Places to visit in Istanbul! Where East meets West

 In Adventure, Places To Visit, Travel, Turkey

Istanbul is a fusion of diverse influences spanning centuries of civilization. Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, places to visit in Istanbul are the gateway to several historical attractions and neighborhoods that offer visitors are dreamy experience. It has some of the tallest buildings where you can have a glittering view of the city. 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.

From Galata Tower which is the tallest structure to Dolmabahce Palace which is known for its Grandeur are some of the best places to visit in Istanbul. From World renowned Istanbul Archaeological Museum to the bustling markets of Nisantasi. Istanbul provides a kaleidoscope of experiences to the visitors. It has many religious landmarks like Chola church and Basilica cistern that offer peace to visitors. 

The heritage and vibrancy of the city make it one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It also has some beautiful green spaces like Gulhane Park. The city is an absolute paradise for shopping enthusiasts and you can find both multi-speciality malls and local flea markets. 

So get ready for the vacation of a lifetime by exploring the scenic views and colorful lanes of Istanbul that promise to offer the visitors something new every time you are here.

20 best places to visit in Istanbul are

  • Galata tower
  • Istanbul archaeological museum
  • Chora Church
  • Basilica cistern
  • Dolmabahce palace
  • Grand Bazaar
  • Topkapi palace
  • Blue Mosque
  • Hagia Sophia 
  • Gulhane park
  • Rumelihisari
  • Zeyrek mosque
  • Sulyemaniye mosque
  • Vialand
  • Miniaturk
  • Istanbul Dolphinarium
  • Bosphorus bridge
  • Kumkapi
  • Dancing fountain in Sultanahmet
  • Nisantasi

1. Galata Tower

galata-tower

Climb to the top of this medieval tower for beautiful views of Istanbul. Dating back to 14 century, it offers a perfect viewpoint to admire the city skyline including the iconic domes and minarets of the old city. Galata Tower is a  Genoese Tower that measures around 220 feet has nine stories and is a must places to visit in Istanbul. It houses a restaurant on the top of the tower that features Turkish dance performances and traditional cuisines.

Location: Bereketzade, Galata Kulesi, Istanbul

Entry fees: 35 Turkish Liras for adults.

2. Istanbul Archaeological Museum

istanbul-archaeological-museum

It is a must places to visit in Istanbul that brings together a unique collection of artifacts and sculptures from Turkey and the Middle East. The museum consists of three different sections out of which the Main is the archaeological museum and two are a tiled pavilion of Mehmed and Conqueror and the Museum of the Ancient Orient. 

Highlights include the Alexander sarcophagus, the Treaty of Kadesh, and the stunning tiled kiosk. Explore artifacts from ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, and Ottomans.

Location: Cankurtaran, Istanbul

Entry fees: 36 liras.

3. Chora Church

chora-church
Image Source : CHORA MUSEUM

Dating back to the 11th century it is a masterpiece of Byzantine art and architecture with intricate designs depicting religious themes. It is a drop-dead gorgeous fresco Laden and mosaic church that is considered to be one of the best examples. It is supported by columns and surrounded by 16 distinct long windows which are illuminated by natural light. The walls of the church depict biblical stories and have images of the Virgin Mary. It is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul for those seeking the best of religious bliss.

Location: Dervisali, Kariye camii, Istanbul

Entry fees: 30 liras

4. Basilica Cistern

basilica-cistern

This is one of the largest underground cisterns in Istanbul that is considered a marvel of Byzantine engineering and gives you a chance to learn about the lives of great personalities in the past and is must places to visit in Istanbul. One of the most prominent attractions of this cistern is the Hen’s eye column which has a teardrop motif on it. It has a Cafe and lighted elevated walkways for the convenience of visitors.

Location: Alemdar, Istanbul

Entry fees: 20 Lira

Suggested read: Places to visit in Turkey.

5. Dolmabahce Palace

dolmabahce-palace-3

This is one of the most glamorous palaces in Istanbul that has carved a special place in the hearts of tourists and places to visit in Istanbul. It was formally the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire, and naval ceremonies were organized over there during that time. 

But now the palace has become a popular tourist attraction that gives a reflection of the European style opulence and its never-ending beauty. It has French-style furniture, Mammoth crystal chandeliers, and frescoed ceilings that amaze the visitors.

Location: Visnezade, Dolmabahce, Istanbul

Entry fees: 60 Liras, 40 Liras extra to visit harem section

6. Grand Bazaar

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. 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.

Location: Beyazıt, Kalpakcilar, Istanbul

Entry fees: Free

7. Topkapi Palace

topkapi-palace

This palace is one of the most popular attractions in Istanbul and served as the administrative quarter of the Ottoman rulers. This complex features opulent courtyards lined with hand-painted tile work and decorated rooms. The main highlight of Topkapi Palace is the Harem, where the Sultan’s concubines used to spend their time. It also has an imperial council chamber, an imperial treasury, and a sacred safekeeping room.

Location: Cankurtaran, Istanbul

Entry fee: 72 Liras

8. Blue Mosque

blue-mosque

It is considered to be one of the most popular places to visit in Istanbul which draws tons of visitors towards it due to its breathtaking beauty. 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. This historic mosque features wonderfully curvaceous exteriors and six slender minarets. It got its nickname from the blue Iznik Tiles that are present inside the mosque. 

Location: Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydani, Istanbul

Entry fees: Free

9. Hagia Sophia

hagia-sophia

Hagia Sophia is a domed monument that was built originally as a cathedral, but now it has been transformed into a museum. It is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul where you can witness both Byzantine and Ottoman effects under one dome. You can witness here the unique blend of Christianity and Islamic Art. The visitors can also pay tribute to the five Sultans who were laid to rest at the Hagia Sophia complex. 

Location: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydani, Istanbul

Entry fees: 72 Liras

10. Gulhane Park

gulhane-park

This is one of the oldest urban parks in Istanbul that is frequented by tourists to seek peace. During the Ottoman period, it formed the outer garden of Topkapi Palace and could only be visited by the royals, but in the 16th century, it was opened for public visit. The park is known to be a breeding ground for tulip flowers which makes the park look like a wonderland. The park also offers a view of the Golden Horn, the Istanbul Strait, and the sea of Marmara.

Location: Cankurtaran, Istanbul

Entry fees: Free

Suggested Read: Top Restaurants in Turkey

11. Rumelihisari

rumelihisari

It was built in 1940 and is considered an important landmark of Istanbul. It has been used as a monastery and custom checkpoint. Rumelihisari has an open-air theatre and music, dance, and theatre performances and is organized to make you aware of the old Turkish culture. It now serves as a museum and an open-air theatre.

Location: Rumeli hisari, Yahya Kemal, Istanbul

Entry fees: 8 Liras

12. Zeyrek Mosque

zeyrek-mosque

Zeyrek mosque is a hidden gem in Istanbul that is the finest example of religious architecture during the Byzantine era. It was made of a former Chapel and two Eastern Orthodox churches. This is the second largest surviving Byzantine religious structure and was named after the well-known scholar Molla  Zeyrek. It serves as a religious center now for Islamic teachings.

Location: Zeyrek, Ibadethane, Istanbul

Entry fees: Free

13. Sulyemaniye Mosque

sulyemaniye-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 grandiose and simplicity. 

Its 350 m high down 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.

Location: Süleymaniye Mah, Istanbul

Entry fees: Free

14. Vialand

vialand-istanbul
Image Source : Get your guide

This is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul for an ultimate family bonding experience. This is a famous theme park that offers amusement rides to kids as well as other members of the family. The park is spread over six lakh m² square and is divided into three different zones that is the game zone, the historical zone, and an adventure zone.

Location: Yesilpinar, Istanbul

Entry fees: 259 Liras

15. Miniaturk

miniaturk
Image Source : Tripadvisor

Spread over 3 acres, it is the largest miniature part of Istanbul that gives you a glimpse of the rich history, culture, and tradition prevailing over there. It gives you a chance to have a mini tour of Turkey by pressing things to you a miniature model of the important landmarks and buildings of Turkey in one place. It also features the waterworks and pools of Turkey to make your journey in this park even more thrilling.

Location: Ornektepe, Imrahor, Istanbul

Entry fees: 15 Liras

16. Istanbul Dolphinarium

istanbul-dolphinarium
Image Source : Tripadvisor

This is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul that offers you a unique opportunity to explore the fascinating and colorful world of sea mammals. It is the largest indoor dolphinarium in Istanbul where you can watch the Dolphins play and put up interesting performances in the pool. You even have a chance to swim with the dolphins in the pool.

Location: Silahtaraga Mahallesi, Istanbul

Entry fees: 35 Liras for adults and 20 liras for kids.

17. Bosphorus Bridge

bosphorus-bridge

Is one of the most popular attractions in Istanbul that spans between Europe and Asia and is considered to be the epitome of extraordinary architecture. Earlier you could walk along the bridge, but now walking is fully restricted and only vehicles can cross through the bridge. At night the bridge lights up with LED lights making it an Instagram-worthy site for the visitors. You can take a cruise at the bridge during nighttime to enjoy the splendid view of the lit-up bridge.

Location: Kuzguncuk, Istanbul

Entry fees: Free

18. Kumkapi

kumkapi

This is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul, is the famous street food place of Istanbul that is frequented by locals and tourists to have the most amazing culinary experience. It has the most renowned seafood restaurants and cafes where you can have a flavourful experience. It also has some cocktail bars where you can sample Turkish drinks.

Location: Northern shore of Marmara Sea, Istanbul

Entry fees: Free

19. Dancing Fountain in Sultanahmet

dancing-fountain-in-sultanahmet

Watching the dancing fountain is one of the best things to do in Istanbul at night. Located between Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet Park brightens up completely when the water fountain shoots water upwards and thousands of different colors.

Location:  Sultanahmet

Entry fees: Free

20. Nisantasi

nisantasi

This is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Istanbul and is known for its high-profile fashion scene. It is extremely renowned for its fashion boutique that sent prominent local as well as international labels. You can buy jewelry from Aida Bergsen or accessories from the Adidas shop. It also has some restaurants cafes and historical buildings that reflect European-style architecture.

Location: Nisantasi, Istanbul

Entry fees: Free

What are the must-see attractions in Istanbul?

The places to visit in Istanbul in Istanbul are the Hagia Sophia, the blue mosque, the Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, the Basilica Cistern, and the Bosphorus Bridge.

What’s the best way to explore the area?

Istanbul is a major hub for international flights. You can fly into Istanbul Ataturk Airport or Sabiha Gokcen Airport. Once you are there, the best way to explore the area is by utilizing a combination of public transport such as the Metro, tram, and ferries along with walking.

Are there any activities for adventure seekers in Istanbul?

Istanbul offers some thrilling activities for adventure seekers. You can go hot and ballooning in Cappadocia. Additionally, you can go paragliding or scuba diving. For those interested in outdoor adventures hiking in the nearby Belgrade forest or exploring Prince’s Island by bike is a great option.

What are some local dishes or foods to try in Istanbul?

Some local foods to try include doner kababs, Mezze, borek, Turkish delight, baklava, and of course Turkish tea and coffee.

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