Best Things to Do in Istanbul

12 Best Things to Do in Istanbul

“Discover the best attractions and experiences with this guide to the best things to do in Istanbul.”

You’re in for a treat, I tell you! Everywhere you look in Istanbul, you’ll find culture, history, and beauty. You’ve found the best place to find out about the best things to do in Istanbul. This city has everything, from visiting historic sites to enjoying delicious food. I think one of the best things to do in Istanbul is to learn about its long past.

You can walk through the Hagia Sophia and be amazed by its beautiful building, or you can walk through the Topkapi Palace and feel like a king or queen for a day. You shouldn’t miss these famous spot. Now, don’t forget to check out the busy markets that are spread out across the city. You can find gifts and flavours that will please your taste buds in the busy Grand Bazaar and the fragrant Spice Market. Istanbul doesn’t let you down when it comes to food.

Have a traditional Turkish breakfast or a filling kebab to treat yourself. If you do this, your taste buds will thank you. The last thing you should do before you leave Istanbul is take a slow ride along the Bosphorus. This beautiful activity gives you stunning views of the city skyline and is a great way to relax after a day of exploring. Okay, now you know what the best things to do in Istanbul are. Your only job is to find them. This city has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in history, food, or just trying new things.

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List of 12 Best Things to Do in Istanbul

Istanbul’s sensory overload is thrilling. Explore crowded bazaars where brilliant colours and unique scents tempt you to bargain. Discover history in stunning mosques and palaces with exquisite architecture and timeless beauty. Turkish cuisine, from delicious kebabs to luscious baklava, will tantalise your taste buds. Bosphorus cruises offer stunning vistas of towering bridges and coastal houses. Explore the city’s energetic nightlife in bars and clubs. Istanbul offers adventures every second.

ActivityDescriptionUnique FeaturesBest Time to Visit
Hagia SophiaAncient religious monument turned museumByzantine architecture, mosaicsEarly morning
Blue MosqueIconic Islamic architectureSix minarets, intricate tileworkEarly afternoon
Grand BazaarHistoric market with diverse offeringsLabyrinthine alleys, bargainingLate morning
Bosphorus CruiseScenic boat ride between Europe and AsiaPanoramic views, historical sitesAfternoon
Topkapi PalaceFormer Ottoman palace and museumStunning gardens, royal artifactsLate morning
Turkish CuisineCulinary adventure with rich flavorsKebabs, baklava, Turkish delightEvening
Turkish HammamTraditional Turkish bathhouse experienceSteam rooms, massagesAfternoon
Galata TowerHistoric tower offering city views360-degree panorama, restaurantSunset
Asian SideLesser-explored part of IstanbulCalmer atmosphere, local cultureMorning
Hidden GemsOff-the-beaten-path discoveriesQuaint neighborhoods, local artAnytime
Chora ChurchByzantine church known for mosaicsIntricate frescoes, historical charmMidday
Suleymaniye MosqueMagnificent Ottoman mosque complexStunning architecture, serene ambianceLate afternoon

Visit the Hagia Sophia

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Iconic Byzantine architecture.
  • Rich history as a church, mosque, and museum.
  • Must-see for its stunning interior and dome.

There is no way to fully appreciate Istanbul’s beauty without seeing the breathtaking Hagia Sophia. This amazing piece of architecture was first built in the sixth century as a temple. It has since been a church, a mosque, and now a museum. When you go inside, you can be amazed by the beautiful Byzantine mosaics, tall dome, and intricate marble pillars that tell the story of Istanbul’s long past.

Want to Know More about Hagia Sophia

Explore the Blue Mosque

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Famous for its blue-tiled interior.
  • Represents classical Ottoman architecture.
  • Offers serene atmosphere and architectural grandeur.

The Blue Mosque, another famous building in Istanbul, is only a few steps away from the Hagia Sophia. This beautiful piece of Ottoman building got its name from the bright blue tiles that cover the inside. People can look around the large patio and be amazed by the beautiful stained glass windows and complicated calligraphy inside the mosque.

Wander through the Grand Bazaar

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • One of the oldest and largest covered markets.
  • Labyrinth of shops selling everything from spices to jewelry.
  • Exudes vibrant atmosphere and rich cultural experience.

The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and biggest covered markets in the world. It’s the best place to feel the real energy of Istanbul. You can get lost in a maze of small streets lined with shops that sell everything from intricate ceramics and spices to hand-woven carpets. Don’t forget to bargain with the sellers to get the best deals, and enjoy the lively atmosphere of this old market.

Cruise the Bosphorus

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Offers breathtaking views of Istanbul’s skyline.
  • Passes by iconic landmarks and palaces.
  • Perfect way to experience the city’s unique geography.

Take to the water and go on a cruise along the Bosphorus, which is the waterway that splits Asia and Europe. As you sail by palaces, mosques, and old fortresses, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning views of Istanbul’s skyline and the cute fishing towns that line the coast. Don’t forget to bring your camera to record the beautiful scenes along this trip.

Marvel at the Topkapi Palace

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Former residence of Ottoman sultans.
  • Houses impressive collections of artifacts and treasures.
  • Provides insights into Ottoman history and culture.

With a trip to the Topkapi Palace, you can go back in time to the rich times of the Ottoman Empire. This huge structure was once the luxurious home of sultans. It is now a museum that tells interesting stories about the empire’s long history. Explore the fancy courtyards, lush gardens, and rooms full of treasures that used to hold the Ottoman dynasty’s crown jewels.

Indulge in Turkish Cuisine

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Diverse and flavorful culinary experience.
  • Famous dishes include kebabs, baklava, and Turkish delight.
  • Reflects influences from various cultures throughout history.

You can’t leave Istanbul without trying some of the city’s delicious food. Turkish food is a real treat that you shouldn’t miss. It has everything from savoury kebabs and hearty stews to sweet cakes and cool mezes. Make sure to eat at local restaurants and buy food from street vendors to experience real flavours and find new favourites.

Relax in a Turkish Hammam

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Traditional Turkish bath experience.
  • Relaxing and rejuvenating ritual.
  • Offers cleansing and pampering in a historic setting.

Take a break in a fancy bathroom and enjoy a traditional Turkish hammam experience. Let skilled staff give you a massage, a steam bath, or a cleansing scrub. You’ll feel relaxed and refreshed afterward. It’s the best way to relax after a day of seeing all of Istanbul’s busy streets.

Climb the Galata Tower

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Historic landmark offering panoramic views of the city.
  • Great spot for photography and sunset views.
  • Features a restaurant and observation deck.

Going to the top of the Galata Tower will give you a great view of Istanbul’s city. This famous landmark, which dates back to the 1400s, has stunning views of the city below, including the historic peninsula, the Golden Horn, and the faraway lands of Asia. Get there early to avoid the crowds and see the city lit up in gold as the sun goes down.

Explore the Asian Side

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Lesser-explored area of Istanbul.
  • Offers a more local and authentic experience.
  • Features parks, neighborhoods, and cultural sites.

To get a change of pace, cross the Bosphorus and go to the Asian side of Istanbul. You can find cute neighbourhoods, busy markets, and peaceful parks all here, ready for you to discover them. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade, eat some authentic Asian food, and soak up the relaxed vibe of this lively neighbourhood.

Discover Hidden Gems

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Off-the-beaten-path attractions and neighborhoods.
  • Opportunities to discover lesser-known treasures.
  • Enhances the overall experience of exploring Istanbul.

Beyond the city’s well-known landmarks are a lot of hidden gems just ready to be found. You can visit less well-known neighbourhoods like Balat and Fener, which have colourful homes and a lot of history. You can also go off the beaten path to find secret cafes, quirky shops, and peaceful courtyards away from the busy city centre.

Chora Church

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Renowned for its stunning Byzantine mosaics and frescoes.
  • Showcases exquisite art and religious history.
  • Offers insights into Byzantine culture and aesthetics.

The Chora Church, which is also known as the Kariye Museum, is a hidden gem on the western edge of Istanbul. It is renowned for its beautiful mosaics and paintings. It was first built in the 4th century as a Byzantine monastery and went through several renovations before becoming a mosque during the Ottoman era. Visitors today can be amazed by the well-preserved Byzantine art that shows scenes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. It’s an interesting way to learn about holy history and art.

Suleymaniye Mosque and Complex

Best Things to Do in Istanbul


  • Architectural masterpiece by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan.
  • Impressive domes and minarets dominating the skyline.
  • Reflects the grandeur and beauty of Ottoman architecture.

The Suleymaniye Mosque and its complex are the peak of Ottoman architecture and culture on one of Istanbul’s seven hills. This 16th-century mosque, built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, has a dome, minarets, and tranquil courtyards. Explore the nearby library, hospital, and madrasas to learn about the Ottoman empire’s faith, scholarship, and philanthropy. From the mosque’s terrace, enjoy magnificent city views and relax in its vast gardens, a serene escape from the metropolis.

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Istanbul has lively marketplaces, delicious food, and famous sites. Explore bustling bazaars and bargain for treasures. Enjoy kebabs, baklava, and other street delicacies at every turn. Climb antique minarets for breathtaking city views. Grand mansions and historic mosques have fascinating histories. Cruise the Bosphorus and see Europe and Asia merge. Wander the historic city’s maze-like streets, discovering hidden gems. Istanbul has a rich tapestry of experiences for culture, food, and adventure seekers. From its lively streets to its towering landmarks, this city promises an extraordinary journey of exploration and awe.


Is 3 days enough to see Istanbul?

You need at least two days to fully experience Istanbul, but we think you should give yourself at least four days. You wouldn’t have enough time to see everything the city has to offer, even If you had a week.

How many days should I spend in Istanbul?

You could easily spend weeks having fun in Istanbul, but we suggest you give yourself 5–7 days to see the city. This length of time lets you fully experience the city’s history, culture, and way of life without feeling rushed.

Is Istanbul very cheap?

Where you eat and sleep, the type of lodging you choose, and the activities and sights you want to see will all affect how much the trip costs. A lot of people from other countries think that Istanbul is one of the cheapest places to visit.


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