What to do and see in Istanbul, Turkey: The Best Places and Tips

March 4, 2018 Tambra Mccollister

The mosques, bazaars, and Turkish baths of Istanbul could keep you happily occupied for your entire trip: an eyeful of breathtaking architecture here, a good-natured haggle over a carpet there. Kick your trip off at the awe-inspiring Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque), which is visible from many points of the city. Stroll the Galata Bridge and stop by the Miniaturk Park to see its tiny artifacts. The Grand Bazaar has thousands of shops to browse, while the Egyptian Bazaar is a fragrant trove of spices and fruits.
Restaurants in Istanbul

1. Historic Areas of Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey
Excellent
78%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 9 reviews

Historic Areas of Istanbul

Reviewed By Renee H - Plymouth, Massachusetts

I used Grand Circle Travel, and got a guide who wrote a travel book for that government. He was wonderful and the trip was extremely interesting. We saw all the biblical and historic sites/ruins, as well as caravan saries (siq), craters, and areas like Troy, and Cappadocia--extremely unique in our world. (hot air ballooning there ) We were shown about half the country; away from the eastern half near Iran or Iraq. It was truly a trip of a lifetime for many; right up there with Greece--also with Grand Circle Travel. I felt that we got a lot for the price and couldn't have asked for more than what we received. It was wonderful!!! I also used them for Australia/New Zealand/ Fiji. I don't know if there's a more reasonably priced tour company, but I was so happy with them, I never looked further. They have excellent tours and guides; reasonable prices. Contact me if you ever need anyone to travel with; I get stuck going alone a lot. I went back in 2005, which is further back than the drop down date allows, so I have to fib on that. I went in Sept or Oct.

2. Suleymaniye Mosque

Sinan Aga Mah. Zeyrek Cad. No:4 | Zeyrek, Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey +90 506 769 33 92
Excellent
74%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 9 reviews

Suleymaniye Mosque

Famed architect Sinan built this majestic structure for one of the greatest rulers of the Ottoman Empire. Although this mosque is less ornate, there are many similarities between it and the Hagia Sophia since the same architect was responsible for both.

Reviewed By UtahMarty - Park City, Utah

We trekked over to this Mosque after realizing the Blue Mosque was closed for renovation. Most impressive. A young docent from Nigeria was most welcoming and explained to us the history and architecture. The grounds were beautiful but the view from the Terrace looking north to Galata is the best.

3. Sultanahmet District

Sultanahmet | No 63, Istanbul 34122, Turkey
Excellent
73%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 13 reviews

Sultanahmet District

The old section of Istanbul where you can find many attractions including Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.

Reviewed By Keule1965 - Henstedt-Ulzburg

Istanbul is a very busy town. The district is located about 2 km away from the Hayga Sofia with much less tourists. Here you see the real local street live, relaxed and mix of young anf older people. See also the mosques (camiis) in the area.

4. Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)

Ayasofya Square, Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34122, Turkey +90 212 522 1750
Excellent
73%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 34 reviews

Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)

This architectural marvel displays 30 million gold tiles throughout its interior, and a wide, flat dome which was a bold engineering feat at the time it was constructed in the 6th century.

Reviewed By lifenadventure - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

This is a simply stunning place and very big. We never actually made it inside as the queues were always 2hrs long and then on our last attempt the president was visiting and it was closed. But it is worth visiting the area and sitting around the Fountain and taking in the stunning views.

5. Blue Mosque

Sultanahmet | Sultanahmet Mah, Istanbul 34122, Turkey +90 212 518 13 19
Excellent
68%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
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4.5 based on 28 reviews

Blue Mosque

Built between 1609-1616, this impressive mosque has six minarets. Why is it called "Blue Mosque?" There are two stories: the first, more common one is that the interior is covered in Blue İznik tiles. The second is: Many years ago, ancient sailors who sailed by the mosque on the Marmara Sea saw the blue colors of the sea reflected in the mosque.

Reviewed By Durga M - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

If you are in Istanbul and if you have not gone to Blue Mosque you have missed something in life.
What an imposing structure.
When we visited we were not lucky as the mosque was closed for renovations.
The compound surrounding it gave it a Awe struck view

6. Bosphorus Strait

Istanbul 34122, Turkey
Excellent
67%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 9 reviews

Bosphorus Strait

Reviewed By YarMit - Moscow, Russia

Try to find some time during your trip to Istanbul to go on a boat trip over the Bosphorus Straight. It really is amazing. You can take this trip from different ports. It's not expensive. It would be better if you have some audio guide that could help you to see the places around. Our trip was in March, during the rain, but it was good anyway.

7. Topkapi Palace

Cankurtaran Mahallesi, Topkapi Palace Museum, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey | Gulhane Park, near Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul, Turkey +90 212 522 44 22
Excellent
65%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
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4.5 based on 22 reviews

Topkapi Palace

This enormous palace was the Imperial residence of Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years. Although much of the palace is not accessible, the daily tours of the Harem are of great interest to tourists.

Reviewed By Keule1965 - Henstedt-Ulzburg

This palace is a must in town. Its not far away from the Hayga Sofia, but please plan with two days for these two locations. The entry queus are long and you may spend two hours to each of them before entering.
The Topkapi palace is wonderful restored and holds religious relicts for the muslim believe. Well worth to see. It shows the long history and tradition of the musilm believe. Take your time here to enjoy the historical feeling.
The palace shows living in the past of the Sultans and reign. We liked the style - not so heavy as in the western world as in France or Spain. All of them are dramendious but the Sultans showed their wealthiness in a different way.

8. Basilica Cistern

Alemdar Mahallesi, Yerebatan Caddesi, No:1/3, Istanbul 34410, Turkey +90 212 512 15 70
Excellent
67%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 26 reviews

Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns beneath the city that provided a water filtration system for the buildings nearby. This underground chamber measures approximately 138 meters (453 ft) by 64.6 meters (212 ft) and is capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters (2,800,000 cu ft) of water. The ceiling is supported by 336 marble columns.

Reviewed By Rado P - Ljubljana, Slovenia

You should definitely find some time to visit this Byzantine legacy which is a historical and technical monument. Considering the time when it was built, considering technical tools people had at that time, this is really impressive. One hour is more than enough time if there is no crowd (best to visit early morning).

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