Turkey

The 17 Best Places To Visit In Istanbul

We've Rounded Up Travel Bloggers Favorite Places To Visit In Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul… It’s a metropolis that ranks up  there with world class cities the likes of London, Paris, New York or Tokyo. Turkey‘s largest city is a juxtaposition, it’s an eclectic fusion of east meets west, old meets new and Europe meets Asia. It’s the worlds melting pot, and being chock full of attractions, culture and history it’s easy to understand why it’s like nowhere else in the world. With so many unique places to visit in Istanbul we reached out to our fellow travel bloggers to get their take on the best places to visit in Istanbul!

If there’s one city in the world that can claim to be the gateway to Europe AND Asia its Istanbul. Straddling the busy Bosporus strait, the city literally sits on two separate continents joined only by the stringy tendons of bridges and tunnels.

The first time you visit Istanbul it’s an assault on your senses. The sights, sounds & smells can overwhelm even the most prepared traveler. This comprehensive guide of places to see in Istanbul should help you see most of the top tourist destinations in the city without getting sidetracked.

Istanbul Tourist Map

With narrow streets, winding alleys and so many different places to visit in Istanbul it’s easy to get turned around. Never fear,  it’s easy to stay oriented in Istanbul once you grasp the basic layout of the city, when in doubt head for the Bosporous!

We’ve marked all the places to visit in Istanbul that we discuss in this blog on the map to help! With any luck this Istanbul tourist map will keep you pointed in the right direction.

The BEST Places To Visit in Istanbul

There are so many unique places to visit in Istanbul you’ve got to have a plan! Without having a plan when you visit Istanbul it’s extremely easy to get sidetracked. You could easily spend days strolling around Sultanamet alone and miss out on the rest of the amazing things to do in Istanbul!

Our list of places to see while visiting Istanbul is numbered to correlate to the Istanbul tourist map above. Where you stay in Istanbul will undoubtedly influence the areas you visit but each of our places to visit in Istanbul are worth the trek!

1) Explore the Hagia Sophia Mosque

The Hagia Sophia Mosque is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful churches in the world. The Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”) was constructed early in the 6th century & held the title of the world’s largest religious monument for nearly a thousand years.

The building sports buttressed domes and towering minarets, and the interior is adorned with intricate golden mosaics and the symbols of both Christians and Muslims. While founded as a church the Ottomans turned Hagia Sophia into a mosque in the 1400’s when they conquered Constantinople. The building is a living timeline of Istanbul’s religious history.

The building now sits as a public museum and one of the highlights of any visit to Istanbul. Open 9am-5pmduring the winter months and staying open until 7pm in summer the 60tl entrance fee is well worthwhile!

2) Marvel at the Blue Mosque

Istanbul’s Sultan Ahmed Mosque, much more widely known as the Blue Mosque is one of the most amazing places to visit in Istanbul. The blue mosque naming comes not from the exterior of the building but rather the tens of thousands of hand painted tiles that adorn the interior. Varying shades of Turkish blue—or turquoise as it became known—was the sultan’s decree for the decorative touches on the interior and the name just stuck.

The mosque was built with six minarets rather than the typical four, causing an uproar in the islamic community because of a simple misunderstanding. At the time the Sultan had wanted the minarets to be plated with gold to broadcast his empires wealth, but you see the Turkish words for gold and six are deceivingly close in pronunciation (‘Altin’ meaning gold and ‘alti’ meaning six)

While not the intended plan this happy mistake fulfilled the sultans goal and turned the Blue Mosque into one of the grandest and indeed most unique mosques in the world!

The Blue Mosque is an active, operating mosque. Entrance is granted between calls to prayer and visitors must dress appropriately. For both men and women this means no shorts, for women a head covering must be worn (free at the front counter) and of course shoes must be removed before entry! Be a considerate tourist and visit the mosque in a quiet & respectful manor.

3) Wander The Hippodrome

While you’re in the area exploring the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia you’ll no doubt walk through the Hippodrome. Where these once stood a grand horse and chariot track built by the Romans during their occupation of the area you’ll now find only a few remaining relics. One of these, the Egyptian obelisk surviving in amazingly good condition for being over 3500 years old and surviving its own theft from Luxor and transport to present day Istanbul.

Halef & Michael of The Round The World Guys write:

“While visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, don’t forget to step outside to Sultan Ahmet Square. This public square is a popular local hangout, and an often a pass-through tourist route. You can’t miss it, as it is right by the distinguished Egyptian obelisk.

Sultan Ahmet Square marks what’s remained of the once magnificent Byzantine structure of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. The Hippodrome’s rich history can be traced back to the year 324, when Emperor Constantine built a horse-racing track in this very spot. Unfortunately the stadium, with a seating capacity of 100,000 spectators is long gone, but traces of the landmark are still visible to this very day.

places to see in Istanbul hippodrome
The Hippodrome is one of the amazing places to visit in Istanbul!

The modern-day Hippodrome is an elongated public garden. Pay extra attention to the layout of the square – everything is aligned in a horse race track shape, as it was once an ancient sports arena featuring horse races and chariots. You can visit the tourist information booth here, as well as many souvenir stalls and nice restaurants.

Among the restaurants and tourist shops along this public square, there are only a few remaining landmarks of the Hippodrome: The Egyptian Obelisk, the Column of Constantine, the Spiral Column, and the Kaiser Wilhelm II Fountain. All items were very significant to the Hippodrome’s rich history – you can read about their significance at the tourist information boards erected in the public square.”

4) Clean Up At A Turkish Hammam:

If there’s anything that screams Turkey to me it’s the idea of a traditional ottoman hammam. In my mind these Turkish baths are a right of passage for any traveler to visit Istanbul. Strip down, get bathed, get massaged and relax!

Pamela from Travel Like A Cheiff writes:

“There are many places to visit in Istanbul, Turkey but none will leave you feeling as clean and rejuvenated as a traditional Ottoman bath. Right across the famous Hagia Sophia, you’ll find one of the oldest hammam spas in Istanbul that dates back to the 16th century. I’d heard of Turkish baths before but wanted our first experience to be authentic. So before heading to Istanbul, I told my husband that I booked a spa treatment and left out a few crucial details. Sometimes the less you know, the better. And in this case, it was best that he didn’t get all the specifics.

places to visit in istanbul include bathhouses or Hamams
Ornate to Ordinary, Turkish Hamams come in all types.

The Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam is a traditional bathhouse where you can fully immerse yourself in this Turkish tradition. I booked the AB-I HAYAT treatment which is the longest one available. If we were going to do this, we were going to do it right!

A Turkish bath involves cleansing, scrubbing and a massage in a steam room that can reach 60 degrees Celsius. All this is done in a communal bath area while you are accompanied by a hammam attendant. The Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam facilities are impeccable, the service is excellent, and the treatments are like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”

5) Go Underground at the Basilica Cistern:

One of the most interesting places to visit in Istanbul for me was the Basilica Cistern. This marvel of ancient engineering and ingenuity once ensured that the city stayed hydrated but now acts only as an exciting look into the past.

Campbell & Alya of Stingy Nomads write:

“The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul is one of our favorite city attractions, it’s definitely a must visit sight in Istanbul. The Basilica Cistern is the biggest cistern out of hundreds cisterns spread through the city. It was built in 6th century AD in the times when Istanbul, Constantinople then, was the capital city of the Byzantine Empire.

The name “basilica” comes from its location – the cistern was built under a square – the First Hill of Constantinople with a public basilic on it. The size and measurements of the Cistern are impressive; its total area is 9800 square meters, it can hold 80 000 cubic meters of water, the ceiling is supported by 336 columns each 9 meters high. Most of the columns used for the construction are recycled columns that had been used in previous era’s. The columns were brought from different parts of Constantinople which explains why they all  look different.

The Ballistica Cistern is one of the very unique places to visit in Istanbul.
The Ballistica Cistern is one of the very unique places to visit in Istanbul.

Besides the impressive numbers the Basilica Cistern is an incredibly beautiful construction, a strange mix between a Roman temple and an underground reservoir – a forest of the marble columns in the middle of a humid and dark hall that reminds a cave. The Basilica was featured in several movies and TV shows including James Bond “From Russia with Love”. A central location of the Cistern makes it easy to combine a visit here with visiting other major attractions of Istanbul like the Hagia Sophia or Blue Mosque.

6) Relax Like Royalty At Topkapi Palace:

After seeing all these other places to visit in Istanbul you’re no doubt feeling a bit tired. Why not stop in at Topkapi Palace and explore what the lap of luxury was really like for the rulers of the past. With stunning views over the Bosporus its no wonder this site was chosen to build the palace!

Julia of ‘Small World This Is‘ writes:

“The Topkapı Palace was the sprawling residence of Ottoman sultans and their families, and was turned into a museum in 1924. The palace has hundreds of rooms, but only the most important are open to the public today. The museum is divided up into four courtyards, and the Harem.

There are a lot of interesting sights to see on the property, including the Harem, where the Sultan’s mother, wife, children and mistresses lived. The Harem wing is impressive in size and contained more than 400 rooms when it was in use. Another highlight worth checking out is the Hagia Irene, which was the second largest church within the Eastern Roman Empire, after the Hagia Sophia. Other highlights include the Palace Kitchens, the Imperial Treasury filled with royal jewels, and the beautiful outdoor Royal Hall.

Topkapi Palace places to see in istanbul
Topkapi Palace is an ornate sight to see in Istanbul!

Topkapı Palace is situated on a hill overlooking the Bosphorus, and provides stunning views of Istanbul on a clear day. To save time from waiting in line, buy the ticket ahead of time on the museum’s official website. The ticket for the Harem and the Hagia Irene require separate tickets from the general entrance ticket to the palace. Give yourself at least 2-3 hours to visit the entire property. The museum is open every day, except Tuesdays.”

7) See The Whirling Dervish’s:

Unique to turkey if not only to Istanbul the Whirling Dervishs are a unique Islamic religious sect. This is one of the unique places to visit in Istanbul that you shouldn’t pass up. The inexpensive entrance fee, bottomless tea and unique experience make it a great way to spend and evening.

Sarah Carter of ASocialNomad Talks about her experience with the whirling dervishes:

“You’ve probably heard the term Whirling Dervish, but not realized the history and ceremonies behind the name.  Istanbul will put you to rights on that.  The SEMA or Whirling Dervish Ceremony is a unique religious experience and relatively easy to see when you’re visiting Istanbul. 

The Whirling Dervishes are an Islamic sect of Sufism, not a religion as such, but a philosophy and set of beliefs focusing on love, peace and acceptance.  The dance or whirling is a traditional form of Sufi worship.  The twirling with one hand to the sky, reaching for divinity, the other to the ground.  This is part of their form of meditation – as they aim to reach perfection imitating planets in the solar system revolving around the sun.

Their dress too is representational – their felt hat is for a tombstone and their wide white skirt a death shroud.

Istanbul's Whirling Dervishes
Istanbul’s Whirling Dervishes are something unique!

The dervishes whirl and dance to music that is intended to be mesmerizing for them.  Remember this is a form of worship, not a tourist attraction, however, you might also find it mesmerising!  That said you can see them at the Hodjapasha tekke in Istanbul.  Buy tickets either online through the website or via your hotel.    

There is also a ceremony that it’s possible to watch in Galata, and you can see a dervish performance at the Dervish café in Sultanahmet Square.”

8)Chill at Eminönü Wharf :

If there was a center of day to day life in Istanbul I’d hazard to say that the Eminönü Wharf and Galata Bridge would be it. Locals gather here to relax, eat, socialize and fish the Bosporus. Don’t miss the opportunity to try a fish sandwich from one of the boat restaurants!

Val and Nick Wheatley of the Wandering Wheatleys Write:

“If the hectic city of Istanbul has you craving a little peace and quiet, a boat ride on the Bosphorus is the perfect relaxing afternoon activity! This narrow sea channel forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia. So you can depart the boat on either continent or simply see both from the water. And when you get outside of the old city you’ll find that there are darling, hip neighborhoods all along the banks of the strait. 

From the old city it’s just a short tram ride to the Eminönü wharf you’ll find ferries heading to both the Asian and European side of Istanbul. There are dozens of beautiful hotels, palaces, and massive government buildings lining the waterfront so if you choose to stay on the boat you’ll have plenty to see from your seat. It’s a lovely way to get a different perspective on the city! 

places to see in Istanbul bosporus cruise
With all the places to visit in Istanbul a Bosporus cruise can be just the Ticket!

Or, if you’d rather check out the areas where you won’t find many tourists, there are several neighborhoods worth exploring. Hop on the Kadiköy ferry which departs every 20 minutes, it’ll take about 25 minutes to get to the Kadiköy neighborhood on the Asian side of the city. It’s a hipster area filled with quirky art galleries, coffee shops, and bars. The young and slightly emo kids hang out here and it’s a great place to pick up some unique souvenirs. 

Fishing at Eminönü Wharf & Galata Bridge
Fishing at Eminönü Wharf & Galata Bridge

If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, head to the hip, industrial Karaköy neighborhood on the European side of the river. The Istanbul Modern Museum houses an eclectic collection from local artists and the views of the Bosphorus from their darling cafe are spectacular. Be sure to check out the trendy Kılıç Ali Paşa Mescidi Sk. street afterward. Grab a coffee and you’ll watch as the young and hip wander by. You’ll be amazed by how different this scene is compared to the very modest and conservative old quarter. “

9) Explore The Spice Bazaar:

A feast for the senses, the Egyptian Bazaar (or spice bazaar) is one of the must-see places to visit in Istanbul. Walking into the enormous building you’re assaulted by bright colors, amazing scents and delicious tastes. Bring some cash and try your hand at bartering with the locals!

Darlene of Point & Shoot Wanderlust writes:

“Spices are only some of the countless food items you can see, smell, and even taste in the Spice Bazaar. Although smaller than the Grand Bazaar, this one is devoted mainly to food, though other trinkets and inedibles can be seen nowadays. 

The architecture evokes that of the Ottoman-era but from the looks of it, the paint was recently touched up. It is also known as the Egyptian Market and is not only frequented by tourists looking for edible souvenirs or taking part in food tours but also locals looking for ingredients. It also used to be a part of the Silk Road trade and is conveniently located near the Eminonu ferry dock, New Mosque, and Galata bridge. 

Istanbul's Spice Bazaar plcaes to visit in istanbul
Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar is one of the amazing places to visit in Istanbul.

Aside from spices, Turkish delight (lokum), sausages, nuts, seeds, sweets, and dried fruits are some food that will entice you as you walk by. You can also smell coffee near one of the doorways leading outside where you will find the famous coffee shop & roaster, Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi.  After exploring inside, you can also take your time walking and shopping at the outdoor bazaar.”

10) Visit The Galata Tower:

Looking as if the fairy tale of Rapunzel had been brought to life in the middle of Istanbul there’s just something magical about  the Galata Tower. Standing tall at the center of the Galata neighborhood the tower was once used as a lookout post but sits idle as a tourist destination, still, it’s one of the amazing places to visit in Istanbul.

Clemens from TravellersArchive shares a visit to Galata Tower:

“Istanbul is a magic place. Whether it’s the flavours that flow through the cobblestoned alleys, the sounds coming from the mosques or simply the views of the glittering Bosporus and its steaming ferries moving from Europe to Asia day by day.

One thing, we always do when we visit Istanbul is visiting the district Galata, which is basically a cobblestoned hill with alleys that are lined with fruit shops and little kiosks. Especially in the evening it is a great place to walk around, enjoy a tea and simply watch the night go by.

Galata Tower
Galata Tower is one of the top places to visit in Istanbul!

In the middle of the district, you find the Galata tower, which marks the center of Galata. You can walk up the tower and enjoy the views over Istanbul, all the way over to Sultanahmet and its mosques are or, and this is what we mostly do, you can take a seat in one of the hidden bars that are located on the upper floors of the buildings surround the tower, have a cake and coffee and watch the tower from here. Either way, this district is a piece of Istanbul’s history.”

11) Enjoy Sunset @ The Maidens Tower:

On the East side of the Bosporus in the neighborhood of Üsküdar you’ll find a treat that many visitors to Istanbul miss out on. Crossing the strait on the metro and walking down the shoreline you’ll find the Maidens Tower. Built originally as a customs station to exact taxes from passing ships, legend has it that the then emperor used the tower to thwart an oracle’s prophecy.

The oracle prophesied that the emperors daughter would be killed by a poisonous snake before her 18th birthday. In an effort to thwart his daughter’s early death, the emperor banished her to the tower, away from land so as to keep her safe from any snakes until her 18th birthday. On her 18th birthday, the emperor brought her a basket of exotic fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, a venomous snake that had been hiding among the fruit bit the young princess and she died in her father’s arms, just as the oracle had predicted, hence the name Maiden’s Tower.

Sit here along the shore, get a cup of tea, some food and maybe even a hookah as you watch the world float by as the sun sets. Be sure to keep your travel camera close by, the number of amazing photo opportunities here are endless!

12) Go Local In an Authentic Turkish Neighborhood:

One of my favorite places to visit in Istanbul, away from the typical tourist sites, are the local neighborhoods of the city. None is more colorful & spectacular than the neighborhood of Balat. Its got a UNESCO world heritage site status and a great vibe!

Margarita Steinhardt of The Wildlife Diaries Writes:

“Walking around Istanbul is like exploring an open-air museum. Everywhere you turn, you find spectacular relics of the past empires. But there is more to Istanbul than the grand imperial mosques and palaces. A big part of the city’s charm is hidden in the maze of its ancient backstreets that twist and turn among the city’s seven hills.

One of my favourite neighbourhoods in Istanbul is the Jewish quarter of Balat. Perched along the western shore of the Golden Horn, Balat is not a very well-know tourist attraction, despite its status of a UNESCO Heritage Site. Less than 1% of the tourists visiting Istanbul make it to Balat, which makes it the perfect place to escape the crowds and get immersed in the authentic local culture.

an off the beaten track place to see in istanbul is Balat
The Balat neighbourhood is just one of the amazing places to visit in Istanbul!

Balat is a quaint and colourful neighbourhood that has been favoured by the Jewish and Greek residents since the days of the Byzantine empire, when the city was known as Constantinople. And unlike the more central parts of Istanbul, Balat hasn’t changed that much in the last few hundred years.

Its steep and narrow streets are lined with vividly colourful, if somewhat dilapidated buildings and clothes lines strung across from one building to the next. Each door, each window and even each rain gutter is painted in bright colours in Balat.

To reach Balat, catch any bus that runs along the coast of the Golden Horn from Eminonu bus station at Galata Bridge.  Get off at the Bulgarian Iron Church, walk along the Golden Horn until the first street that runs up the steep hill, and follow it into the maze of Balat’s colourful streets.

Chances are, you will get lost, but this is the beauty of exploring this ancient neighborhood. And don’t worry, the Golden Horn will always be visible down below, so you can always find your way back.”

13) Visit Beylerbeyi Palace:

Another one of the popular places to visit in Istanbul is Beylerbeyi Palace. Here, sitting along the Asian edge of the Bosporus, it was built as a summer residence and a place to entertain visiting heads of state. Although the palace is fairly restrained compared to the Dolmabahce or Topkapi sites its still well worth a visit!

Priyanko Sarkar of Constant Traveller writes:

“If you take the Bosporus cruise during your time in Istanbul (and you should), you’ll find an opulent palace on the Asian side of the city right below the 15th July Martyrs bridge. Beylerbeyi Palace is the neglected step-sister of Dolmabahce Palace who gets all the attention from tourists in Istanbul but make no mistake, this palace is not without her own charms.

The palace is open from 9 AM to 4.30 PM (3.30 PM during winter) but closed on Monday and Thursday. Admission to the palace costs 20tl.Priyanko Sarkar

With 24 rooms, 6 halls and an unique Turkish bath, Beylerbeyi Palace was the summer residence of Ottoman Sultans during their heyday. The palace, in fact, has many European influences such as French clocks, crystal chandeliers and porcelain vases. In fact, the Tuileries Palace windows in Paris are directly copied from here, courtesy a visit by Empress Eugenie in 1869. Sultan Abdulaziz, who commissioned the palace, also put his naval background to use in some of the rooms.

beylerbeyi Palace is just one of the awesome things to see in istanbul
Beylerbeyi Palace

Visiting Beylerbeyi can sometimes feel like you’re the only one in the palace, apart from the compulsory guide. It’s a version of Dolmabahce and Topkapi palaces without any of the crowds and for that reason alone it should be on top of your must-see list in Istanbul.

Once you’re done with your tour, take a walk on the garden outside and take a bite at the inexpensive café situated within the complex.

14)Explore The Eyüp Sultan Mosque & District:

While you’re in the area visiting Beylerbeyi Palace or the Rumeli Hisari Fortress you’ll no doubt notice the Eyüp Sultan Mosque looming on the horizon. This gorgeous cross between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque along with its immaculately landscaped gardens is a great place to explore the architecture and history of the area and it looks great from a drone too 😉

Jan from Budget Travel Talk writes:

“It’s necessary to see some top sights whichever city you are exploring and Istanbul is no different, but it’s also exciting to take home some distinctly local memories that not all visitors are familiar with.

Istanbullar (people from Istanbul) adore the district of Eyup and like nothing more than to drink tea at the Pierre Loti Café with the whole of Istanbul spread out before them. We suggest taking the Ferry to Eyup from Eminonu and then riding Eyup Gondola up to the café.

After sipping tea and loitering over the view, choose a sticky textured ice-cream or dondurma from the nearby stalls and wander down through the Eyup Cemetery with it’s cats, graves of the Ottoman Sultans and Golden Horn views. It is somewhere that locals enjoy a Sunday afternoon stroll.

The path leads to the base of the hill and Eyup Sultan Mosque – the mosque that Turkish folk from all over the country come to visit. It is so famous that only Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem outshine it.

places to see in istanbul Eyüp Sultan Mosque
The Eyüp Sultan Mosque as seen from the air!

Boys clad in white finery come here to celebrate circumcision and the tile- covered tomb of the standard bearer of the Prophet Muhammad is a big draw-card. The mosque is beautiful inside and out and able to be accessed free of charge outside of prayer times.

The Square outside the mosque has a festive feel and is full of happy folk out to enjoy the occasion. Come to Eyup for a glimpse of what it means to be an Istanbullar.”

16)Visit The Rumeli Hisari Fortress:

Rumeli Hisari Fortress, literally translated as “Strait-Cutter Castle” was once an important defensive fort that allowed the Ottoman empire to effectively lock down all navel traffic through the Bosporus. Owning the straight allowed the ottoman’s to flourish and the fortress was used continuously until the early 1900’s.

Corinne of Reflections Enroute writes:

“Rumeli Hisari is a stone fortress that sits on the Golden Horn of Istanbul. In days past, there used to be a chain that lay under water in order for the Sultan to extract customs tax from the ships that passed by. Today, inside the fortress is just a skeleton of what used to be. There are plenty of stone walls and steps, and kids of all ages love to tromp up and down, pretending to be the Sultan’s guards or Ottoman warriors. It is a place that will spark your imagination.

Rumeli Hisari places to visit in istanbul
Rumeli Hisari Fortress Is one of the great places to visit in Istanbul!

To get to Rumeli Hisari take the 25E bus the tram stop Kabatas, it’s very easy! Try to go before lunch, because the restaurants around the fortress are known for their Turkish breakfast, or kahvalti. It’s meant to be eaten slow and with loved ones, so enjoy it before climbing the walls!”

16) Relax on The Princes Islands:

The princes islands feel as if they’re a world away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. In reality though, they sit just a few kilometers outside the mouth of the Bosporus strait and are a popular day-trip destination from the city. Without traffic (the only transport on the islands is horse and carriage) the Princes Islands make a great place to  get away from it all and earn their place on this list of places to visit in Istanbul.

Andra of Our World To Wander writes:

“When you say Istanbul, everybody thinks of majestic mosques, Islamic architecture, kebabs, and bazaars. But what if I told you that Istanbul can also spoil you with an island getaway? I am talking about the Princes’ Islands, an archipelago found in the Sea of Marmara and officially part of the Istanbul Province. They are made of nine islands (only four open for the public), the largest one being Büyükada and they are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul.

Princes Islands Istanbul
Take a Ride on the Princes Islands.

Most people choose to visit the islands, or at least Büyükada as a one-day trip from Istanbul. They are easily reachable by ferry, taking you around one hour to get there. However, it is recommended to get the first ferry in the morning as the islands are very popular among locals, so get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds.

The first thing that will strike you upon landing on Büyükada is the silence. Leaving the buzzing people aside, there is no phonic pollution due to one primary characteristic of the islands – there are no cars there! You have some really lovely transportation alternatives such as renting a bicycle or if you don’t feel like pedaling, just hop on a horse-carriage and enjoy the ride.

There are not many things to do on the islands, except for enjoying the serene atmosphere. You can, however, choose to do the Great Circuit of the island which is around 15 km and offering a complete view over the island. Admire the greenery, get curious about the various styles of the buildings, enjoy a meal and then prepare to head back to Istanbul. You will definitely feel it much louder upon your return.”

17) Walk along the Walls of Constantinople:

Back when Istanbul was known as Constantinople and it acted as the new capital of the Roman Empire enormous defensive walls were erected around the perimeter of the city. These defensive fortifications are considered by scholars to be the last great fortification system of antiquity, and one of the most complex and elaborate systems ever built. Today you can still walk over 7 kilometers of the old walls while being amazed at the craftsmanship and ingenuity that have helped them survive to today.

The walls of Constantinople are one of the many things to do in Istanbul
The walls of Constantinople

Places To Visit In Istanbul Video:

Sometimes text and photos just aren’t enough. While a video cant replace visiting Istanbul I can help give you a feel for what you might be missing if you skip over visiting Turkey.

The Take Away:

If I could give you just one pice of advice when you visit Istanbul, it would be this: Let go of all your preconceived notions, expectations or plans for the city. Istanbul is a great city to get lost in! So grab your backpack, book some cheap airfare, wander her streets, eat her food, meet the local people and get lost in the deep history & rich Turkish culture of this unique city!

If you’re feeling a bit adventurous why not leave the guidebook behind and simply head out on foot to see what that day will bring? I guarantee you’ll have a great time exploring all the places to visit in Istanbul!

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Patrick Horsfield

I’m Patrick, traveller, explorer, writer and photographer in chief here at Adventographer. Growing up with a healthy appetite for adventure on the west coast of Canada helped me shake the mindset that I needed material things and encouraged me to make travel a priority in my life. I write from a wealth of travel experiences both good and bad and endeavor to create & share amazing, inspiring content from around the world as a catalyst for change. Come along with me as I Explore/Create/Educate!

5 Comments

  1. I love how you put a map here so it’s super easy to find everything you talk about. And WOW! That mosque is absolutely stunning. Love the overhead shot to show how massive it is. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is perfect for me, as I really want to visit Istanbul next year. The blue mosque is stunning, as is the Galata Tower. Your photos are wonderful and inspiring too!

  3. I think my sister is planning to visit this area next month. I just love the architecture here. What I would really like to experience the most is the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam. I grew up going to hot springs in Japan, so it would be fun to experience the traditional bathhouses in Istanbul.

  4. This is a great guide to visiting Istanbul. The Basilica Cistern looks impressive and so does the blue mosque! I love that you also visited a local neighbourhood. Can’t wait to visit Istanbul one day!

  5. “t’s the worlds melting pot”, I love that. Your writing style is beautiful, eloquent and informative. There’s even history in here too. I’ll bookmark this for when I finally go! Thank you!

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