Istanbul is one of the most unique cities in the world, because half of the city lies in Europe while the other half lies in Asia. The influence of different cultures over the centuries has left an indelible mark on the many things to do in Istanbul.
From beautiful Mosques to hectic bazaars, this is an exciting city to spend some time in.
These are the seven best things to do in Istanbul.
Best things to do in IstanbulHow do these rankings work?
The Blue Mosque stands out as Istanbul’s most famous landmark and is one of the most visited sites. Its sheer architectural beauty from the outside is no match for the expansive and beautifully-decorated interior of the Mosque.
This is a must-visit when you’re in Istanbul, but be sure to cover up as this is still a place of worship today.
The Hagia Sophia Museum used to be a mosque but has since converted into a grand structure that, like the Blue Mosque, is more magnificent on the inside. Once inside you can look up and marvel at the intricate detail of the dome some 200 feet above you.
This architectural wonder of a museum just might be the most detailed museum you will ever go to in your life.
The Grand Bazaar is where you go to for shopping and bargain hunting. At this shopping area, there are more than 5,000 stores spread out across 60 streets where you can buy just about anything here.
The history of bargain hunting at the Grand Bazaar stretches back over 500 years, so it’s only right for you to carry on the tradition here.
The Galata Tower in Istanbul offers sprawling, panoramic views of the city. It is located in a very lively neighbourhood and the tower is only nine stories high.
Make your way up the Galata Tower in time for the sunset and then stop by a restaurant or cafe in this energetic Galata neighbourhood.
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums are a collection of three separate museums that showcase the history of Istanbul and classic antiquities dating back centuries. Perhaps the crown jewel here is the sarcophagus of former ruler Alexander the Great.
To gain a real understanding of the different empires that have ruled Istanbul in the past, you must come to these museums.
Topkapi Palace is another historical gem in Istanbul and is where Ottoman Sultans ruled from for four centuries. This site became a museum in 1924 and is one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist activities. There’ so many different exhibits to see here.
Come to this palace for fantastic architecture and the throne of the sultan in the Imperial Hall.
The Basilica Cistern is an important landmark in Istanbul and is most notable for its location: underground. You might recognise it as the location of the final scene in the thrilling movie, Inferno, starring Tom Hanks.
You can visit the Cistern through a tour group or you can pay for tickets on your own. Either way, it is worth checking out this historic underground reservoir.