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10 Most Beautiful Places to visit in Istanbul

April 24, 2024
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Amidst the meeting point of two continents lies a city that harbors the history of many empires. From the capital of Eastern Rome to the Turkish Empire, Istanbul has many tales that must be experienced for its scenic routes, beautiful vantage points, diverse architecture, and, yes, cats if they are your favorite animal.

places to visit in istanbul

A calendar favorite from April to May and September to October, attractions in Istanbul are galore and in a league of their own. If you just so happen to visit the marquee city at the turn of the season, we’re sure this write-up will help you immensely.

So, get ready with your planner as we cover the best places to visit in Istanbul.

1. Hagia Sophia Mosque

A picturesque mosque that feels right from the world of Prince of Persia, the Hagia Sophia Mosque houses over 30 million gold tiles throughout its gorgeous framework. An architectural marvel, this mosque built in the 6th century needs at least a couple of hours of your time to take in the niche detailing its wall inscribe. With the color palette sparkling and diverse throughout its running, we would like to know if the designer in you finds some inspiration among one of the best attractions in Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia Mosque

  • Address: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
  • Opening Time: 24 hours open

2. Galata Tower

If you are a keen observer and like to take a panoramic view, the Galata Watchtower is one of the best spots for your Istanbul sightseeing goals. Also coined by the name Galata Kulesi Museum for its exhibition prowess, the lanes surrounding the historic epic are home to many shops and food joints that will surely pamper you with their welcoming warmth.

Galata Tower

  • Where: Bereketzade, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye
  • Time: 8:30am-10:00pm

3. Bosphorus Strait

If you love a transient view of the ocean and the city that joins in, the Bosphorus Strait must be one of the best tourist places in Istanbul for you. With an inland canal filled with ferries and a Turkey flag hoisted on all of them, you instantly feel a vibrant charm that gets further catalyzed by the crystal-clear blue water, fueled further by the prominent billing Hollywood star feeling that you’ll have when you cross the place on a private boat tour.

Bosphorus Strait

  • Open: Mon-Fri, 24 hours

4. Topkapi Palace

The address to the royal family of the Ottoman Empire for nearly 400 years, the Topkapi Palace, transports you back to what it must have been to be an elitist. Home to fabulous courtyards, a sea-view-looking watchtower, pavilions that stretch far, and niche artifacts and collectibles belonging to the royal family, the Topkapi Palace gives you a first-hand experience of one of the places of interest in Istanbul with great historical significance laced with beauty, phenomenal architecture, and four centuries worth of treasured history. Also, as an add-on, if you find yourself more attuned to stories attached to the palace, you can always book a private Tour.

Topkapi Palace

  • Location: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
  • Timings: 9 AM to 6 PM (Except Tuesdays)

5. Blue Mosque

Amongst the top sights in Istanbul, the Blue Mosque is as mysterious as it is expressive in its design. As reflected by its name, the color mainly appears due to Blue Iznik tiles installation in the beautiful overarching dome. For those interested in local tales that go by, you’ll hear the Istanbul tourist guide narrating the story of a sailor who saw the mosque turning to blue shade at night with the reflection of the Marmara Sea. Nothing beats a historical place with an added layer of epic, right?

Blue Mosque

  • Where: Binbirdirek, At Meydanı Cd No:10, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
  • When: 8:30 am to 6:30 pm

6. Basilica Cistern

What if we tell you that amongst the famous places in Istanbul is something that lies beneath the city? The Basilica Cistern finds itself right below the Sultanahmet streets and is a 6th-century dated reservoir meant to harvest rainwater for the city’s occupants. Spanning across 9800 square meters and capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters of water, the Basilica framework is supported by 336 marble columns, each 30ft high, in a sequence of 12 rows with 28 columns each. Still astonishing from the time when it was built, this quaint attraction is one for the ages, whose appeal and relevance have only grown through time.

Basilica Cistern

  • Location: Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
  • Opening hours: 9am-10pm

7. Sultanahmet District

We've talked about Basilica Cistern, so it's natural to speak of the place above it, right? One of the oldest established places in Istanbul, the Sultanahmet district is also known as the center of Islamic culture. From Ottoman Empire times, Sultanahmet was coined as the cultural knowledge city housing a cathedral, mosque, and museum across its packed street network. Many tourists with a slight time crunch on their hands find the Sultanahmet district the perfect gateway to Istanbul city, and it is often accredited as one of the best areas to stay in Istanbul as a tourist.

Sultanahmet District

  • Open: 24 Hours

8. Dolmabahce Palace

As the largest palace in Turkey, the Dolmabahce Palace is indeed a true sight to behold. Serving as the administrative chamber for the Ottoman Empire, the palace has ceilings laced with gold and is address to the world’s largest chandelier which has 750 lamps and weighs 4.5 tons. The palace also has 202 oil paintings on display for tourists, with artwork credited to renowned Turkish artists. The location is as picturesque as they come and is one of the sweetest spots for your DSLR camera to record memories.

Dolmabahce Palace

  • Address: Vişnezade, Dolmabahçe Cd., 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Türkiye
  • Time: 9am-4pm (Except Mondays)

9. Rahmi M. Koc Museum

For those with a bit more affinity towards science and everything factual, the Rahmi M. Koc Museum is one of the places to visit in Istanbul. As an industrial museum, it covers the fascinating chapters of transport, the industrial era, and communication and allows us to take a sneak peek into the history that has laid the foundation of the present technology. Tourists can find a fine collection of industrial materials, from gramophone tuner needles to large-sized aircraft.

Rahmi M. Koc Museum

  • Where: Piri Paşa, Hasköy Cd. No:5, 34445 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye
  • Timings:
    • Tue-Fri: 9:30am-5:00pm
    • Sat-Sun: 10:00am-6:00pm

10. Kapali Carsi

When you’ve covered your itinerary of Istanbul tourist places, and if you want to check in with the local market flair, we recommend Kapali Carsi. Home to over 4000 shops, you can certainly try your bargaining skills at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Located in one of the oldest covered markets in the world, the bazaar attracts 250,000 to 400,000 visitors daily. So, be aware that you’ll be stepping into one of the most crowded places in Istanbul.

Kapali Carsi

  • Where: Beyazıt, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
  • Opening & Closing: 8:30am-7pm

Frequently Asked Questions   

Q1. What is the best time to visit Istanbul?

The best times to visit Istanbul are from April to May and September to October. These periods offer milder weather, making it ideal for exploring the city's attractions without extreme temperatures.

Q2. How much time should I allocate for a visit to Hagia Sophia Mosque?

To fully appreciate the intricate details and historical significance of Hagia Sophia Mosque, it's recommended to allocate at least a couple of hours for your visit. The mosque, with its stunning architecture and over 30 million gold tiles, provides a captivating experience.

Q3. Are there any recommended boat tours for experiencing the Bosphorus Strait?

Yes, taking a private boat tour along the Bosphorus Strait is highly recommended for a vibrant and picturesque experience. The inland canal filled with ferries, adorned with Turkish flags, offers a unique perspective of the city and the clear blue waters.

Q4. What makes the Sultanahmet District a must-visit area in Istanbul?

The Sultanahmet District, also known as the center of Islamic culture, is a historic area housing a cathedral, mosque, and museum. With its rich Ottoman Empire heritage, it's considered a cultural knowledge city. Many tourists find it an excellent gateway to explore Istanbul, accrediting it as one of the best areas to stay in the city.

So, here you have it – a listicle to help you navigate the best places to visit in Istanbul. From serene architectural buildings to a sea view that is hard to beat to places that invoke historical influence on one of the busiest market circuits, Istanbul is truly a sight with offerings as diverse as it is captivating.

Author
Raghav Seth