Top 22 destinations in Istanbul that must be seen

Top 22 destinations in Istanbul that must be seen

Istanbul is the only city in the world that placed both in Europe and the Asia. A huge metropolis with a long history and rich cultural heritage attracts travelers from all over the world who come here to enjoy the oriental flavor and see how Europe and Asia merge together. We have compiled a list of places, visiting which you will discover Istanbul from the most unexpected sides!

The Blue Mosque

Let’s start with the classics: The Blue Mosque is, without exaggeration, a symbol of the city, the most photoed and popular of the mosques in Istanbul. This majestic mosque was built by order of the Turkish Sultan Akhmet I. For a long time he suffered defeats – the poor fellow could not win a single war. The only thing left to do was to rely on God’s grace, so the sultan set about building the Blue Mosque.

Top 22 destinations in Istanbul that must be seen
The Blue Mosque

Curiously, the Blue Mosque does not have four minarets, as it should be, but six. According to one version, this is just an architect’s mistake, which became the highlight of this magnificent mosque.

Address: Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydanı Cd. No: 7, 34122 Fatih / İstanbul
Opening hours: daily from 9:00 to 19:00; Sunday – from 9:00 to 7:00

You can see the roof and the minarets of Blue Mosque during boat tours on Bosphorus.

Hagia Sophia

And don’t be scared by the crowds of tourists! This is one of the traditional must-see places in Istanbul that definitely deserves to be seen, even in the company of a crowd. Hagia Sophia is located opposite the Blue Mosque, so it will be a logical continuation of your route.

Before the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Hagia Sophia was considered the largest temple in Christendom. In the Hagia Sofia, surprisingly quotes from the Koran and Christian frescoes harmoniously coexist.

Top 22 destinations in Istanbul that must be seen
Hagia Sofia

With more than a thousand years of history, Hagia Sophia was originally a Byzantine Christian temple, later captured and turned into a Muslim shrine. Now Hagia Sofia is a mosque so you’ll need to be in formal wearing (no open legs, and uncovered heads for women) to enter into it.

Address: Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih / İstanbul
Opening hours: daily, except Mondays, from 9:30 to 16:30. Closed to the public on Mondays.

Basilica Cistern

Further along the way is the Basilica Cistern – in the past the reservoir of Constantinople, now it is a favorite place for tourists, where you can plunge into the mystical atmosphere and have an interesting time. There are 336 marble columns that support the vaults of the Cistern! Most of them are taken from ancient temples, but each has its own history. At the base of two columns are the heads of Medusa the Gorgon, one of which is turned to the side. The story says that this is done so that those who enter are not afraid to turn to stone, looking into the eyes of the Gorgon.

Top 22 destinations in Istanbul that must be seen
Basilica Cistern

And if you have read Dan Brown’s novel “Inferno”, then you will be doubly interested, because the final events of this exciting detective story was here in Basilica Cistern.

Address: Alemdar Mh., Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34410 Fatih
Opening hours: daily from 9:00 to 18:30 (in winter from 9:00 to 17:30). Currently (autumn 2021) the attraction is closed for renovation.
Entrance fee: is 20 liras (€ 1.78).

Topkapi Palace

In the old days, it was the main palace of the Ottoman Empire and the residence of its sultans, in particular, the well-known Suleiman the Magnificent and his concubine Roksolana. In the palace you can see the former luxury of the Sultan’s life, consider the elements of the life of those times. For example, the porcelain collection, which is the third largest in the world. The terrace with an amazing view of the Bosphorus and the city will enhance the amazing experience.

Top 22 destinations in Istanbul that must be seen
Topkapi Palace

Address: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih / İstanbul,
Opening hours: daily 9:00 – 18:00, Tuesday – closed
Entrance cost: to the palace – 100 liras (€ 9), to the harem – 70 liras (€ 6), children under 9 years old – free, children 10-12 years old – 50% discount

Park Gulhane

Side by side with Topkapi Palace is one of the oldest parks in Istanbul, formerly part of the royal gardens. Today Gulhane is open to everyone.

The park’s observation deck offers a magnificent view of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. When you admire the view and take great photos, you can look into the aquarium or the Science and Technology Museum located here. The best time to visit the park is spring – at this time you will find the park in all its blooming beauty. And in April, the part of an annual tulip festival is also held here.

Address: Cankurtaran Mh., Kennedy Cd., 34122 Fatih
Working hours: from 9:00 to 17:00

Park Miniaturk

If you want to get acquainted not only with Istanbul, but also with the whole of Turkey, and without leaving Istanbul, then this is quite possible – go to Miniaturk Park. Here are collected miniatures of architectural masterpieces of Turkey (and not only), made on a scale of 1:25.

Here you will find everything – from the Bosphorus Bridge and the Maiden’s Tower to the city walls of Constantinople and the Mausoleum of Helikarnassus.

Address: Örnektepe Mahallesi, İmrahor Cd. 7/1, 34445 Beyoğlu
Opening hours: daily from 9:00 to 18:00.
Entrance fee: 10 liras (€ 0.9).


Rumelihisar is an oasis of peace and quiet in the center of the European part of Istanbul. And if you want to take a break from the noisy streets and bazaars, come here. The fortress is located on the shores of the Bosphorus, and its walls offer a breathtaking view of the strait and the Asian part of the city.

For history fans, there is an artillery museum.

Address: Rumeli Hisarı, Yahya Kemal Cd., 34470 Sarıyer
Opening hours: the fortress is open from Monday to Sunday. 9: 00-18: 00 (spring-summer), in winter and autumn the fortress closes at 16:30
Entrance fee: 5 liras (€ 0.4).

Galata Tower

The most prominent (literally) landmark of Istanbul.

Top 22 destinations in Istanbul that must be seen
Galata Tower

A dizzying panorama of the city opens up from the 61-meter tower, so it’s worth to climb on it. Entrance fee is 25 TL (€ 8).

Address: Bereketzade Mahallesi, Galata Kulesi Sk., 34421 Beyoğlu
Opening hours: from 9:00 to 20:30
Entrance fee: 25 liras (€ 2).


One of the most beautiful mosques in Istanbul is famous for the fact that Sultan Suleiman and his wife, Roksolana, are buried in it.

The mosque complex includes not only the temple itself, but also baths, an observatory, a madrasah (schools) and a library – there is something to see.

Address: Bereketzade Mahallesi, Galata Kulesi Sk., 34421 Beyoğlu
Working hours: Suleymaniye is an active mosque, and during the service the entrance to it is closed to tourists. You can get into it between 9: 00-12: 30, 13: 45-15: 45.
The entrance fee is free.

Grand Bazaar

The best place to fully immerse yourself in the rhythm of Istanbul life and experience this city, and also to have a good bargain or learn this skill. The Grand Bazaar is located in the heart of Istanbul, in the Sultanahmet district, close to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. But this is not just one of the largest market in the world, but a whole city within a city. Just imagine: 61 streets, 4400 shops and shops, fountains, mosques, cafes, a school and even a bathhouse.

Top 22 destinations in Istanbul that must be seen
Grand Bazaar

Keep in mind that the prices are very high here, so if you decide to buy something, bargain with all your might.

Address: Beyazıt Mh., Kalpakçılar Cd. No: 22, 34126 Fatih
Working hours: every day, except Sundays and holidays, from 09-00 to 19-00.
The entrance fee is free.


Perhaps the most “non-Turkish” architectural landmark of Istanbul from the standard list of “what to see in Istanbul” is the Dolmabahce Palace. This is the official residence of the Prime Minister of Turkey. Built in the Baroque style, it is located on the European coast of the Bosphorus and was the seat of Turkish rulers until 1938. Today you can visit the palace itself from 9:00 to 16:00, other pavilions – from 9:00 to 17:00 (except Monday and Thursday).

Note: Dolmabahce receives no more than 3000 visitors per day, so it is better to come early, especially during the high season.

Address: Vişnezade Mahallesi, Dolmabahçe Cd., 34357 Beşiktaş
Opening hours: every day, except Monday, from 09-00 to 16-00.

Chora Monastery (Kariye Museum)

In fact, Kariye (or Chora) is an old Byzantine church in one of the residential areas of Istanbul. Due to its remoteness from the beaten tourist routes, it is not very popular and well-known. And in vain – in the museum of the church there is a unique collection of Byzantine frescoes and mosaics of the XIV century.

Opening hours of the church-museum – Tuesday-Thursday 9: 00-19: 30 (April-October). The rest of the time, the museum closes at 16:30.

Address: Dervişali Mahallesi, Kariye Cami Sk. No: 8, 34087 Fatih
Opening hours: daily from 09-00 to 17-00.
The entrance fee is 15 liras (€ 1.3), with Museum Pass Istanbul it is free.

Museum of mosaics

For those who like to delve into the past, the Istanbul Mosaic Museum is just what you need. The exposition of the museum contains mosaics found during excavations in the Sultanahmet area.

The exhibits are older than the world famous Hagia Sophia mosaics, and some of them even date back to the era of pagan Rome!

Address: Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, 34122 Fatih
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday from 9: 00-19: 00 (April-October), the rest of the time the museum is open until 17:00. Monday is a day off.
Entrance fee – 20 liras (€ 1.8).

Pera Museum

The museum occupies the building of the former Bristol Hotel in the Beyoglu district. Its exposition includes a collection of weights and measures of Anatolia, an exhibition of coffee porcelain from Kutahya, as well as various ceramics and a collection of Turkish paintings of the 17th-19th centuries. There are also temporary exhibitions: museums around the world often exhibit their collections here.

Address: Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi, Meşrutiyet Cd. No: 65, 34430 Beyoğlu
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 to 18:00 and on Sundays from 12:00 to 18:00.
Entrance fee – 20 lira (€ 1.7), for children under 12 years old, pensioners and students – 10 lira (€ 0.9). Admission is free for students on Wednesdays.

Skyscraper “Sapphire”

If you are afraid of heights, skip this point and read on, but if not, remember. You can see Istanbul at a glance from the observation deck of the Sapphire skyscraper. Located at an altitude of 236 meters, it offers a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the city. We recommend that you look here in the evening, when it starts to get dark and the city lights up with millions of lights – the view is simply mesmerizing!

Top 22 destinations in Istanbul that must be seen
Skyscraper “Sapphire”

Address: Emniyetevleri Mahallesi, Eski Büyükdere Cd. No: 1, 34415 Kağıthane
Opening hours: daily from 10:00 to 22:00
Entrance fee – 18 liras (€ 1.6). Entrance tickets are sold at the box office, on the top floor of the shopping center.

Chukurjuma Market

But on the other hand, you can buy anything there – from various handicrafts to porcelain sets, designer jewelry and vintage clothing.

Address: Firuzağa Mahallesi, 34425 Beyoğlu

Istanbul Aquarium

If you find yourself in Istanbul in summer, we recommend visiting the Aquarium to escape the heat. Here you will not only take a break from the city noise and heat, but also peacefully observe the oceanic fauna, which is represented here in all its diversity.

Address: Şenlikköy Mahallesi, Florya Caddesi, Yeşilköy Halkalı Cd. No: 93, 34153 Bakırköy
Opening hours: daily from 10:00 to 20:00
Entrance fee – 85 TL (€ 7.5), when buying online – 76.5 TL (€ 7), for children under 2 years old – free.

Flower Passage (Çiçek Pasajı)

This historic building, richly decorated with stucco and sculptures, is located in the European part of Istanbul on Istiklal Street.

There are shops and cafes in the passage, but you should come here primarily not for shopping (prices are quite high here), but to plunge into the atmosphere of 19th century Istanbul.

Ali Usta Ice Cream Parlor

It is impossible to visit Istanbul and not taste the traditional Turkish ice cream! For this purpose, Ali Usta ice cream parlor is perfect. Just imagine – more than 40 varieties of ice cream made according to a traditional recipe with the addition of powder from mountain orchid tubers!

The taste palette is also impressive: in addition to the traditional vanilla or coffee, you will be offered pistachio, lemon, rum and many others. You can find out about the whole range on the institution’s website.

Address: Caferağa Mahallesi, Moda Cd., 34710 Kadıköy
Opening hours: daily from 07:00 to 02:00

Confectionery “Hafiz Mustafa”

Another gastronomic stop in the Turkish capital is the Hafiz Mustafa confectionery. Founded in 1864, it is still famous for the widest range of traditional Turkish sweets, as well as coffee and spices. On the second floor, there is a cafe where visitors can taste the goods they just bought.

Istanbul’s cuisine deserves special attention, tourists simply adore it! If you want to taste it properly, the excursion “Cancers, fish, meykhane, or a pleasant evening in Turkish” is just what you need, and for those who want something more colorful, we advise you to immediately go on a gastro tour of local street food.

Address: Hocapasa Mahallesi Muradiye Caddesi No: 51, Sirkeci – Fatih; Hobyar Mahallesi Hamidiye Cad. No: 84 Bahçekapı Eminönü; Divanyolu Cad. No: 14 Sultanahmet; Gümüşsuyu Mah. Sıraselviler Cad. No: 7 / B Beyoğlu.
Opening hours: daily from 07:00 to 02:00

Maiden’s Tower

Located on a tiny island in the Bosphorus, the tower is rightfully considered one of the symbols of Istanbul. This is not only a popular vacation spot for tourists and locals – a beautiful view of the Bosphorus opens up from its observation deck.

Top 22 destinations in Istanbul that must be seen
Maiden’s Tower

Address: Salacak Mahallesi, Üsküdar Salacak Mevkii, 34668 Üsküdar
Opening hours: to get to the tower, you need to take a boat at the Kabatash pier (runs from 09:00 to 21:30) or Saladjak (09: 00-24: 00).

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art

Well, if you are serious and want to not only superficially get acquainted with the cultural capital of Turkey, but to understand its history and spirit deeper, we advise you to visit the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art.

Its exposition includes more than 40,000 exhibits: manuscripts, calligraphy, ceramics, carpets, jewelry and much more. By visiting the museum, you will discover all the diversity and richness of the local culture and, undoubtedly, will want to come back here again. However, I think you have no doubts about that anymore!

Address: Salacak Mahallesi, Üsküdar Salacak Mevkii, 34668 Üsküdar
Opening hours: daily, except Monday, from 9:00 to 17:00.
Entrance fee – 25 liras (€ 2).

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