Being one of the largest and most populated cities in Turkey, Istanbul boasts about a wide range of sightseeing destinations. Whether you are traveling to Istanbul from an outside part of Europe or you are traveling within Turkey, a visit to this city will add real excitement to your tour. The city is packed with so many traveling gems and you will get perplexed when making a final choice. Here is an Istanbul travel guide that will help you to finalize some of the top things to do and the best places to visit in Istanbul:
- Hagia Sophia: Be prepared to explore the heritage of the major monuments and constructions of the city. The Hagia Sophia is an old mosque of considerable ancient devotion in Istanbul and is the ancient church. It was a center of religious, political, and artistic activity during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor. After Sultan Mehmed II seized Istanbul in 1453, it served as a major center for Muslim prayer. Then he turned it into a mosque. One of the defining symbols of the town is supposed to be the dome. Purchasing tickets online helps you bypass the enormous waits at your front door. Hagia Sophia can be combined with other tours as it is one of the top tourist attractions in Istanbul.
- Topkapi Palace: The palace of Topkapi was erected by Mehmet in the 15th century. The Sultans of the Ottoman Empire controlled this palace until the 19th century. The palace presents a magnificent exhibition of Islamic architecture. There are more than 100 rooms and chambers in the Palace complex. However, the public can only reach a few significant chambers and rooms. You should be there well in advance because before the opening time the wait starts. Even if you are in Istanbul for only one day, it is one of the best places to see in Istanbul all around the year.
- Grand Bazar: Shopping is one of the top 10 things to do in Istanbul and Grand Bazaar is one of the best tourist attractions of Istanbul for every traveler. It’s the first shopping world market covering a fifth of the city. The Grand Bazar is situated between the NureOsmaniya Masjid and the Beyazit Masjid, surrounded by strong walls. The Grand Bazaar is accessed by one of the eleven gates. You can see the retail shops and stalls of Turkey’s souvenirs from the entrance. The complete Bazar is divided into several parts, which facilitate shopping. This is a market with approximately 61 roads and more than 4000 shops with an area of 30,700 m2. This is one of Istanbul’s top spots to visit.
- Hippodrome: In the year 203 AD, Septimius Severus constructed and completed this ancient Hippodrome, the Grand Constantine in the year 330. It was the hub of public life in Byzantium. The venue was also the scene for wonderful games and carriage races. Nothing can be seen today, except for a small gallery on the southern part. Meydani Park, however, has different monuments. The North-West side of the fountain was allocated by the German Willliam Emperor II for the Ottoman Sultan in 1898.
- Galata Tower: One of the most beautiful and popular land lights in Istanbul is the Galata Tower, with a unique witch’s hat dome. It was built around 38 meters above sea level and stands 62 meters above its base, and dates from the 14th century. The tower is a tower in Genoa overlooking picturesque Istanbul and has a huge cone-shaped structure. The view from the tower which comprises Istanbul is amazing on the Historic Peninsula, the Golden Horn, and the Bosphore across the Princes’ Islands.
- Istiklal Street: It is a necessity for all travelers in Istanbul when it comes to Istiklal Street (Istiklal Avenue). It’s a 1,5 km long and colorful walking street and large bow way that crosses Beyogly and lies at Taksim Square, which means ‘Independence Avenue.’ The street has many shops, restaurants, cafés, and street shows. The antique tram crosses Istiklal Street. Istiklal Street is one of Istanbul’s top sites to view.
- Istanbul Theme Park: Istanbul Theme Park is an enormous complex with an extensive theme park, one of the world’s best shopping and entertainment centers. It’s a terrific area for you to spend the whole day with your family and children in the Eyup area of Istanbul. You may enjoy with your family and friends the amazing and enchanting world of Istanbul Theme Park. Enjoy the fourth most extensive ride and thrill on the world’s 4th largest riding coaster. You can also have fun exploring the park’s shopping complex.
- Sea Life Aquarium: Sea Life Aquarium is a renowned amusement facility in Istanbul, situated in the Forum Shopping Plaza in the Bayrampasa district of Istanbul. It is the world’s fifth-largest aquarium. You can visit the Amazing Underwater World of Aquatic Life Istanbul with an astonishing 47 exhibition tanks and over 15,000 sea species. A terrific activity for families with children in particular.
- Chora Church: It is one of the greatest Byzantine monuments, the declining fresco-laden, and mosaic church. This is built by columns and is surrounded by seventeen separate long windows. There is biblical history and images of the Virgin Mary on the walls of the church. It is one of the top sites for individuals seeking the best of religious joy and historical grandeur in Istanbul.
- Basilica Cistern: This is the world’s biggest cistern in Istanbul, a wonder of Byzantine architecture that offers you an opportunity to learn about the lifestyles of many important persons in the past. Hen’s eye column with a teardrop motif is one of the most noticeable features in this cistern. It features a café and high lighting paths for tourists’ convenience.
- Dolmabahce Palace: This gorgeous and decorated palace is one of the top places to visit in Istanbul, which has been built in the center of tourists. It was previously the administrative capital of the Ottoman Empire and at that time maritime rituals were held. However, it is currently a popular tourist destination that reflects the greatness and infinite beauty of European style. It has furnishings in the French style, huge glass candlesticks, and shining frescoed ceilings that attract tourists.
- Gulhane Park: This is one of Istanbul’s oldest urban parks and visitors want peace. In the Ottoman era, Topkapi Palace’s outside garden was constructed and the royal family could only visit, but it opened for a public visit in the 16th century. It contains a playground for children and trees to enjoy running and leisure activities. This park is famed for its tulip blossoms that make the area look like a marvelous land. The park also provides panoramic views of the Golden Horn, the Strait of Istanbul, and the Marmara Sea.
- Blue Mosque: The city of Istanbul is packed with Islamic people and no wonder you will come across several wonderful Mosques in the city. It is worth exploring all these great landmarks and Blue Mosque is one of them. As soon as you enter in this artistic mosque you will be stunned by its extraordinary interior and grand décor. Tourists traveling from different corners of the world come to this Mosque to experience its beauty.
- Istanbul Archaeology Museum: If you want to dig into the history of Istanbul then a visit to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum is recommended by every Istanbul travel guide. Here you can spot a grand collection of artifacts that dates back to old centuries. In the museum, you can spot three different sections Tiled Pavilion of Mehmet the Conqueror, Archaeology Museum and Museum of the Ancient Orient. With so much to discover here, you should allocate a significant amount of time to make your tour memorable.
- Belgard Forest: There is a common myth that Istanbul is only famous for historical landmarks and artistic sites. Come to Belgard Forest and you will come to know how this city is also blessed with several natural wonders. It is one of the highly popular places to visit in Istanbul travel guide where you will enjoy some peaceful time away from hustle and bustle of the city. For adventure lovers, it is an ideal picnic spot where they can enjoy activities such as hiking and trekking.
- Prince Islands: It is a combination of nine different islands which is located on the Asian coast of city. You can reach to this destination by taking a ferry ride while cruising through the crystal clear waters of sea. It is one of the most tranquil places to visit in Istanbul where you can experience amazing flora and fauna. The pristine forest of Prince Island makes it a place equal to heaven which you shouldn’t miss at all.
- Cappadocia: Your tour to Istanbul will be incomplete without visiting a historical destination such as Cappadocia. Here you can spot several cone-shaped rocks located at the untouched Monks Valley which was resident for cave explorers. A hot air balloon ride is considered as a key highlight at the valley which is considered as an ideal site for history lovers. For students and teenagers, it is considered as an ideal picnic spot where they can enjoy a lot of adventure in the vicinity of nature.
What’s next waiting for you?
The key highlights covered in the above Istanbul travel guide are a perfect blend of historical sites and natural jewels. The above list of best things to do and top places to visit in Istanbul will definitely add an element of spice to your journey. If you are planning a long vacation in this city then you can consider adding few more famous destinations to your itinerary. Some other sites you consider visiting include Süleymaniye Mosque, Dolmabahçe Palace, Chora Church, Kilyos, Sapanca, Bursa, Antalya, and much more. Now you know where to go and what to do in Istanbul go ahead and plan your itinerary accordingly. If you are planning to visit few more cities around Turkey then check out our Europe travel guides.