Top things to do in Istanbul

Visitors can enjoy a diverse range of Istanbul activities, from exploring renowned historical sites like the Hagia Sophia Mosque, Blue Mosque, and Basilica Cistern to finding tranquility in the Belgrad Forest. The bustling Grand Bazaar offers a lively atmosphere for souvenir shopping while touring the Topkapi Palace or taking a boat ride on the Bosphorus, providing further insight into the city’s beauty. Regardless of preferences, the city promises an astonishing journey, with opportunities to absorb local culture, savor Turkish cuisine, and marvel at centuries-old attractions.

Visit top Istanbul attractions

The captivating Istanbul attractions offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history and stunning architecture. From the iconic Hagia Sophia to the magnificent Topkapi Palace, each site holds a unique allure. The Galata Tower provides unparalleled views of the Bosphorus and the city, while the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or Blue Mosque, impresses with its remarkable architecture. These attractions promise an unforgettable experience, showcasing the timeless magnificence of Istanbul. 

Topkapi Palace 

An extensive museum and repository, Topkapi Palace in Istanbul’s Fatih neighborhood served as the imperial Ottoman court’s residence and central administrative center from the 1460s until 1856. Massive assortments of Ottoman miniatures, china, robes, arms, and Islamic calligraphic documents may be discovered within this lavish, 350,000-square-meter building, making it one of the best things to do in Istanbul.

Tourists can immerse themselves in the sultans’ lifestyle with its luxurious pavilions, gem-filled Treasury, and extensive Harem. Topkapi Palace is a captivating instance of the Ottoman Empire and a testament to Istanbul’s abundant cultural legacy, exquisite gardens, and impressive architecture, making it a must-visit destination for Istanbul tours.

Hagia Sophia 

The Hagia Sophia, commonly known as the Grand Mosque, is one of the key tourist sites in Istanbul. It is an important historical and cultural landmark constructed as a Christian church in the sixth century. Later, it underwent alterations to transform into an imperial mosque, as it stands today.

Magically blending Byzantine and Islamic traditions, this architectural marvel, a must-see in Istanbul, boasts a grand dome and intricate tapestry that convey its rich historical significance. The Hagia Sophia, a testament to Istanbul’s remarkable past and worldwide allure, represents adaptability and resilience throughout centuries of change. For those wondering what to see in Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia is undoubtedly a captivating highlight, showcasing the city’s diverse history and cultural heritage.

Galata Tower 

The Galata Tower is a 63-meter-tall, circular stone structure that signifies both Beyoğlu and Istanbul. Once created as the highest point of the now-demolished Barriers of Galata as a watchtower, it is a museum, exhibition area, and center for popular culture.

This medieval tower impressively combines Ottoman, Genoese, and East Roman architectural elements, offering breathtaking views. Situated in the city’s Galata Quarter, the Galata Tower remains a spectacular symbol, seamlessly representing Istanbul’s rich historical and cultural legacy. For those wondering what to see in Istanbul, the Galata Tower is a must-visit attraction, providing historical depth and a hub for various Istanbul activities.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque

In the heart of Istanbul, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, is one of the most splendid examples of Ottoman architecture. This magnificent sanctuary, constructed between 1609 and 1617 under the reign of Ahmed I, features an expansive courtyard and a grand worship hall with a central dome.

Renowned worldwide for its enchanting beauty and historical importance, the Blue Mosque continues to serve as a place of worship, attracting visitors from across the globe. It is a renowned tourist site in Istanbul. It is a significant testament to Ottoman architecture from the classical era, providing a serene and essential historical experience for history enthusiasts to explore.

Basilica Cistern 

An excellent representation of antique engineering, the Basilica Cistern, commonly known as the Yerebatan Reservoir, attracts visitors due to its majestic looks. Constructed in 532 at the request of Emperor Justinian, the underground framework provided the Great Palace with essential water during the Byzantine era. The magnificent columns and ethereal atmosphere never fails to take its guests back in time.

Its historical significance and remarkable architecture are praised by people worldwide, making it the most significant surviving Byzantine cistern in Istanbul today. With insight into Istanbul’s rich historical fabric, the underground reservoir remains a must-see destination for those confused about what to see in Istanbul.

Rumeli Hisari 

Rumeli Castle, also named Rumeli Hisari or Boğazkesen Fortress, is an Ottoman fortress constructed in 1452 by Sultan Mehmed II. It perches on a range of hills close to Istanbul, Turkey. It holds strategic importance due to its crucial location for overseeing the Bosphorus and preparing for the siege of Constantinople. 

This Istanbul activity, featuring impressive structures, is a remarkable historical site drawing tourists worldwide with its captivating architecture and extensive history.

Now also acting as a museum, it presents breathtaking Bosphorus views and a glimpse into its vibrant history. Its persistent medieval heritage is apparent to all visitors exploring its grounds, symbolizing Ottoman military strength and historical importance.

Beylerbeyi Palace 

Standing proudly north of the first Bosphorus Bridge is the royal Ottoman summer residence, the Beylerbeyi Palace. This neo-Baroque architectural marvel containing 24 homes, six halls, and a Turkish sauna was constructed between 1861 and 1865. Decorated throughout with nautical details, the palace was a lavish hideaway for sultans, complete with a reception hall with a fountain and swimming pool.

The palace still stands as a symbol of historical grandeur in the modern era, captivating tourists with its exquisite architecture and extensive history. This gem still exudes charm and graces the banks of the Bosphorus, inviting exploration of the abundant Ottoman past. If you’re wondering what to see in Istanbul, the Beylerbeyi Palace is a must.

Visit Iconic Parks in Istanbul

Apart from the famous tourist sites in Istanbul, explore the captivating havens in the center of Istanbul by visiting its renowned parks. Istanbul showcases a perfect blend of the busy metropolitan life and tranquil natural getaways. The city skillfully combines history and modernity. One of the must-see parks, the historic Gulhane Park, lies next to the well-known Topkapi Palace. 

With its well-kept gardens, landmark trees, and charming promenades, Gulhane Park offers tourists a tranquil haven from the hustle and bustle of the city while allowing them to appreciate the beauty of nature against the backdrop of Istanbul’s rich history.

Additionally, Visit the Emirgan Park to be mesmerized by the gorgeous views of the Bosphorus and the park’s well-known vibrant tulip gardens. Emirgan Park invites inhabitants and visitors to unwind in its verdant surroundings, making it the perfect location for a stroll or a leisurely outing.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet haven or a chance to immerse yourself thoroughly in the culture, Istanbul’s well-known parks offer a wonderful fusion of history and nature that will make you treasure the time you spend in this vibrant city.

Museums Istanbul 

Take a cultural tour of Istanbul and discover its many museums, each offering a unique perspective into the history and creative legacy of the city. On one side is the Museum of the History of Islamic Science and Technology, which honors Istanbul’s crucial role in forming scientific knowledge during the Islamic Golden Age by showcasing state-of-the-art discoveries created by Islamic scholars.

On the other hand, the Topkapi Museum, housed in a former palace in the center of Istanbul, provides insight into the abundant way of life Ottoman rulers enjoyed. Keeping a comprehensive collection of artifacts, including imperial jewelry and historical papers, it offers a close-up view of the Ottoman Empire’s grandeur and the sultans’ lifestyles.

For fun Istanbul activities, discover creative magic at the Illusion Museum Istanbul, a fun alternative to traditional museum outings with astounding optical illusions and hands-on displays, or visit the world of Turkish calligraphy at the Museum of Turkish Calligraphy Art, where masterworks are displayed with this complex art form’s cultural and historical relevance.

Museum of the History of Islamic Science and Technology 

The Museum of the History of Islamic Science and Technology in Istanbul is a knowledge hub that highlights Islamic accomplishments throughout the Golden Age. Its more than a thousand displays of intricate apparatus and astrolabes effectively illustrate historical, scientific advancements. This 2008-opened museum provides an engaging look at the accomplishments of Islamic scholars.

Explore this tourist site in Istanbul to discover scientific breakthroughs in astronomy, medicine, and other disciplines. It commemorates the insights that shaped our science comprehension throughout this remarkable era and is a testament to Istanbul’s historical importance.

Topkapi Museum Istanbul

The Topkapi Museum, tucked away in the center of Istanbul, provides a peep into Ottoman lavishness. It used to be a palace and welcomed guests with many historical details. Now working as a museum, it displays over 80,000 objects illuminating Ottoman monarchs’ lives, including exquisite imperial jewelry and outdated manuscripts. Beautiful gardens, intricate tile work, and captivating views of the Bosporus may be discovered on its extensive grounds.

The Prophet Muhammad’s attire and the Spoonmaker’s Diamond are notable exhibitions of this museum. The extensive collection in the museum spans eras and offers a captivating journey through the splendors of the Ottoman dynasty, not to be unnoticed by history and cultural enthusiasts.

Dolmabahce Museum

One of the best things to do in Istanbul is to visit the Dolmabahce Museum, which welcomes visitors and showcases a remarkable assortment of relics from the Ottoman era. Roughly 45,000 square meters and 285 chambers compose the 19th-century mansion-transformed museum, encompassing the lavish Ceremonial Hall with its splendid 4.5-ton crystal chandelier.

Present in the museum is the world’s largest handmade Hereke rug, a superb instance of Ottoman craftsmanship. Add Dolmabahce Museum to your travel bucket list to get an insight into the prosperous lifestyle of the Ottoman emperors through its extraordinary architecture and comprehensive collection.

Illusion Museum Istanbul

The interactive displays and thought-provoking exhibits of the Illusion Museum Istanbul provide a fanciful journey through Istanbul activities. With more than seventy optical illusions, the museum allows guests to enjoy a fantastic game of perception amidst Istanbul activities. It captivates with its assortment of illusions, from gravity-defying chambers to bewildering holographics.

The 500-square-meter museum opened in 2015, attracting families and art enthusiasts worldwide to participate in Istanbul activities. Visit the museum and enter a realm where delusion and reality collide amidst Istanbul activities.

Museum of Turkish Calligraphy Art

Strategically present in Istanbul, the Museum of Turkish Calligraphy Art displays a splendid collection of historical calligraphy masterpieces. The museum highlights over 200 exhibits that delve into calligraphy’s artistic and cultural importance in Turkey. Established in 1988, the museum displays pieces from well-known calligraphers, offering a sophisticated understanding of this intricate art.

Viewers may explore the historical origins of Turkish calligraphy while appreciating the splendid brushstrokes and intricate designs. This cultural tourist site in Istanbul preserves the art form and enlightens guests about its importance, making it a must-visit location for everyone interested in discovering Turkey’s artistic past.

Istanbul to Cappadocia

Travel through stunning scenery from Istanbul to Cappadocia, engaging in various Istanbul activities. This exhilarating journey of 730 kilometers will transport you from the bustling cities of Istanbul to the splendid rock formations of Cappadocia. 

Travelers can conduct this journey in multiple ways, either by boarding a domestic aircraft, which takes about an hour, or by taking an economical overnight bus, which requires about 10 to 12 hours to complete.

Opting for the bus ride allows seeing many enchanting locations like Turkey’s capital, Ankara, through the road trip. From the city’s yield to the rolling hills and, ultimately, the peculiar Cappadocia landscapes, visitors can be mesmerized by the diverse beauty of Turkey. 

On reaching Cappadocia, the journey gets better; home to Göreme National Park, renowned for its ancient cave dwellings, hot air balloon journeys, and rock formations reminiscent of a fairy tale, this city offers visitors a lifetime experience. Convenience and picturesque splendor unite on this unforgettable road expedition, essential for anyone seeking to encounter Turkey’s diverse beauties.

Hop-on-Hop-off Istanbul

Get moving and have fun! Istanbul is well-liked and offers a practical way to see the city’s main sights. The hop-on-hop-off allows visitors to travel at their own pace, offering three distinct routes spanning more than 30 destinations. 

The buses arrive roughly every 30 minutes, so there are never long waits. The audio guide makes the trip exciting and educational, is available in several languages, and provides insights into Istanbul’s rich history and culture. 

All three routes, the Historical Peninsula, the Golden Horn, and the Asian side, can be accessed with a single ticket, allowing visitors to engage in multiple Istanbul activities and explore famous sites like the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the busy Grand Bazaar all at once. 

The ticket is a thorough and affordable method to take in Istanbul’s beauty, and it frequently includes extra benefits like the Bosphorus cruise. Hop on Hop Off Istanbul offers hassle-free and fun sightseeing for those interested in history or exploring.