people walking on street near brown concrete building during daytime

Top 10 Things to do in Istanbul

Istanbul, the junction between Europe and Asia, is fascinating to visit where west meets east and east meets west. Istanbul is a great place to plan a vacation; there are so many things to do in Istanbul, such as exploring the architecture of the Ottoman empire to having fun parties in the evening.

If you’ve never been to Turkey, deciding what to do and what to miss is hard. This article lists the top 10 things to do in Istanbul based on their dynamic aspects and not on their popularity.

aerial view of buildings and flying birds

Trip to Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia was initially built as a church by Byzantine emperors almost 15 centuries ago and then turned museum and now turned recently into a mosque by the Turkey government. Hagia Sofia is a must-see place when visiting Istanbul; you can spend hours looking at the splendour of architecture of the mosque.

Even now, its walls are covered with Byzantine mosaics depicting feature portraits of ancient rulers and depictions of Christ, making it an architectural masterpiece.

people walking on street near brown concrete building during daytime
Hagia Sofia

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace is situated near Hagia Sofia so you can plan to visit both of them in a day. Topkapi was used to be the residency of the Ottoman empire, and now it is turned into a museum adorned with the weapons of the Ottoman emperors.

For over half a century, generations of sultans lived in this complex of kiosks and pavilions surrounded by four beautiful green courtyards. Topkapi Palace is an attraction which you will regret to miss.

Interior of Topkapi Palace

Exploring Basilica Cistern

Visiting Basilica Cistern is a must thing to do when in Istanbul. This depicts that the turkey isn’t only amazing from the above and the underground. It was built 15 centuries ago in the sixth century to store 80,000m3 capacity. This magnificent feat of Byzantine engineering is a stunning underground cistern that originally carried drinking water from contemporary Bulgaria to Istanbul via aqueducts.

Some find it lovely, with low lighting and classical music to the background sound of pouring water, while others find it rather eerie.

Basilica Cistern

Explore the Amazing Food to Excite your Taste Buds

Istanbul loves to eat, and you can get the chance to eat some of the most amazing Turkish food in Istanbul. Turkish cuisine is simply a treat to your taste buds. You can forget about the European or Asian cuisine there. When in Istanbul, there are a variety of eateries in which you can try out their traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

cooked meat with sliced lemon on white ceramic plate
Turkish Food

Relax at Hamam

Nothing beats getting cleansed in a hamam to refresh your body. After a hard day of traveling, imagine relaxing in a steamy chamber, resting on heated marble, listening to the echoes of flowing water, wearing nothing but a cotton rag. Then a sultan’s massage till your skin is smooth and silky, followed by a quick soapy body scrub.

In the city, there are various hamams. The Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam and Klç Ali Paşa Hamam are among the oldest. The first is on Sultanahmet Square, while the second is at Tophane-Karaköy, not far from Istanbul Modern.

Thermal Pools

Shop from Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar is the oldest bazaar in Istanbul, almost 500 years old. There are 5000 businesses, 60 restaurants, 18 fountains, 12 mosques, and even a school on its 60 streets.

It is so big that there are chances that you can get lost here, so keep track of where you’ve entered while wandering in the bazaar. You can buy spices, leather, bags, and even decoration pieces to take back home to have some of the visual memories with you.

assorted figurine lot
Grand Bazaar

Archaeology Museum

The archaeology museum isn’t a very famous and popular tourist attraction. Hence, people mostly miss it out, which is sad because archaeology is the real treasure of Istanbul. After all, it has a unique and large collection of antiques.

The magnificent tomb of Alexander the Great portrays crucial stages of his life, the blue-tiled Karaman Mihrab, the lovely Tiled Pavilion, and the Pact of Kadesh – the world’s first surviving peace treaty – are among the top attractions here.

Alexander Sarcophagus, Istanbul Archaeological Museum | Image source: Kingbjelica, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is situated near Topkapi Palace so you can arrange some time to visit the archaeology museum.

Take one of Istanbul’s boats.

Climbing on one of Istanbul’s famed flotilla of boats is a must-do activity. A commuter ferry ride between Asia and Europe is difficult to beat. Still, the Bosphorus tourist ferries that travel the great strait from Eminönü to the mouth of the Black Sea are even better, offering passengers views of palaces, parks, and ornate timber mansions on both the Asian and European shores. Whether you choose a long or short cruise makes no difference: both will be unforgettable.

white and red boat on sea during daytime
Istanbul Ferry Rides

Visit Gulhane Park

Gulhane Park is situated next to the Topkapi Palace. Gulhane Park is one of the oldest and largest public places. It is present in the heart of crowded Istanbul.

If you’re visiting Istanbul in turkey in spring, then don’t forget to visit Gulhane park as tulips bloom in the spring season, giving a beautiful sight. One of the palace’s largest gates may be found near the park’s south entrance of the park.

Gülhane Park | Image Source: Maurice Flesier, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy Istanbul’s nightlife.

Though Istanbul’s nightlife sector has endured setbacks, a decent party town can’t be stopped. For a typical night out, visit one of the Beyoglu district’s meyhanes, tavern-style eateries offering meze and fish, where classic song sing-alongs flow with each fresh round of rak, an anise-flavored liquor.

 Crowds of youthful beer drinkers pack the pubs of Beşiktaş arş and downtown Kadköy, while a swankier set drinks cocktails along the Bosphorus in Bebek and Arnavutköy’s restaurants and cafés. Finish the evening by joining your fellow revellers in the lineup for some late-night street food for the complete Istanbul experience.

sufi dancers
The Whirling Dervishes of Istanbul


So that’s it! These were the top 10 things to do in Istanbul. You can visit many other spots if you plan a long visit, but if you have a limited time, then these recommendations are ago.

We have covered every sort of thing to do in Istanbul, from visiting historical places to enjoying a bath in Hamas.

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