Top Things to Do in Istanbul Turkey

Istanbul is an amalgamation of culture, traditions, and vibrancy in every sense. The city is an exceptional place to visit to revel in its heritage influenced by the two continents, numerous tales, and a cuisine that is as diverse as its culture.


If you are planning to visit the city soon, here are the best things to do in Istanbul Turkey. You might not find all the obvious places to visit, but there are a few hidden gems in the list that you are unlikely to find anywhere else.

1. Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

You might want to wear your haggling cap while stepping on to the Grand Bazaar Istanbul Turkey. With 500 years of existence, the Grand Bazaar is one of the largest covered bazaars in the world. It has 60 alleys lined with 5000 shops, 12 mosques, 60 restaurants, and 18 fountains inside. The bazaar is huge enough to even include a school in its premises.


The market sells all exotic items you will find in turkey including ceramics, leather, textiles, carpets, jewelry, and souvenirs. Once you enter what feels like a labyrinth of stalls, it is easy to get lost in the beautiful chaos.

2. Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia has a complex history as it stood through many turns of events. It was once a church, then a mosque and now a museum, and is certainly one of the biggest architectural achievements of the world itself.


The structure will leave you in awe with its spacious and stunning architectural elements,  especially the 43-meter wide dome. Get to the gallery to gaze at the stunning marvel of the Byzantine architecture, and the intricate patterns cast by the mosaics.

3. Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Istanbul is a place equally fascinating both above and below the ground The Basilica Cistern is an engineering marvel, an underground cistern supported by 336 columns, once used to bring drinking water from current Bulgaria to Istanbul through aqueducts. While a few travelers seem to be amazed by the walkways and the sound of water, there are others who find it spooky at the same time. Anyhow, if you are a history or architecture buff, then this place should definitely go on the list.

4. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Once the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans, today it is the most astonishing museum in Istanbul. It provides an impression on how the lifestyle of the royalty was, the place of women in the culture and houses the treasury of the Ottoman empire.


Some of the top attractions of the Topkapi Palace museum include the Ottoman imperial harem, Topkapi dagger, weapons, armor, clothing and many more, The architecture and layout of the complex itself are very inspiring. At the far end, you can also see breathtaking views of Bosphorus and the Sea Marmara.

5. Bosphorus Cruise

Bosphorus Cruise

The beautiful river of Bosphorus holds a very important position both geographically and politically. Connecting seas and continents, the river’s bank see two civilizations on its sides,  Europe and Asia. It is no wonder that a cruise along the waters of Bosphorus is deemed one of the top things to do in Istanbul.


There are two trips one can take on a cruise; the shorter one to the second suspension bridge and the longer one that takes you all the way to the Black Sea.

6. Süleymaniye Mosque

Süleymaniye Mosque

Istanbul is home more than one brilliant mosque. Apart from the Blue Mosque, the Suleymaniye Mosque is another impressive building which you can enjoy without being bombarded by tourists everywhere.


The mosque complex is not only a place of worship but also includes other buildings like a school, a kitchen, a hospital, and much more. It also houses the tomb of Suleyman, Sinan, and Roxalana. Also, visit the Alley of Addicts that is brimming with interesting tales and now a few amazing restaurants to try authentic Turkish cuisine.

7. Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace

The fascinating Dolmabahçe Palace complex was built in 1856. Though the intention was to prove that the Ottoman empire is still thriving. However, that was not the outcome of the palace. Nevertheless, it is still ostentatious with gold leaf, crystals, and marble used excessively throughout the palace interiors.


Some of the outstanding features here are the Baccarat crystal staircase, the 4.5 ton chandelier, and the impressive luxury of the main bathroom.

8. Ortaköy and Bebek

Ortaköy and Bebek

A little away from the hustle of Istanbul, Ortaköy and Bebek are two villages just by the bank of the Bosphorus. It is still not that popular among tourists, so is a great place to escape the crowd and experience the culture through a different perspective.


Bebek is in fact considered the weekend getaway choice of the locals of Istanbul. There are many quaint cafes, restaurants, and lively nightlife. Ortaköy is a place you come across during the Bosphorus cruise and a lovely place to visit with an attractive mosque, Sunday markets, and pedestrianized cobblestone streets.

9. Galata Tower

Galata Tower

Galata Tower is one of the best places in the city to get panoramic views. The 60-meter high tower offers unobstructed views and also has a restaurant on the ninth floor offering the same views.


What is more exciting there are the streets surrounding the tower. There are many cafes with terraces looking towards the sea and plenty of shops to get the time pass.

10. Archeology Museum

Archeology Museum

The Archeology Museum in Istanbul is not as boring as you would imagine. It houses many gems and some of the richest collections of antiquities. The sarcophagus of Alexander the Great, the Karaman Mihrab with its glittering blue tiles, the Treaty of Kadesh and the Tiled Pavilion are all unique items that one must see while in Istanbul.


Add these places to the list of things you want to do in Istanbul and you are assured to have a very memorable time there.


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