As one of the most popular and lively districts on the European side of Istanbul, Besiktas is famous for its colorful population, students, cultural activities, various shops and its football club. During your visit to Istanbul, be sure to come by this beautiful district at least once. If you don’t want to get lost and have the greatest time possible in this beautiful district, here are top things to do in Besiktas.
Visit Dolmabahce Palace
Among the best attractions in Besiktas, Dolmabahce Palace manages to take the win. Located on the southwest corner of the district next to the beautiful strait of Bosphorus, this Ottoman imperial palace comes right after Topkapi Palace in terms of popularity, and for good reasons. It was built in 1853 by Sultan Abdulmecit, and is considered to be the most luxurious palace ever built in the Ottoman Empire. It has a combination of Ottoman and neoclassical architecture with a touch of baroque style. Its large courtyard with colorful plants welcomes you as you walk towards this magnificent palace.
Inside, you will find high ceilings, rooms and halls decorated with gold and crystals, and many luxurious objects and decorations. Dolmabahce Palace has an unbelievable number of 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 Turkish hammams (baths) and 68 toilets. There are very few spots that aren’t decorated with some sort of expensive material or a detailed engraving. In the large Ceremonial Hall, you will find a huge crystal chandelier that was bought from the United Kingdom. It weighs more than 4 tons and has 750 lamps to effectively illuminate this big room.
Take a Bosphorus Cruise
One of the best things to do in Besiktas is to book a Bosphorus cruise. Though you will technically leave the district while doing so, you will also experience one of the best aspects of Istanbul: the Bosphorus. This natural strait that gives Istanbul its most unique property – which is being split into two continents – has to be seen by everyone. You can also watch it while enjoying your Turkish coffee in a café near the shores of Besiktas, but for the full experience, definitely try getting on a boat.
You will get to see the Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus bridges up close. Istanbul looks even more astonishing from the Bosphorus as well. Watching the shores and examining many historical mansions and palaces Ottomans built while enjoying your treats in your Bosphorus tour will be an unforgettable experience. If you book a Bosphorus night cruise, you also get the chance of seeing the city and the Bosphorus bridges light up, which creates a completely different atmosphere than the day.
Visit Besiktas Museum
Football is easily the largest sports branch in Turkey, and Besiktas’ football team is one of the largest, oldest and most successful teams in the country. Their home stadium has a very nice location near the shore, close to the Dolmabahce Palace. If you are sports fan, be sure to stop by this stadium to visit the Besiktas museum Because of the club’s large history, you get to not only witness Besiktas’ history, but Turkey’s sports history as well.
The museum has different sections for different decades starting from the year 1902, which is the club’s year of establishment. These sections have many applications that let you learn about Besiktas’ history interactively. You will see many valuable historical objects that belong to the club like sportswear, medals and cups. If you feel lost, you can always look at the small information booths near the objects to learn about their significance. The museum also has an exhibition center for temporary art and sports exhibitions.
Visit Yildiz Palace
Yildiz Palace is the last example of the Ottoman imperial palaces. It was built as a complex like other imperial palaces, so you can find many other attractions inside like villas, pavilions, kiosks, an opera house and a theatre. Today, the palace is used as a museum for various temporary art exhibitions.
Walk in Yildiz Park
As one of Besiktas’ imperial palaces, Yildiz Palace has a very large park that is between the Ciragan Palace and the Yildiz Palace. It is one of the biggest green areas in Istanbul. There are beautiful waterfalls, ponds, pools, countless trees and colorful flowers waiting for you to be explored. It is a great place to just relax and rest during your Besiktas tour.
Visit Naval Museum
Easily one of the largest and most popular museums in the city, Naval Museum – also known as the Maritime Museum – is definitely a must-visit in Besiktas. It has a history that goes back to 1897. It changed locations and collections many times, but today, it is located near the Besiktas Pier. Inside, visitors will get to witness the grand naval history of the Ottoman Empire, from the famous ornamented boats to countless historical objects and relics regarding the navy in Ottomans, such as maps, flags, navy clothes, navigational equipment, weapons and armor. A naval library is also present inside the Archives Department, which is one of the largest sources of information regarding the naval history of Ottomans. You can find 23,385 sources about the naval history of Turkey, which includes 7,787 rare Ottoman printed books.
Tour the Market Zone
Besiktas’ market neighborhood is certainly its center. While walking around, you will see countless cafés, restaurants, various stores, bars and pubs, so it is really easy to just get lost in this beautiful mess. You can go on a Turkish food tour by visiting local restaurants, shop for clothes and groceries, sit in a café or have fun in its countless great pubs and bars.
Visit Mimar Sinan University Painting and Sculpture Museum
Originally founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1937, MSU Painting & Sculpture Museum is one of the best activities in Besiktas for the art-lover. It was initially inside the Dolmabahce Palace complex, but it is administrated by Mimar Sinan University today. Inside, you will find the finest examples of sculptures and paintings created during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. With a current number of 6531 drawings, 487 sculptures, 78 scriptures, 50 ceramics and 10 icons, there are literally thousands of amazing art pieces to see in this museum.