In 657 BC, Byzantium, an ancient Greek colony, was established on the European side of the enormous Bosphorus Straits. Emperor Constantine the Great reintroduced the city to the world in 330 AD as the new capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and it became known as Constantinople. Rapidly becoming Europe’s richest metropolis, it sits at a crucial crossroads of the Silk Road trade routes between east and west. 

In Istanbul, there are numerous unusual and must things to do. But, before you set out on your trip, plan how you’ll handle all of Istanbul’s attractions and group them into regions to save unnecessary travels. The good news is that, despite its immense size, Istanbul is very simple to navigate. To get the most out of your vacation to Istanbul, we recommend visiting one region at a time. 

I’m glad you’re searching for something to do in Istanbul! This beautiful old city with a contemporary twist is jam-packed with delectable food, stunning architecture, a rich culture, welcoming people, and a wonderful atmosphere. We spent several wonderful days in this enchanting city, eating, drinking, and seeing as much as possible without exhausting ourselves. And to make things easier for you, we’ve distilled our urban adventures into this handy independent guide to a city holiday in Istanbul. Enjoy! 

Visit Blue Mosque

This magnificent ancient structure was built between 1609 and 1616 and is really beautiful. For many years, the towering five-dome building flanked by six minarets has been the symbol of Istanbul’s skyline. The Blue Mosque’s interior is as magnificent as its façade, with hand-painted blue tiles. The lofty ceiling and colonnades are adorned with swirls of complex eastern designs bathed in the light of medieval chandeliers. 

Keep in mind that the Blue Mosque is a fully functional place of worship, not a museum. Before entering, you must remove your shoes and place them in the supplied bags. Before entering the grounds of Sultan Ahmet Mosque, ladies should cover their hair with a headscarf. The Blue Mosque is available for touring in three sessions most days and is free to visit. We recommend that you look up the opening hours online before going. 

Taksim Square

The prominent plaza is regarded as Istanbul’s contemporary heart. The plaza is undoubtedly one of the most popular gathering places in the city, thanks to its huge bus and metro hub, retail strip, and hotels. The Independence (Republic) Monument is the square’s most significant work of art and a tribute to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Republic of Turkey’s founder. On one side of the monument, Atatürk is shown in his early military days, whereas on the other, he is clothed in contemporary western outfit.  Taksim is where the heart of Istanbul beats. Never-ending fun is always present and colorful city lights are everglowing.

Galata Tower

Galata Tower in Istanbul’s Galata neighborhood offers 360-degree panoramic views of the city. This medieval tower, one of the world’s oldest, was built as a lighthouse in 528 AD. Throughout its history, it was destroyed and rebuilt many times. It was, ironically, destroyed by fire while serving as a fire watchtower. 

The tower isn’t very tall. Although the observation platform is only on the 8th level, it provides spectacular views of Istanbul due to its location on a hillside. On the top level, there’s a café, and one story below, there’s a restaurant. The restaurant is somewhat expensive, but the café is a pleasant place to relax while sipping Turkish tea. For a beautiful view, try to obtain a seat close to one of the windows.