Istanbul must be one of the greatest cities on Earth. It has a long and prestigious history and Turks are rightly proud of its reputation. For tourists, Istanbul remains one of the top destinations in Europe and the Middle-East region, with luxury shopping malls, historic multiculturalism, and incredible food being just a few of the reasons. But what are the best things to see and the best things to do when visiting this incredible city?
10. Nisantasi is an upscale and fluent district of Istanbul, famous for its luxury fashion boutiques and designer labels. More expats live here than virtually anywhere else in the city, so it makes it a very multicultural place with lots of things to get involved in!
9. The Basilica Cistern is a subterranean cavern dating back to the Ottoman Era and one of the key attractions down here is to see an upside down Medusa head, with small fish eerily swimming past it.
8. Dolmabache Palace was the finest Ottoman Palace of them all in terms of grandiosity. Even if large parts are off limits to the public, it still makes a great tourist attraction.
7. The Grand Bazaar is a well-known and much-vaunted undercover marketplace in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. Here you can find everything from Turkish Delight to magic carpets, and from shisha pipes to shawarma – but you had better practice your haggling!
6. A Bosphorus Cruise is undoubtedly one of the best ways to explore Istanbul. In good weather, it is an unbeatable experience to sail down the famous river with palaces and mosques on the horizon with the smell of fresh seafood being cooked nearby!
5. Hagia Sophia is one of the most famous Turkish icons and it dates way back to the 6th century. It used to be a mosque but is now a museum, yet remains Istanbul’s most visited tourist attraction.
4. The Chora Church is remarkable not only for its dedication to Christianity in a Muslim country, but also for its stunning murals on the walls and ceiling. Must be seen to be believed!
3. Topkapi Palace has a long and illustrious history as the home of Ottoman sultans. Eventually, it was abandoned in favour of Dolmabache Palace, but this huge palace beside the Bosphorus has incredible green grounds, large courtyards, and a museum.
2. A Taksim Tram Ride is a must-do for all visitors to Istanbul! Running along the length of Istiklal Avenue from the Taksim Tunnel, these traditional trams give you a novel way of travelling and perhaps the chance to hark back to what life must have been like for Turks decades ago.
1. The Blue Mosque (otherwise known as Sultan Ahmed Cami) is the most remarkable attraction in Istanbul, and surely one of the most stunning in all of Europe. It is known as the “Blue Mosque” due to the blue tiles lining the walls of its interior. It is a real ‘living’ mosque, so visitors must respectfully remove footwear before entering, but it is completely free to enter. From the outside, you can sit around the peaceful fountains and gardens to marvel at the grandiose façade with its famous six minarets.