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Istanbul is a big city with hundreds of attractions, read our extensive list about what to do in Istanbul to create a better itinerary.
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
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 and Archeological Museums. You can enter them using the Museum Pass Istanbul.
The Ottoman Empire built a handful of palaces and summer houses to live and rule, although each one with a different style and purpose. Examples of these are the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Topkapı Palace, the Beylerbeyi Palace and the Yıldız Palace.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visit Cevahir Bedesten, Zincirli Han, İç Cebeci Han. Do not forget to stop by for a tea in the courtyard of İç Cebeci Han.
Chase after spices, various kinds of Turkish delight and candies from all over the world in the Spice Bazaar.
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.
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 visit.
For being the holiest of holy mosques in Istanbul, it is the spot where local people come to pray and make a vow.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Make sure to visit the second-hand booksellers and watch the book auctions in old Sahafs in Istanbul.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This church is the only one of its kind manufactured in Vienna from cast iron and assembled in Istanbul.
The Galata Mevlevi Lodge (or Galata Mevlevihanesi) built in 1491 was the first Mevlevi house in Istanbul. Listen to Ferahfeza Mevlevi Ritual there.
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.
Learn to separate the bonito from the bluefish and the toric from the cod. Because the city of Istanbul means fish for some.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Lindens bloom in the groves in June. Walk around the Khedive grove with the bitter smell of linden spreads.
Bastille, the Dungeons of Anemas, is also one of the constant sets of Turkish cinema.
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.
Nostalgic red tram is the bread and butter of Istiklal Street! Do not miss the opportunity of seeing the Istiklal this way.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Don't forget the seagulls accompanying you when you cross continents. Give them some bagels and see how they follow you during your journey.
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