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Top Attractions in Istanbul

Topkapı Palace Museum

Its story goes back to the 4th century. Istanbul, also named Constantinople and ancient Byzantium in history, was the home of the Ottoman Empire before the Turkish Republic was founded. It has been in the spotlight for centuries.

Istanbul, in which two continents meet, is an authentic and unique city that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. With its historic fabric and amazing scenery, Istanbul calls for every traveler around the world. Its ever-growing culture holds unique tastes of Turkish cuisine, streets full of history and unique experiences you should definitely try.

The smell of the spices, the taste of the foamy Turkish coffee and the majestic view of the Bosphorus, your Istanbul trip will be the one to remember.

We can recommend some top tourist attractions where you can discover the Istanbul history and many exciting things to do in Istanbul.

Ideas for your Istanbul Trip

1. A day full of history: Sultanahmet

Our first stop is the famous Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace and Basilica Cistern in Sultanahmet. You can breathe the history in the streets. After you take an astonishing leap back in time with these ancient locations, you can walk to the famous Grand Bazaar which is merely a 15 minute walk from the Blue Mosque. The countless stores filling the maze-like corridors, offer a variety of elegant jewelries, clothing, antiques and traditional confectionary and spices for anyone who wants to experience the joy of shopping in the Grand Bazaar. Finally, before you leave, you must try the famous meatballs of Sultanahmet at Sultanahmet Köftecisi and eat traditional deserts at Hafız Mustafa 1864. And at the end of your day, you make your way to the Gülhane Park and relax on the grass listening to the chirping of birds.

You can check our Guided Museum Pass Istanbul for an extended visit to the historical peninsula or the Istanbul Classics – Old City Tour.

2. A day in touch with nature: Princes’ Islands

prince-islands

One of the most memorable attractions in Istanbul is a visit to the Princes’ Islands. You can have a beautiful day at the islands, in touch with the nature, and breathe fresh air. You can rent a bike and cycle around the island or take a horse-drawn carriage ride. There are numerous antique houses and historical monuments you can explore. And the restaurants in Princes’ Islands are particularly famous for their fish meals. If you want to spend a day full of green and blue, you must see our Princes’ Islands Full Day Tour. 

3. A day of shopping spree: Istiklal Street

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Istiklal Street is one of the most iconic streets of Istanbul. It is located in the famous neighborhood Taksim. With its beautiful showcases and endless stores, you will enjoy a long walk at this must-see destination. From the most expensive to the most affordable, there are countless stores where you can flatter yourself or your loved ones with beautiful gifts. As your next stop, you can go to the Galata Tower to take the most amazing photographs of Istanbul from the top of the tower. You can finish the day with a foamy Turkish Coffee at the nearby cafes. Also lokum, a soft and sweet traditional confectionery, served on the side of the coffee, is a particular favorite of Turkish coffee lovers. A Genoese walk is a great option for gourmets, photographers and shoppers.    

4. A traditional day: Bosphorus Tour

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The most essential part of an Istanbul visit is the Bosphorus tour. In between the European and Asian sides, the magnificent scenery of the Bosphorus is a must-see of Istanbul. You will pass through countless historical monuments lining the coast. The soft breeze of the Bosphorus is the essence of Istanbul. If you want to learn about the stories hidden in the Bosphorus from a local expert guide, join our Cruise on Bosphorus & Black Sea Full Day tour which includes a visit to Ortaköy, Küçüksu and Rumeli Hisarı Fortress, Anadolu Kavağı, Poyrazkoy and Black Sea, with snacks and lunch on the boat. Also, an alternative option is Bosphorus Cruise & Sightseeing Golden Horn tour which includes a visit to the famous Spice Bazaar and the Rüstem Pasha Mosque. Either way, you can end your day with an unforgettable Turkish Night: Bosphorus Dinner and & Show Cruise. Don’t forget to try the famous Turkish alcoholic beverage rakı!

5. A day like a local: Kadıköy- Beşiktaş-Karaköy

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If you are wondering how an Istanbul local lives, and want to blend in, you should visit Kadıköy, Beşiktaş or Karaköy. All three neighborhoods have an exciting night life as well as tiny cafes and authentic stores. You can eat where locals eat, drink where they drink, and shop where they shop. Here are some recommendations for your day:

  • A nice cup of coffee at Cherry Bean Coffees at Moda, Kadıköy. 
  • A cold beer at Belfast Irish Pub at Moda, Kadıköy.
  • Kokoreç and drink ayran at Şampiyon Kokoreç, Beşiktaş.
  • A dinner full of traditional flavors at Mavi Balık, Beşiktaş.
  • Countless choices of teas at Dem, Karaköy.
  • Baklava at Karaköy Güllüoğlu, Karaköy.

Their narrow streets have the most intimate feel. There are ferries in between these three neighborhoods. You can watch the sunset on the ferry and throw pieces of simit, a traditional Turkish bagel, to the seagulls surrounding the boat. Every local in Istanbul must have tried to feed the seagulls with simit at least once in their life.

Life in Istanbul is fast, it is complex, and it contains hidden beauties waiting to be discovered. Istanbul.com provides well-planned, tours with local expert guides to make your Istanbul trip full of unforgettable experiences. Check out our other tours to discover Istanbul’s secrets and enjoy a comfortable travel. Istanbul is waiting for you and we are ready to show you the treasures of Istanbul.

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