Istanbul, Turkey is a city of grandeur and immense beauty. It is the only city in the world that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia. The city is a captivating mix of grand architecture, ancient history, and vibrant culture. It’s a city where every turn reveals a new story, and every sight is a feast for the eyes. With so much to see and do, here are the top things to do in Istanbul.
Explore the Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar, or Kapali Carsi, is a massive indoor market that dates back to the 15th century. Spanning over 60 streets and housing over 5,000 shops, it’s one of the largest bazaars in the world. Here, you can find everything from jewelry and textiles to spices and souvenirs. It’s a maze-like experience that is not to be missed.
Visit the Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia is a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture and was once the largest church in the world. Built in 537 AD, it has been a place of worship for Christians and Muslims alike. Today, it’s a museum and a testament to the city’s rich history. The Hagia Sophia is a true wonder that will leave you in awe.
Cruise the Bosphorus Strait
The Bosphorus Strait separates Europe and Asia and is a vital shipping channel for the city. A boat tour of the strait is a fantastic way to see the city from a different angle. You’ll pass by opulent mansions, ancient fortresses, and the iconic Bosphorus Bridge. It’s a scenic and tranquil experience that is perfect for couples and families.
Visit the Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque, or Sultanahmet Mosque, is one of the most iconic landmarks of Istanbul. Built in the early 17th century, it is famous for its stunning blue tiles that line the interior walls. It’s a mosque that is still active today, and visitors are welcome to explore its beauty during non-prayer times.
Take a dip in a Turkish Bath
A Turkish bath, or hammam, is a traditional way of cleansing and relaxing that dates back to Ottoman times. The hammam is a steam room where you’ll enjoy a full-body scrub and massage. It’s a unique and authentic experience that will leave you feeling revitalized and refreshed.
Explore the Topkapi Palace
The Topkapi Palace is a sprawling complex that was once the seat of the Ottoman Empire. Built in the 15th century, it is now a museum that houses some of the empire’s most valuable treasures. You’ll see the incredible architecture, decorated interiors, and beautiful gardens that make this palace an unforgettable experience.
Visit the Spice Bazaar
The Spice Bazaar, or Mısır Çarşısı, is Istanbul’s second-largest covered market. It’s a sensory delight, with aromatic spices, fragrant teas, and delicious Turkish delights on offer. It’s a fantastic place to shop for souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home.
Take in the view from Galata Tower
The Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower that offers panoramic views of the city. The tower is over 60 meters tall and was once used as a watchtower for the city’s defenders. Today, it’s a popular attraction that offers visitors a unique view of Istanbul’s skyline.
Explore the Chora Museum
The Chora Museum, or Kariye Museum, is a Byzantine church that was converted into a mosque during Ottoman times. Now it’s a museum that houses some of the most stunning Byzantine mosaics and frescoes in the world. It’s a hidden gem that is off the beaten path but well worth the effort to visit.
Wander through the Dolmabahçe Palace
The Dolmabahçe Palace is a 19th-century palace that was once the residence of the Ottoman sultans. It’s a fascinating blend of European and Ottoman architectural styles, with opulent interiors and gardens that will leave you in awe. It’s a unique and luxurious experience that is not to be missed.
Q: How do I get around Istanbul?
A: Istanbul has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses, trams, and ferries. The most popular way to get around is the Metro, which connects most of the city’s major attractions.
Q: What’s the best time to visit Istanbul?
A: The best time to visit Istanbul is during the spring (April-May) and fall (September-November), when the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner.
Q: What should I wear when visiting mosques?
A: When visiting mosques, you should dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees. Women are also required to cover their heads.
Q: What’s the currency in Istanbul?
A: The currency in Istanbul is the Turkish lira.
Q: What is Turkish cuisine like?
A: Turkish cuisine is a blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors with dishes like kebabs, mezze plates, and baklava.
Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Istanbul
1. Hagia Sophia
2. Blue Mosque
3. Topkapi Palace
4. Grand Bazaar
5. Bosphorus Strait
6. Spice Bazaar
7. Chora Museum
8. Galata Tower
9. Dolmabahce Palace
10. Turkish Bath