Things To Do Istanbul

Istanbul is a big city with hundreds of attractions, read our extensive list about what to do in Istanbul to create a better itinerary.

50 Things to Enjoy in Istanbul

Istanbul, known as the city of a thousand mosques, with seven hills or One Thousand and One Nights... Adjectives are lacking to describe this incredible city, a bridge between Asia and Europe. With a perfect blend of Eastern and Western cultures, full of people, color and movement, as if it were a big bazaar. Feeling the call to prayer in the mosques, visiting the Hagia Sophia, getting lost in the bazaars, visiting the palaces, watching a sunset from the Pierre Loti café or a walk along the Bosphorus are some of the many things to see and do in Istanbul. Here is a list of the top 50 things to do in Istanbul that are the most essentials while visiting this great city!

If you are planning a “family holiday”, Istanbul is a good choice because there are many things to do with your kids in town!

Here are the top 10 things to enjoy with kids in town

1. Visit The Museums

Istanbul is a place with thousands of years of history, thus you will have many museums to explore. Some of the main ones are the Hagia Sophia Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Archeological Museums. Guided tours are FREE with Istanbul Tourist Pass®.

2. Visit the Palaces

The Ottoman Empire built a handful of palaces and summer houses to live and rule, each one with a different style and purpose; like Dolmabahçe Palace and the Topkapi Palace. Both can be visited with informative guides for FREE with Istanbul Tourist Pass®.

3. Visit the Imperial Mosques

The members of the Ottoman family commissioned the construction of many important mosques. You can easily identify them by their magnificence. For instance, the Blue Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque, Fatih Mosque or the New Mosque.

4. Churches, Monasteries and Synagogues

Constantinople was one of the very few places on Earth with a great meaning to the three main religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. You can still find sacred buildings from each of these religions in Istanbul.

5. Visit the Landmarks

These places are not only historical, but also many legends and myths about them were created by the inhabiting civilizations. Visit the Galata Tower, Maiden’s Tower or Basilica Cistern and your eyes will open to a whole new world.

6. Shop in Istanbul

Constantinople was an important trade center in the Silk Road for centuries. Today, you can still enjoy the shopping experience in Istanbul by purchasing the world-famous Turkish rugs or stopping by at the hundreds of shops in the Grand Bazaar.

7. Get Lost in the Grand Bazaar

Visit Cevahir Bedesten, Zincirli Han, İç Cebeci Han. Do not forget to stop by for a tea in the courtyard of İç Cebeci Han.

8. Visit the Spice Bazaar

Chase after spices, various kinds of Turkish delight and candies from all over the world in the Spice Bazaar.

9. Spend a day in Sultanahmet

There are many historical places to see in Sultanahmet, one of the most central places of the city. It can also be a good activity to spend a day examining the streets and people next to these structures.

10. Feed the fish in the Basilica Cistern

Since the cistern was used to meet Istanbul's water needs, it still has water. So don't forget to feed the tiny fish living in the cistern during your free visit with Istanbul Tourist Pass.

11. Pray at Eyup Sultan Mosque

For being the holiest of holy mosques in Istanbul, it is the spot where local people come to pray and make a vow.

12. Drink Boza in Vefa

The boza, which Istanbul carries with pride and quality from its past to the present, is not only unique to Istanbul, but also a value that has created its own brand and became a whole with its district Vefa.

13. View the City From Galata Tower

Look down on the city from the Galata Tower, which adds a mysterious atmosphere to the Istanbul skyline, and don't forget to find about the legends of this tower.

14. Have a Picnic in Gülhane Park

Gülhane Park, a place that has been the subject of poems, not enough songs have been made, is a frequented sightseeing point in the heart of Istanbul.

15. Learn about the 7 hills of Istanbul.

As Topkapi Palace on the first hill, Nuruosmaniye Mosque on the second hill, Suleymaniye Mosque on the third hill, Fatih Mosque on the fourth hill, Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque on the fifth hill, Mihrimah Sultan Mosque on the sixth hill and Haseki Kulliye on the seventh hill, old Istanbul is between them!

16. Buy freshly ground Turkish coffee from Kuru Kahveci Mehmet Efendi

As you know, Turkish coffee is a world-wide-popular drink. Kuru Kahveci Mehmet Efendi in the Grand Bazaar is the most popular place where you can buy freshly ground coffee.

17. Tour the “Sahaf”

Make sure to visit the second-hand booksellers and watch the book auctions in old Sahafs in Istanbul.

18. Taste Authentic Kebab

Kebab, unlike what you may think, is not just one dish, it’s the name of a cuisine. There are maybe 60+ types of totally different food. Visit a kebab restaurant and get a mixed-kebab to taste most types.

19. Watch The Dervishes

A must-witness and unique religious ceremony, believed to bring the dervishes closer to God. There are culture centers where you can attend one of their shows in Istanbul.

20. Do A Bosphorus Tour

The only city in the world, located on two continents, is best seen from the Bosphorus. Sail between Europe and Asia, admire coastal palaces, cross under connecting bridges and feed the seagulls.

21. Eat Fish and Bread in Eminönü

Blahernai, the old name of the current Ayvansaray district, takes its name from the bonito beds here. So many fish spawned here that Constantinople would never go hungry. So, you should definitely try some fish and bread here, just like Byzantines!

22. Try A Turkish Bath

Turkish Baths form a large part of Turkish culture. If you have more than just a couple of days, spare a few hours to get rid of the travel stress, then turn your trip into a relaxing one.

23. Eat Kumpir in Ortaköy

Eating kumpir is a ritual in Ortaköy. You won't regret it, no matter which counters you buy from, the street where the bakers are lined up. A baked potato with lots of butter and lots of cheese can be eaten plain. But still, you can fill it with Russian salad, pickles, olives, sausages, and spicy paste.

24. Watch Istanbul from Camlica Hill

It is possible to enjoy a nice rest on Camlica Hill, accompanied by the magnificent view of Istanbul. It is ideal for breakfast and dinner, especially at a beautiful place with a view on the weekend.

25. Climb Rooftops

This very-old “inn”, Büyük Valide Han is a place with an amazing view of Istanbul that not many tourists know. People climb to the roof, enjoy the view and wait their turn to get amazing pictures taken.

26. See the Stefan Sveti Church

This church is the only one of its kind manufactured in Vienna from cast iron and assembled in Istanbul.

27. ​​Visit the Galata Mevlevi Lodge Museum

The Galata Mevlevi Lodge (or Galata Mevlevihanesi) built in 1491 was the first Mevlevi house in Istanbul. Listen to Ferahfeza Mevlevi Ritual there.

28. Drink Coffee at Pierre Loti

It may be a good idea to use the cable car on the way out and on foot when getting down. Don't forget to visit the house where Mr. Loti stayed in Çemberlitaş.

29. Fish in the Golden Horn

Learn to separate the bonito from the bluefish and the toric from the cod. Because the city of Istanbul means fish for some.

30. Turkish Tea or Turkish Coffee?

Unlike what you may think, Turks are the top tea consumers in the world and Turkish coffee is a world-wide-popular drink. Try both of them and decide which one is your favorite: Turkish Tea or Turkish Coffee?

31. Visit the Princes' Islands

Büyükada, the largest out of the set of islands, is a cute island, approximately 1 hour away from Kabataş. You need to spare a day to enjoy its beauty. Walk all the way to the top and enjoy the view.

32. Climb the Aya Yorgi Hill

Join the thousands of orthodoxies and Muslims who climb the Büyükada Aya Yorgi hill on April 23. Don’t forget to make a wish during your climb.

33. Have brunch in Polonezköy

Polonezköy is one of the most preferred regions for weekend getaways in the summer months by residents of Istanbul. Especially on Sundays, for breakfasts, late brunches or barbecues, it is a great spot!

34. Cycle through the Belgrad Forest

This forest, which is one of the indispensable recreation areas of Istanbul, is a magnificent place based on the Bosphorus at one end and the Black Sea at the other, providing the opportunity to be intertwined with nature. Cycling among tall trees, greenery and flowers is surely a tremendous pleasure!

35. Meet your friends at Kadıköy Boğa (Bull Statue)

Meet your friends at the bull statue in Kadıköy Altıyol, which has been used as a meeting place for people over the years. Then get lost in the lively streets of Kadıköy!

36. Eat yogurt in Kanlıca

The small village on the banks of the Bosphorus where you consume sweet yogurt, with powdered sugar, jam or honey, even two scoops of ice cream, it's Kanlıca.

37. Enjoy the Traditional Hookah by The Sea

When it comes to hookah, we think of pleasant conversations, good friends, calmness and good smells. Hookahs, served with a thousand of tobacco and set types, can appeal to all tastes and palates.

38. Take small walks in the quiet streets of Bosphorus districts.

Every walk is, in a way, the smallest journey we can take. Perhaps the best is to make this journey around the Bosphorus districts such as Bebek, Ortaköy or Yeniköy!

39. Visit Tahtakale Balkapanı Han

Explore the Tahtakale Balkapanı Han, the honey store of the city, and the thousands of years old Byzantine cistern below it. Rumor has it that there is even a road to Hagia Sophia from here.

40. Visit the Khedive Pavilion and Grove

Lindens bloom in the groves in June. Walk around the Khedive grove with the bitter smell of linden spreads.

41. Explore the Byzantine Bastille

Bastille, the Dungeons of Anemas, is also one of the constant sets of Turkish cinema.

42. See the English Crimean Church

The only Anglo-Saxon church, is a unique place on Serdar-ı Ekrem Sokak in Galata, which was built by the British during the Crimean War.

43. Take the nostalgic tram on Istiklal Street

Nostalgic red tram is the bread and butter of Istiklal Street! Do not miss the opportunity of seeing the Istiklal this way.

44. Walk from Kuruçeşme to Bebek

You can walk the Kuruçeşme-Arnavutköy-Bebek-Rumeli Fortress line, which has the most enjoyable walking route by the Bosphorus, in about 1 hour, and you can enjoy the Bosphorus to the maximum. Don’t forget to buy ice-cream from famous Bebek Mini Ice Cream Shop

45. Go to Çengelköy Çınaraltı Tea Garden

It will be a very enjoyable breakfast option to buy börek from Çengelköy Börekçisi and eat it in the Historical Çınaraltı Family Tea Garden accompanied by tea and the Bosphorus view.

46. Participate in the Istanbul marathon

Not only is the Istanbul Marathon the only one in the world that crosses two continents, but it is perhaps one of the most beautiful and impressive runs with its views during the round.

47. Go to the Maiden's Tower

This famous tower, located in the middle of the sea, which has become the symbol of Istanbul, fascinates everyone with its legendary, yet so fascinating state.

48. Take a walk in Ataturk Arboretum

Through this big and wonderful garden with long trails to walk, you can have fresh air and take good pictures while enjoying the visual feast.

49. Cross the Continents with Ferry

Don't forget the seagulls accompanying you when you cross continents. Give them some bagels and see how they follow you during your journey.

50. Take Many Pictures

Istanbul, surrounded by sea and ancient buildings, offers many angles for perfect shots. Share on Facebook or Instagram with #istanbultouristpass hashtag and your photo will be promoted on our home page.

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