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Exploring the Best Attractions and Places to Visit in Istanbul

9 mins. read

A transcontinental city located where Europe and Asia meet, Istanbul is, without a doubt, one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. The 2500-year-old city brings together the old and the new in a seamless melody that leaves you with the experience of a lifetime. Replete with a history that spans millennia and 4 empires, a rich cultural heritage, warm hospitality, delectable cuisine, and some of the most well-known landmarks and tourist places, Istanbul features on several travel bucket lists, and with good reason.

If you too are planning a trip to Istanbul, you will need to choose your Turkey tour packages with care, so you can ensure that they cover all the attractions in Istanbul that you want to visit.

Best Places to Visit in Istanbul

In Istanbul, you will find some of the oldest landmarks and buildings standing right next to some of the most modern skyscrapers. It is a city where mosques, synagogues, and churches are all revered, and where people from diverse religions and backgrounds live peacefully. Despite how old the city is, the best landmarks and attractions in Istanbul and remnants of its rich past showcase the city’s story in a magnificent way. Some of the top places to visit in Istanbul with family, friends, or even on your honeymoon, include:

The Most Well-Known

  • Hagia Sophia
  • The Topkapi Palace
  • The Blue Mosque
  • Grand Bazaar
  • Bonus: Sultan Ahmet Park

Always Worth a Visit

  • Chora Church
  • Yedikule Fortress
  • Galata Tower
  • Üsküdar District
  • Great Palace Mosaics Museum
  • The Beaches of Istanbul

The Most Well-Known

The largest city in Turkey, Istanbul is heaven for history buffs, housing ancient landmarks like places of worship, ancient relics, and the most interesting ruins! However, if you only had one day in Istanbul, these are the places that you should definitely not miss out on:

1. Hagia Sophia

Arguably the most famous place in Istanbul that you can visit, the Hagia Sophia was built in CE 537 by the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian. The church was built as a statement that showcased the wealth and technical abilities of the Byzantine Empire for the world to see. In fact, it was once believed that the area where the emperor’s throne rested within the church was the actual centre of the world.

A church, then a cathedral, a mosque, and finally a museum as it stands today, the Hagia Sophia is a mesmerising place for sightseeing in Istanbul.

2. The Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace

The majestic Topkapi Palace is another famous place in Istanbul and an important museum, housing some of the world’s rarest artefacts. The huge complex has hundreds of chambers, halls, and chambers, but only a few of them are open to visitors. For almost 400 years, the palace served as the primary residence for the emperors of the Ottoman Empire and to date offers a unique glimpse into the extravagant lifestyles of emperors from times long forgotten. The palace’s Harem, which was the main area of residence for the Sultan has 6 floors, and many rooms and chambers, even though only one of those floors is open to the public. Many of the top places to see in Istanbul are located in this palace, which makes it a must-add for your trip to the city.

3. The Blue Mosque

Originally known as the Sultan Ahman Mosque and another one of the top places to visit in Istanbul, this picturesque structure sits right opposite Hagia Sofia. It is known for the amazingly detailed decorations it houses, its breathtaking architecture, as well as for its blue interiors, which also from where it gets its name. Even from the courtyard, it’s quite easy to see the grandeur of the mosque, which has earned it its place in the list of the best places to visit in Istanbul.

4. Grand Bazaar

Nothing short of paradise for any shopaholic and definitely worth a visit, even if only for sightseeing, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest markets in the world, surrounded by thick walls and spanning across 64 streets and housing around 400 restaurants, shops, etc. throughout a maze of lanes. In a way, the Grand Bazaar is the first mall that the world ever saw. Even if you don’t plan to shop, the bazaar is without doubt one of those tourist places in Istanbul that you just cannot miss.

5. Bonus: Sultan Ahmet Park

This park is one of the top places to visit in Istanbul at night. Located between Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, the park offers some of the best views after dark as both masks are lit up, standing majestically among flower gardens. Don’t forget to get a look at the Sultan Ahmet fountain, which seems to transform completely as an array of colourful lights illuminate it in the evenings.

Always Worth a Visit

Even though it is nearly impossible to completely list down all of the amazing places to visit in Istanbul, here are some more attractions that you can consider adding to your itinerary.

1. Chora Church

Also known as the Kariye Museum, another of the amazing places to visit in Istanbul, the Chora Church has breathtaking interiors that are completely covered in beautiful mosaics that depict the entire life of Christ and Mary. For many, this church is not just one of the places to see in Istanbul but holds as much religious significance as Hagia Sophia.

2. Yedikule Fortress

One of the oldest tourist places in Istanbul, the Yedikule Fortress is also known as the Fortress of the Seven Towers and the Dungeons of the Seven Towers. Apart from its age, the fortress is also counted as one of the best places to visit in Istanbul because of its interesting history and the panoramic views it offers. Up until the 16th century, the fortress served as a treasury and archive for the Sultan, after which it was converted into a prison.

3. Galata Tower

Galata Tower is one of the most popular tourist places to visit in Istanbul for the views it offers of the city around it. The medieval monument is centuries old and used to be the tallest building in Istanbul once upon a time. You can enjoy a delicious meal atop the Galata Tower at its restaurant and café as you gaze at the splendid views.

4. Üsküdar District

In ancient times the Üsküdar District, located on the city’s Asian shore, was known as Scutari and as Chrysopolis. The town was one of the earliest Greek settlements along the Bosphorus Strait, and while it used to be more vulnerable against foreign attacks as compared to Constantinople (Istanbul), its exposed location also offered it amazing economic advantages at the time. Some of the best places to visit in Istanbul’s Üsküdar District include the Maiden’s Tower, Atik Valide Mosque, and the Cinili Mosque.

5. Great Palace Mosaics Museum

Standing on top of the ruins of the Great Palace of Constantinople, this museum houses a collection of exotic Byzantine mosaics that are preserved in situ to this date. The museum is one of the lesser-known tourist spots of Istanbul and one of the very few places where you can see a portion of the Byzantine Empire’s Royal Palace, much of which has been destroyed over time.

6. The Beaches of Istanbul

It isn’t all about ancient history when you visit Istanbul, as surrounded by the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, and the Bosphorus Strait, the city’s peninsular region also boasts of some of the most pristine beaches where you can relax, unwind, trek, or surf. The city has more than 80 accessible beaches and bathing spots, but some of the most popular ones that you can consider adding to your list of places to visit in Istanbul include the city’s biggest beach, Buyukada, Uzunya Beach, True Blue Beach, the happening BURC Beach, Dalia Beach, Golden Beach, Solar Beach, and many more!

Truly a travel destination that has it all and then some more to offer to visitors, Istanbul promises an unforgettable vacation. A holiday in Istanbul is also quite affordable, which makes it a great place to head to for budget travellers as well.

June 30, 2023


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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