Visit Istanbul: 14 Best Things to Do in Istanbul

Are you planning a visit to Istanbul in Turkey? Look no further! With full of amazing things to do in Istanbul and places to visit in Istanbul, it is one of the most visited cities in Turkey. And it’s easy to see why – from incredible architecture to fantastic food, Istanbul offers something for everyone. But with so much to see and do, where do you start? To help you make the most of your trip, here are our top 14 things to do in Istanbul for tourists.

See The Blue Mosque

One of the most iconic landmarks in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It’s easy to see why it’s one of the top things to do in Istanbul – the stunning architecture, intricate details, and stunning blue tiles all make for an unforgettable experience.

 Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque was built in the early 17th century during the rule of Sultan Ahmed I. It is known as the Blue Mosque due to the thousands of blue tiles that adorn the interior. It’s a place of worship for Muslims, but visitors are welcome to enter outside prayer times.

Interior of  Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque is a must-see attraction in Istanbul. The courtyard is stunning, with multiple domes and six minarets towering overhead. The intricate tilework and calligraphy on the walls and ceilings are breathtaking.

Whether you’re interested in history or architecture or want to experience the peaceful atmosphere, the Blue Mosque should be on your list of things to do in Istanbul.

Visit Hagia Sophia

A visit to Hagia Sophia is one of the top things to do in Istanbul. Once a church, then a mosque, and now a museum, this iconic landmark is a must-visit for any tourist in Istanbul. Every building corner’s intricate design and intricate detail will amaze you. You can enjoy a peaceful moment of reflection as you soak in this ancient site’s rich history and beauty.

Hagia Sophia- a visit to Hagia Sophia is one of the best things to do in Istanbul

Not only is the Hagia Sophia a must-visit for history buffs, but it is also one of the top places to visit in Istanbul. The impressive dome is the largest in the world and is truly a sight to behold. You can explore the vast halls and take a moment to admire the ornate mosaics that adorn the walls.

With its unique blend of Christian and Islamic art, the Hagia Sophia is a testament to Istanbul’s diverse cultural heritage. It perfectly represents the rich history and culture that makes Istanbul an incredible city.

As you walk through the corridors and admire the ancient artifacts and intricate details, you will feel like you’ve traveled back in time. This is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul, and you can’t afford to miss it. So, make sure you put Hagia Sophia on your itinerary and enjoy one of the most awe-inspiring landmarks Istanbul offers.

Visit Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace is one of the most iconic places to visit in Istanbul. Once home to Ottoman sultans, this sprawling complex offers a glimpse into the opulence and grandeur of Turkey’s past. The palace is a stunning Islamic art and architecture display, with beautifully decorated rooms, lush gardens, and intricate details.

Topkapi Palace

One of the highlights of a visit to the Topkapi Palace is the Harem, a secluded section home to the sultan’s family and concubines. The Harem features lavishly decorated rooms and courtyards with stunning tile work, gold leaf, and marble accents.

Other must-see sights at the Topkapi Palace include the Imperial Council Chamber, where the sultan met with advisors and ministers, and the Treasury, which features an impressive collection of jewels and artifacts from the Ottoman Empire.

Take advantage of the stunning views of the Golden Horn and the Bosporus from the palace’s terrace, and stroll through the gardens dotted with fountains, flowers, and pavilions.

A visit to the Topkapi Palace is a journey through history and a feast for the senses. Make sure to set aside plenty of time to explore this incredible attraction!

Take a walk through Istiklal Avenue

If you’re looking for some enjoyable things to do in Istanbul that will give you an authentic taste of the city’s culture and character, you will take advantage of a stroll down Istiklal Avenue. This pedestrianized street is lined with all sorts of shops, restaurants, cafes, and street performers and is a great place to get a sense of what modern-day Istanbul is like.

Walk through Istiklal Avenue

Here, you can find everything from high-end boutiques to affordable street vendors selling handmade crafts and souvenirs. Plenty of food options exist, including traditional Turkish street food and more upscale restaurants.

One thing to remember when walking along Istiklal Avenue is that it can get quite crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. If you prefer a quieter experience visiting it during the week or early in the morning might be best.

As you make your way down Istiklal Avenue, keep an eye out for historic landmarks like the Galatasaray High School and the Ataturk Cultural Center. Several art galleries and museums are worth checking out, such as the Pera Museum and the Istanbul Modern.

Walking down Istiklal Avenue is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Istanbul. It is a great way to understand the city’s energy and charm. Whether traveling alone or with a group, you will find something that catches your eye and captures your imagination.

The Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar

One of the top things to do in Istanbul is to visit the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. These two bazaars are a shopper’s paradise, offering various products, from jewelry and carpets to spices and sweets.

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets, with over 4,000 shops spread over 60 streets. It’s a labyrinth of narrow alleys and passages, so getting lost is easy, but that’s part of the fun.

You can find everything from Turkish ceramics and pottery to leather goods and textiles here. On the other hand, the Spice Bazaar is the perfect place to buy aromatic spices, teas, and traditional Turkish sweets. The colorful displays of spices and teas are truly a sight to behold.

Spice Bazaar

Both bazaars are a feast for the senses, with their vibrant colors, fragrant smells, and bustling atmosphere. Visiting these bazaars is one of the best things to do in Istanbul.

Don’t forget to bargain with the vendors – it’s part of the shopping culture in Istanbul. So, get ready to shop ’til you drop at the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar – it’s one of the most unforgettable things to do in Istanbul!

Attend a whirling dervish show

If you’re looking for a unique cultural experience in Istanbul, attending a whirling dervish show should be at the top of your list. The whirling dervishes are a group of Sufi dancers who perform a ritualistic dance that represents man’s spiritual journey. The dancers wear white robes and a tall felt hat, spinning continuously while holding their arms outstretched.

A whirling dervish show

Several venues in Istanbul host whirling dervish shows, but one of the most popular is the Galata Mevlevi House Museum. This historic building dates back to the 15th century and was once a residence for the followers of the Mevlevi order of Sufism.

The whirling dervish show at Galata Mevlevi House Museum is a mesmerizing experience that combines live music, poetry, and dance. The performance lasts for about an hour, and during that time, you’ll be transported to another world as you watch the dervishes spin and whirl.

While the whirling dervish show is a popular tourist attraction, it’s also an important part of Turkish culture and tradition. The Mevlevi order of Sufism has been around for centuries. Their dance is seen as a form of meditation and a way to connect with the divine.

So, don’t forget to attend a whirling dervish show as it is one of the most unique experience and things to do in Istanbul.

Visit Galata Tower

One of the best places to visit in Istanbul is the Galata Tower. Standing tall at 66 meters, the tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. The tower offers breathtaking views of Istanbul’s skyline, and it is one of the best things to do in Istanbul.

 Galata Tower

The Galata Tower was built in 1348 by the Genoese. It has served various purposes throughout history, including as a watchtower, fire tower, and prison. Today, the tower houses a restaurant and a café, where visitors can enjoy delicious meals while enjoying the stunning views of the city.

To get to the top of the tower, visitors have to climb a spiral staircase consisting of 143 steps. It may seem daunting, but it’s worth the effort once you reach the top. Once at the top, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Istanbul’s historic peninsula, the Golden Horn, and the Bosphorus.

So, If you’re looking for some best things to do in Istanbul, the Galata Tower is a must-visit destination.

Walls Of Constantinople

The Walls of Constantinople are one of the world’s most impressive examples of medieval military architecture. Built by Emperor Theodosius II in the 5th century, they encircled the city of Constantinople, now Istanbul, protecting it from invasion for almost a millennium.

Parts of the walls still stand, offering a glimpse into the city’s storied past. Visitors can explore sections of the wall at the Golden Horn, near the Galata Bridge and Galata Tower, and other locations throughout the city.

Walls Of Constantinople

Walking along the Walls of Constantinople is an unforgettable experience. From the top of the walls, visitors can take in stunning views of Istanbul’s skyline and the Bosporus Strait. It’s also a great way to immerse yourself in history and learn more about the Byzantine Empire, which played a crucial role in the development of Istanbul and the wider region.

A guided tour of the Walls of Constantinople is highly recommended for history buffs. Plenty of knowledgeable guides can provide in-depth insights into the walls’ construction and significance, as well as the history of Constantinople itself.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking to explore one of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks, a visit to the Walls of Constantinople is one of the best things to do during your stay in the city.

Visit Basilica Cistern

If you’re looking for a unique experience while exploring the best things to do in Istanbul, look no further than the Basilica Cistern. Located underground and dating back to ancient times, this stunning cathedral-like structure is a true wonder of engineering and design. With its vast columns, arches, and shimmering waters, it’s no wonder that the Basilica Cistern is often called the “Sunken Palace.”

Basilica Cistern

One of the most striking features of the Basilica Cistern is its two giant Medusa heads that form the base of two columns. According to legend, they were placed upside down to negate their power. Regardless of whether you believe the tales, it’s a surreal sight to behold.

Another thing to love about the Basilica Cistern is that it’s an excellent escape from the heat of Istanbul’s streets. You’ll feel the cool, damp air envelop you as you walk through the columns and around the waters.

Overall, the Basilica Cistern is an incredible thing to experience and is a must see when looking for unique things to do in Istanbul. Be sure to add it to your itinerary for an unforgettable journey to one of the world’s most magical cities.

See Dolmabahce Palace

If you’re looking for a luxurious experience in Istanbul, a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace is a must-do activity. The palace is an epitome of grandeur and beauty, with its sprawling gardens, ornate chandeliers, and lavish furnishings. As you explore the palace, you’ll get a glimpse of the opulent lifestyle of the Ottoman sultans.

Dolmabahce Palace

Take your time and enjoy the grandeur of the palace, including the grand staircase and the crystal chandelier hanging from the center of the palace. You can also take a guided tour to learn more about the history and architecture of the palace.

Make sure to allocate at least half a day for your visit to the Dolmabahce Palace, as there are several buildings and areas to explore. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience that you will remember sometime soon.

Visit Miniatürk

One of the unique places to visit in Istanbul is Miniatürk. This miniature park showcases Turkey’s most famous landmarks and structures in miniature form. Visitors can stroll through the park and see replicas of the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Galata Tower, among other iconic buildings.


Aside from being an impressive display of Turkish architecture, Miniatürk offers a fascinating glimpse into the country’s rich history. The park’s collections are arranged chronologically, starting with the ancient city of Troy and continuing to modern-day Istanbul.

Visitors to Miniatürk can explore the park at their own pace, taking in miniature versions of Turkey’s most famous landmarks and learning about the country’s fascinating history. For those looking for unique places to visit in Istanbul, Miniatürk is a must-see attraction.

Visit the Archaeological Museum

If you’re a history buff or enjoy learning about the past, visiting the Archaeological Museum is one of the top things to do in Istanbul.

Located in the Sultanahmet district, the museum has an extensive collection of ancient artifacts, including Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman pieces. One of the most famous pieces on display is the Alexander Sarcophagus, a beautifully detailed tomb from the 4th century BC.

 Archaeological Museum, Istanbul

Ancient Greek and Roman statues, intricate mosaics, and other fascinating items can also be seen. The museum offers audio guides and tours to help visitors fully appreciate the exhibits.

Allow yourself plenty of time to explore this museum and explore Istanbul’s rich history. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone visiting this vibrant city!

Take a trip to Princess Islands

If you’re looking for a unique and relaxing experience in Istanbul, consider taking a trip to the Princess Islands. These nine islands, located off the coast of Istanbul, offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Princess Islands, Istanbul

You’ll need to take a ferry from Kabatas or Kadikoy to get there. Once you arrive, you’ll notice that cars are not allowed on the islands, making for a peaceful atmosphere. Instead, transportation is done via horse-drawn carriages or bicycles, so bring comfortable shoes for exploring!

The islands offer plenty to do, including hiking, swimming, and sunbathing. You can also visit historical landmarks like the Monastery of St. George or the Greek Orthodox Church of Ayios Dimitrios. And remember to sample the local cuisine – fresh seafood is a must-try on the islands!

Overall, a trip to the Princess Islands is one of the most enjoyable things to do for anyone visiting Istanbul. The tranquil atmosphere and stunning views are an experience unlike any other in the city.

Enjoy the nightlife!

One of the best things to do in Istanbul is to enjoy the nightlife. Istanbul is a city that never sleeps, and it certainly is good when it comes to nightlife. There’s so much to experience and enjoy after dark, from bars and clubs to rooftop lounges and traditional Turkish music performances.

nightlife in Istanbul

One of the most popular areas for nightlife in Istanbul is Beyoglu. Here, you’ll find a vibrant mix of bars, clubs, and live music venues open until the early morning. If you’re looking for something more traditional, head to Methane, a Turkish tavern where locals gather to drink and socialize.

Many of the city’s top hotels offer breathtaking views of the Bosphorus and skyline, making for a truly unforgettable experience.

If you’re in the mood for live music, check out one of the many venues that offer traditional Turkish performances, including Fasil music and belly dancing. These shows provide a unique glimpse into Turkey’s rich cultural heritage and will surely be a highlight of your trip.

So why not stay up late and make the most of your time in this vibrant, lively city?

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