines what would be a kind of ritual of hygiene and relaxation, with socialization. It is traditional and is linked to the Arab world.
That said, Istanbul has many Hamam that today are more intended for foreign and not local audiences, that is, tourists. This obviously has pros and cons.
Among the points in favor are that the "treatment", if you want, is more foreign-oriented (more a spa wave, relaxation), that there are mixed (that is, you can go as a couple, family or friends, and you don't have to enter separately) and the experience itself is designed to know what a Hamam is. Also, the buildings where many of them are situated were old traditional Turkish baths, and that's interesting things to do in Istanbul. Also as a plus point, as they are more intended for tourists, many include bathing suits and everything you need to wear in the place, you don't have to bring anything.
On the other hand, it is not a one hundred percent traditional Turkish bath experience, that is, you are not going to live with Turks but with other tourists or travelers who like you want to try the experience and get to know those things to do in Istanbul that were once traditional.
Most require a prior reservation that can be done via the web, and there are several different treatment options, based on which prices vary. But for you to have a reference, they are around 25 USD per person.
The best known or recommended are Aga Hamam (in the Taksim area, it is one of the most historical, dating from the year 1454), Camberlitas (also one of the oldest and most historical, it is not mixed), and Hamam Cagaloglu (traditional but a little more modern than the previous one, it is from the year 1741 and they say it was the last historical Turkish bath built in Istanbul).
Another well-known one is the Suleymaniye Hamam, which is mixed.
hamam or turkish bath istanbul
This Mosque is in the Ortaköy neighborhood, on the western bank of the Bosphorus. It is not the largest or most magnificent, but for many, it is the most beautiful things to do in Istanbul. It was built between 1854 and 1856. It has two minarets much taller than its dome, and a lot of detail in its decoration and construction.
The area is much less touristy, and it is off the more traditional circuit, so it is an interesting visit if you have several days in the city or want to know a place not so visited. The entrance, as in the case of the other mosques that we mentioned, is free.
One of the things to do in Istanbul we enjoyed the most in Turkey was its food, and Istanbul is obviously no exception.
Turkish Food, in general, is a delight, and dining out is apart from this a super picturesque and recommended experience things to do in Istanbul. The whole area of Sultanahmet, Taksim Square, and Istiklal Street are full of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious dinner and try typical dishes.
This square has a huge obelisk, and things to do in Istanbul of passage through the main tourist spots, including the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. In fact, today there is not much left of what was in its time the Hippodrome of Constantinople, except for some commemorative monuments that the enclosure wore.
The most important of these things to do in Istanbul is the Obelisk of Tutmosis III (Egyptian pharaoh), but you can also see Theodosius die, the column of Constantino Perfirogeneta, the serpentine column, among others. In this area, you can also see the Basilica Cistern, with its curious jellyfish.
Also known as Leandro's Tower, it is one of the oldest buildings in the city and is located on an islet in the middle of the Bosphorus, approximately 200 meters off the coast of Uskudar.
Throughout history, it had many uses, from a castle or lighthouse to a quarantine hospital, warehouse, and military station, and finally converted in 1998 into a restaurant with a museum, and a cafeteria on top. Nowadays it can be accessed by ferry, and it is one of the most romantic places in the city, where many marriage proposals are usually made.
Tower of the Maiden
This church is said to be one of the largest representations or exhibitions of Byzantine art and was built between 1316 and 1321. As with Hagia Sophia, it was converted into a Mosque and then opened as a museum in 1948.
It is not among the most visited things to do in Istanbul, and it is far from the most common circuit, so it is a good option if you have more days in the city. The cost is 45 lira, and it is open every day from 9:00 to 17:00 in winter and 19:00 in summer.
church of san salvador in chora istanbul
It is a fortress on a hill, built by Mehmed the conqueror between 1451 and 1452, and is according to those who know one of the most important examples of military architecture.
It opens from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day except Wednesdays, although we recommend checking the schedules well since we do not get to visit the place.
Obviously, these are just 20 tthings to do in Istanbul, but surely there are many more!
rumeli hisari istanbul