Where to go in Istanbul? Istanbul is a city suspended between the East and the West, charms and fascinates its visitors with its unique cultural mix and atmosphere! If you visit it for the first time, here are the 20 things you absolutely need to do and see in Istanbul!
Where To Go In Istanbul? Top 10 Things To Do In Istanbul
10. Enjoy a fish sandwich at one of the Galata Bridge fishermen’s kiosks
Less well known than the döner kebap (which is mentioned later in this article), the “balık ekmek”, this small fish sandwich served with pickles is however one of the staple of the local “street food”! You will find near the bridge of Galata but also in the less tourist districts of Beykoz and Yeniköy.
9. Visit the famous Blue Mosque and discover its superb Iznik faience
Built between 1609 and 1616, the Blue Mosque owes its name to the ceramics that decorate its interior. It is one of the most visited historical monuments in Istanbul and you will quickly understand why!
8. Negotiate and bring back beautiful lamps or tea services from the Grand Bazaar
Spread over more than 200,000 m2, the Grand Bazaar is aptly named! It is indeed the largest in the world and you will find everything in its 4000 shops: jewelry, lamps, carpets, fabrics, leather, etc. This is the perfect place if you want to do some souvenir shopping to bring back from your trip!
7. Discover the riches of the museum of Saint Sophia basilica
Former Christian basilica of Constantinople became mosque then museum, Saint Sophia is known for its rich mosaics. It is certainly the second most visited monument in Istanbul after the Blue Mosque.
6. Sip a mint tea in one of the kiosks of the charming Ortaköy district, on the banks of the Bosphorus
A multi-cultural district par excellence, Ortaköy is best known for its mosque, Mecidiye Grand Mosque. Located on the European side, it is also frequented by young Istanbulians who come to taste “Kumpir” (potato baked and stuffed with various ingredients) and drink mint tea.
5. Get lost in the semi-darkness of the Basilica Cistern
This gigantic underground cistern of Constantinople is one of the most spectacular monuments of the Byzantine Empire still visible today.
4. Take a ride in Kadikoy, the Asian side of the city
Cultural center of the Asian side of the city, Kadikoy district is an authentic residential area where you can walk along the Bosphorus and buy cheaper than downtown Istanbul. The Kadiköy market also takes place every Tuesday and Thursday and you will find a lot less tourists! If you make the trip, do not miss the beautiful train station Haydarpaşa which is one of the largest in the Middle East.
3. Take a cruise on the Bosphorus
This is probably the best way to admire the splendid panorama of the city and discover monuments that are visible only from the sea like the grand palaces of Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi or the University of Galatasaray. You can also go under the beautiful suspension bridges and admire the large wooden houses dating from the Ottoman Empire.
2. Watching the sunset from the Galata Bridge
Overlooking the Golden Horn, the Galata Bridge is the perfect place to admire the sunset over the city … Very lively it also offers a superb panorama of the main monuments of Istanbul.
1. Go Taksim, the commercial heart of the city
Pedestrian street about three kilometers long, Istiklal houses many shops but also art galleries, cinemas, theaters, libraries, cafes or restaurants. It is particularly crowded at the weekend as nearly 3.2 million people browse it every Saturday!
Bonus: Immerse yourself in the history of the Ottoman Empire at Topkapi Palace
Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as an “incomparable ensemble of buildings built over four centuries, unique in the architectural quality of its buildings as well as in their organization that reflects that of the Ottoman court”, the Topkapi Palace has housed for over 400 years the official residence of the Ottoman sultan. Today transformed into a museum, it includes many objects and works of art of the Ottoman era.