Discover photography spots in Istanbul: A visual journey

 In Places To Visit, Things to do, Travel, Travel Photography, Turkey

On the easternmost of Europe and bridging the continent with Asia, Istanbul Turkey’s largest city is often considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is an open-air museum filled with beautiful places that offer incredible photo opportunities. From opulent palaces to awe-inspiring mosques with minarets, every part of Istanbul is graced with tourist attractions that add fantastic photography spots in Istanbul.  A lot of places to visit in Istanbul in one day are located extremely close to each other.

In this guide we commence on a visual journey through Istanbul’s most attractive photography spots, each offering a glimpse into the city’s past and present. From the ancient wonders of Hagia Sophia to the grand bazaar, we will discover the hidden gems and iconic landmarks that make Istanbul a photographer’s dream destination.  

Whether you are a seasoned professional or an amateur enthusiast this guide has something for everyone. So pack your camera gear and join us as we commence a photographic odyssey through the beautiful streets and landmarks of Istanbul. The town is scattered with various remnants of its history, making it a perfect addition to your turkey travel packages, and new avenues that cast a spell on the minds of visitors.

Let us be your travel guide with the top 12 places to take photos in Istanbul.

The top 12 photography spots in Istanbul are 

  • Hagia Sophia 
  • Blue Mosque
  • Grand Bazaar
  • Ortakoy square
  • Balat district 
  • Karakoy to Galata bridge
  • Eminonu seafront
  • Suleymaniye mosque 
  • Rustem Pasa mosque
  • Spice bazaar
  • Basilica cistern
  • Prince’s Island 

1. Hagia Sophia


In Sultanahmet, the old city district of Istanbul, and surrounded by the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn waterway, Hagia Sophia is not just a symbol of the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire but of Istanbul itself. Once a church, later a mosque, turned into a museum and then a mosque again, this building has an incredible history and religious significance. With its awe-inspiring domes, marble columns, and mosaics, it’s safe to say you’ll be looking at one of the architectural wonders of the world and the best photography spots in Istanbul.

There are usually long queues to get inside, but if you visit earlier or later in the day, it’s quieter, and chances are you’ll get to witness a fantastic sunrise or sunset against the silhouettes of the soaring minarets – truly magical. When you visit Istanbul, remember mosques are places of worship and are closed to tourists during prayer times.

2. Blue Mosque


The blue mosque stands as one of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks, known for its stunning architecture and history. Completed in 1616, this masterpiece of Ottoman architecture is situated adjacent to Hagia Sophia. 

It is considered to be one of the most popular places to visit in Istanbul in one day which draws tons of visitors towards it due to its breathtaking beauty and the best Instagrammable Places in Istanbul This iconic attraction is a must-visit for every traveler and it gives a chance to the visitors to soak into the culture and tradition of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. It got its nickname from the blue Iznik Tiles that are present inside the mosque With its stained-glass windows, giant courtyard, and stunning silhouette made up of six minarets, this building is one of the city’s most important tourist attractions and a top photography spots in Istanbul.

3. Grand Bazaar


This is the biggest covered market in the entire world and you can see people haggling to get the best deals. If you’re looking for the best Turkish delight then Grand Bazar is your idol stop and most things to do in Istanbul in one day. 

It consists of thousands of shops where you can buy everything ranging from silk garments to jewelry to leather and carpets. This Bazaar has 40 rest houses, 18 gates,61 covered streets, and 25,000 full-time staff. The 554-year-old Bazaar is the perfect place to end your tour by stocking up some souvenirs for your loved ones. 

It is an unmissable place to visit in Istanbul. You’ll discover displays of the most varied types of products: from Turkish lamps, carpets, and sweets to jewelry and fashion accessories.  The hustle and bustle of the people and the expressive gestures of the vendors add to the allure of the place as one of the most Instagrammable Places in Istanbul. 

Suggested read: Places to visit in Turkey.

4. Ortakoy Square


Sitting in the Beşiktaş district, Ortaköy Square offers some of the best views of the Bosphorus and some of the best photography spots in Istanbul. You know what that means: incredible photo opportunities. Besides being a meeting point for locals and tourists who gather at its cafes, bars, and restaurants, this is also the site of one of the most picturesque settings in the whole of Istanbul, the Ortaköy Mosque, also known as the Grand Mecidiye Mosque. 

With its neo-Baroque style and two majestic minarets, the mosque sits by the water, just beside the giant Bosphorus Bridge. Visit at night when the mosque is illuminated, creating a magical scene that is perfect for long-exposure photography. 

5. Balat District


One of the oldest and most Instagrammable places in Istanbul, Balat is a vibrant neighborhood made up of narrow cobbled streets and colorful houses with hip cafes and art galleries. The houses – some dating back 200 years – are among the most photographed spots in Istanbul. 

There’s more: Balat has always been a melting pot of cultures and it boasts centuries-old synagogues, Greek basilicas, Byzantine churches, and mosques, all sitting close to each other. This must-visit area should be at the top of your list! 

Additional tip: want even more color in your pics? Then head to Istanbul’s Rainbow Stairs, which link the arty districts of Findikli and Cihangir. 

6. Karakoy to Galata Bridge


Situated in the Beyoğlu district, Karaköy is one of the trendiest areas in Istanbul and is home to one of the city’s icons: the majestic Galata Tower. Once you explore the wonderful streets and alleyways adorned with amazing art murals, head to the tower and climb to the top to enjoy beautiful views of the Bosphorus.

Additional tip: close to Galata Tower is Istiklal Street, Istanbul’s busiest pedestrian boulevard, which stretches to Taksim Square. This lively commercial road is adorned with beautiful boutiques and buildings, such as Çiçek Pasajı, a stunning arcade also known as the Flower Passage which is the best photography spots in Istanbul.

7. Eminonu Seafront


Once you cross Galata Bridge coming from Karaköy, you arrive at the Eminonu waterfront, another bustling and vibrant part of Istanbul that offers amazing vistas of the city’s beautiful mosques. With a busy ferry dock, the area serves as a passage for people traveling to and from other sides of the Bosphorus and is great for people-watching. 

Don’t miss trying one of Istanbul’s quintessential meals: Balik Ekmek, a delicious fish sandwich sold on the boats docked along the seafront. Enjoying a fresh fish sandwich while admiring the dazzling view of the city is a true Istanbul and the best photography spots in Istanbul. 

Suggested Read: Top Restaurants in Turkey

8. Suleymaniye Mosque


This is one of the most significant landmarks of Istanbul that was built by the Ottoman architect Sinan between 1549 and 1575. It grounds the seven hills of Istanbul and the building is a perfect fusion of exquisite and simplicity. 

Its 350 m height is the most notable feature of the building. You can find an Ottoman cemetery in the garden area where Sultan Suleyman and his family members were cremated. It is one of the largest and most popular mosques that is worshipped by Islamic devotees from all over the world.

Suleymaniye Mosque is not just one of the most impressive mosques in the city but also one of the best photography spots in Istanbul. The sheer size of the structure alone is jaw-dropping, and every bit is decorated with fine tiles, stained-glass windows, and a spectacular amber-colored floor carpet. If you have enough time, wait to listen to the call to prayer in the mosque’s inner courtyard

9. Rustem Pasa Mosque


The mosque is also referred to as the miniature of the Blue Mosque. Stepping inside can make you feel like you’ve found an oasis of calm amid the bustling city. The serene atmosphere allows you to capture amazing pics and admire the intricate tilework without being surrounded by hordes of tourists. 

Instead, you’re more likely to be there along with fine arts students sketching various drawings of the mesmerizing tiles and mosaics. Rustem Pasha Mosque is a true hidden gem, one of the most impressive examples of Ottoman tile art in Istanbul, and the best Photo Locations in Istanbul in 2024.

10. Spice Bazaar


Photograph the market scenes, capturing the vibrant display and faces of merchants engaged in lively banter. Completed in the 17th century and also referred to as the Egyptian Bazaar, this is another significant market spot in Istanbul as well as a great photography spots in Istanbul.

We’re talking real eye candy shops here: vividly colored spices stacked in mounds are showcased alongside stalls selling Turkish delights, dried herbs, nuts, dried fruits, coffee, and anything else you can imagine. This is the perfect place to stock up on edible souvenirs and, of course, capture fabulous photos with the unique backdrop of colorful displays and lively atmosphere.

11. Basilica Cistern


Basilica cistern was built in the sixth century by Justinian I, this sunken palace originally served as a water reservoir for the Byzantine city. Covering 9,800 m², there is undoubtedly a mystical beauty to the cistern along with an untouched feeling that instantly takes you back over 1000 years. Prominent at 336 support in marble columns that are arranged in 12 uniform rows. 

These were selected from other oldest structures throughout the Eastern Roman Empire and are all unique. When visiting make sure you look out for two columns near the back of the system that famously feature carvings of snake-haired medusa at their base. Photograph the cistern’s mysterious atmosphere, characterized by its dimly lit chambers, towering marble columns, and reflective waters. Experiment with light and shadow to capture the eerie beauty of the place which is the best photography spots in Istanbul.

12. Prince’s Island


Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a trip to the prince’s island. Photograph the island’s landscapes, dotted with pine forests, Victorian-era mansions, and quiet villages. Capture the horse-drawn carriages running along the car-free streets and the beauty of the sea of Marmara. 

Can you recommend the top photography spots in Istanbul?

Top photography spots in Istanbul are Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Spice Bazaar, Ortakoy Square, and Balat.

What is the best time of day for photography in Istanbul?

The best time of the day for photography is early morning or just before sunrise or sunset.

Do I need permission to photograph in Istanbul?

Generally, photography for personal use is allowed in public spaces. However, some museums and mosques have restrictions or require permits for commercial photography or the use of tripods. 

What photography equipment should I bring to Istanbul?

Cameras, lenses, tripods, extra batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning kits, and filters to reduce glare and enhance colors are the types of equipment you should bring to Istanbul. 

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