Top Tours & Activities in Istanbul
Istanbul's strategic location between Europe and Asia on the ancient Silk Road has made it one of history's most important cities. A list of its points of interest would be long enough to bridge the Bosphorus, so here's a top 10 to make your itinerary more manageable!
In Hagia Sophia, the immense dome crowning this church turned mosque turned museum was an architectural miracle in its time, although it took a lot of trial and error to get to that point: it collapsed twice!
Also commonly known as the Blue Mosque, the fine İznik tiles adorning this magnificent structure may make it appear bluer than it actually is!
The glorious Dolmabahçe Palace dominates the European shoreline of the Bosphorus where it served as the key administrative center in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire.
Topkapi Palace, the one-time home of many Sultans, not only offers spectacular views of the city, but also houses treasures that make the Crown Jewels look like Claire's Accessories!
As early as the 1600s, Ahmet Çelebi is said to have flown across the Bosphorus from the top of the Galata Tower. Most visitors will probably be content with the incredible views!
The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest markets on the planet. A constant source of wonder, it's also one of the world's most visited places. Expect crowds at any time!
The stunning Süleymaniye Mosque was built for Suleiman the Magnificent by the great architect Sinan. If you're feeling peckish, Ali Baba across the road might be the best restaurant in town for Turkish beans!
The Spice Bazaar otherwise known as the Egyptian Bazaar was created in 1660 and remains the place to go for spices, nuts, Turkish delight, and other divine tastes and smells!
One of Istanbul's most unusual sights, Roman relics have been reappropriated by Byzantian builders to support this complex system that once brought drinking water into the city.
Perched on top of a tiny islet in the Bosphorus strait, this historic lighthouse was once a watchtower. It now also serves as a popular restaurant and café with splendid views of the city's shoreline.
Istanbul is a cartographical labyrinth with sights and experiences awaiting you round every corner. How long to stay depends on how immersed you want to get, but a week should be enough to cover the most famous attractions.
Havataş Shuttle Buses are available from outside the terminal and leave every half an hour for Taksim between 4:00AM and 1:00AM. Taking a taxi is, however, the most convenient way, and shouldn't be more expensive than the shuttle service between a group of four. Be sure to ignore the hustlers inside the airport and take an official vehicle from the taxi rank at the terminal exit.
The key touristic areas are Fatih and Taksim, and which to stay in depends on the nature of your stay. Fatih is the old town and home to many of Istanbul's historic landmarks. Taksim, on the other hand, is modern and appeals more to those visiting the city to shop, dine, and party. Traveling between the two is simple, so don't worry if you fancy hitting the dancefloors after the Hagia Sophia!
- CurrencyTurkish Lira (₺)
- Time ZoneUTC (+02:00)
- Country Code+90
- Best time to visitThe weather is good at all times of the year, but it may be a good idea to avoid the summer if you do not like extreme heat.
Things to Do in Istanbul
Top Attractions in Istanbul
- 1Bosphorus Strait
- 3Bosphorus Bridge
- 4Istanbul Cable Car
- 5Topkapi Palace
- 6Topkapi Museum
- 7Hagia Sophia
- 8Dolmabahce Palace
- 9Grand Bazaar
- 10Golden Horn
- 11Spice Bazaar, Istanbul
- 12Sultan Ahmed Mosque
- 14Sea of Marmara
- 15Istanbul Aquarium
- 16Hippodrome, Istanbul
- 17Beylerbeyi Palace
- 18Istiklal Street
- 19Basilica Cistern
- 20Serpent Column
Other Sightseeing Options in Istanbul
Want to discover all there is to do in Istanbul? Click here for a full list.
What People Are Saying About Istanbul
From the nerve settling introduction to the last piece of Turkish delight it was truly a night to remember. I was Looking for something out of the ordinary and found it! Local custom and cuisine at the home of our host for the evening provided an immersive experience like none I have ever experienced. I would recommend this tour to anyone wanting to get out of their shell and experience local culture on a one on one basis. Ekrem our guide did a wonderful job and made the evening flow from start to finish! Highly recommended!
It is a nice tour with full of entertainment an opportunity to meet people of various countries under one roof The presenter was very good humorous and friendly who knows his job very well
A good way to see the Bosphorus sights at night while enjoying a nice meal and great entertainment.
A great service and the Guide was outstanding, knowledgeable and very flexible. Will use the service again, and if back in the same location (Istanbul and surrounding area) will work with same guide.
We really enjoyed Alp, our guide, and all of the crafts people he introduced us to. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the Grand Bazaar, we felt that after the tour we could get around on our own. We thoroughly enjoyed the day!