15 Places to Visit in Istanbul

Located at a strategic point between the Asian and European continents, Istanbul is Turkey's educational, cultural, artistic, commercial...

Located at a strategic point between the Asian and European continents, Istanbul is Turkey's educational, cultural, artistic, commercial, industrial and tourism center. With a population of 16 million (population in 2023), Istanbul is also the most populous city in Europe.  One of the world's  oldest cities, Istanbul was the capital of many civilizations,  from the Roman Empire to the Ottoman Empire.  With numerous  historical relics sacttered throughout the city, Istanbul is a museum in itself.  Many natural and historical destinations, especially archaeological sites,  mosques, museums, parks and gardens  are must-see places.  Here are 15 Places you should visit in Istanbul...

1. Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia in the Sultanahmet district was once  a church and museum and is now a mosque.  It is one of the world's structures and is recognised as the 8th wonder of the world. Learn more  about the history of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires.  Admission to Hagia Sophia is freeas it now functions as a mosque.  Don't miss the stunning architecture and artistic treasures. 
15 Places to Visit in Istanbul
Hagia Sophia

2. Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque was built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I from 1609 to his 1617.   It  got its nickname from the blue Iznik tiles that decorate the interior of the mosque. Known for its stunning blue tiles, this mosque is a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture and a must-see.

3. Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern (Turkish: Yerebatan Sarnıcı) is the largest of  hundreds ancient reservoirs  beneath the city of Istanbul. The Basilica Cistern was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. The cistern, located 150 metres  southwest of the Hagia Sophia on the historic Sarayburnu peninsula. Step underground into this ancient reservoir with atmospheric lighting and Byzantine-era colonnades.  Don't  forget to see Medusa's head in the cistern.

4. Topkapi  Palace
It was built by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. Over time, the palace has undergone numerous expansions.  Until the end of the 19th century, it was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire.  Although it is not used as a palace today, it is one of the must-see museums in Turkey. 
Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
Topkapi Palace
5.  Galata Tower
The Galata Tower was first built by the Byzantine emperor Justinanos in 507-508 AD.   The Galata Tower is one of the most important structures that make up the silhouette of Istanbul and has long served as a fire watchtower. The  Galata Tower was added to UNESCO's  Temporary World Heritage List in 2013. Climb this medieval tower for panoramic views of Istanbul's skyline and the Bosphorus. 

6. Dolmabahce Palace
Dolmabahce Palace is a magnificent palace on the European coast of Istanbul's  Bosphorus.   Dolmabahce Palace  was built by Sultan Abdülmechit I in 1856 to replace  Topkapı Palace.  From the late 19th century through the 20th century, he served as the main administrative center and residence of the Ottoman Sultans. Dolmabhce  Palace has an impressive facade with a symmetrical layout, beautiful gardens, and a waterfront location.  Dolmabahce Palace now function as a museum.

7. Istiklal Street
Istiklal Street (Turkish: İstiklal Caddesi) is one of the most famous and busiest  pedestrian streets in Istanbul, Turkey. Istiklal Street has a rich historical and cultural significance.  The streets are  lined with historic buildings, shops, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, theaters and boutiques, creating a vibrant  cosmopolitan atmosphere. The street is  a mix of architectural styles, including Neoclassical, Art Nouveau and Ottoman-style buildings. This street is also known for its iconic red tram. At the avenue’s northeastern end of the boulevard is the sprawling Taksim Square.

8. Istanbul Archaeology Museums
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums, also known as the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, is a famous museum complex located in Istanbul. This museum complex is located in the Eminonu district of Istanbul, near the Topkapi Palace and Gulhane Park. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums consists of three separate museums of his on site, including the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Tiled Pavilion.  That’s why it’s called plural.  All in all,  Istanbul Archaeology Museums offers a comprehensive exploration of the region's rich history and culture.

9. Spice Bazaar
The  Spice Bazaar,  also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, was built in his 16th century and is lined with stalls selling spices, sweets, tea, dried fruits, and other commodities.  A great place to buy spices, Turkish delights and other souvenirs.

10.  Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is located in Beyazit Square, Istanbul's historic peninsula.  It was built during the Ottoman rule in the 15th century.  The Grand Bazaar is renowned for its diverse range od shops. Here, you can find handicrafts, textiles, leather goods, carpets,  jewellery,  antiques, spices and souvenirs. 
15 Places to Visit in Istanbul
Grand Bazaar
11. Suleymaniye Mosque
The Suleymaniye Mosque  is an important masterpiece of Islamic architecture and the most remarkable of Istanbul's many mosques.  The Suleymaniye Mosque is a mosque built by Mimar Sinan from 1551 to his 1557 in the name of Suleyman the Magnificent.  Stroll through tranquil courtyards, majestic domes, and breathtaking city views. 

12. Chora Mosque (Kariye Camii)
The Chora Mosque (Kariye Camii) is known worldwide for its well-preserved mosaics and frescoes. Important and outstanding  examples of  East Roman painting in its last period.  The Kariye Mosque is located in the Edirnekapi district of Istanbul.

13. Eminonu Square
Eminonu is he one of Istanbul's most famous districts. Eminonu Square always sees a rush and a crowd of tourists.  You can watch the Golden Horn view and eat fish and bread in Eminonu Square.  You can't say you've been to Istanbul without eating fish and bread here. 

14. Maiden Tower 
The Maiden Tower (Kiz Kulesi in Turkish) is a fantastic tower on the sea at the entrance of the Bosphorus, along Uskudar coasts in Istanbul. This open-air museum displays  miniature versions of Turkey's most famous landmarks and historical sites.  Once a watchtower, the Maiden’s Tower today serves as a cafe and restaurant. In addition, various special invitations and events such as weddings, conferences and business lunches are also held here. 
15. Bosphorus Cruise
Take a scenic boat tour along the Bosphorus and enjoy the beauty of Istanbul's coastline as you pass palaces, mansions and quaint neighborhoods.

What to Eat in Istanbul?
  • Lamb Kebab
  • Testi Kebab
  • Pide
  • Köfte (Turkish Meatballs)
  • Döner (Doner Kebab)
  • Balık Ekmek (Fish Sandwiches)
  • Manti


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