After a little bit over eight months living in Istanbul and after having had more visitors than in two and a half years in Copenhagen, we already have a pretty good idea of the most tourist spots in Istanbul and the ones we like the most.
We could dedicate a full blog to talk about the wonders of Istanbul, its contrasts, its tidy chaos, its mix of cultures, and we would still have more to say. Napoleon Bonaparte said once: “If the world was a single country, Istanbul would be its capital”.
Today we want to share with you, our top 10 most tourist place to visit Istanbul. There are many others but these are our favorites among the most visited. Some other day we would talk about the other side of Istanbul and those hidden and alternative spots.
First, it was an orthodox church, then a mosque and today it is a museum. One of the best examples of the melting pot this city is. It was built between the years 532 and 537, its mosaics, its dome, and its symbols transport you to a different time. It is very interesting to see how Christians and Muslim symbols are under the same roof, a real example.
The Blue Mosque or the Sultan Ahmet’s Mosque.
Just in front of Hagia Sophia this beautiful mosque arises and it traps you in its domes and minarets. It was built in 1617 and today it is still an active temple. You can enter as a tourist as long as it is not praying time when it is close. You would only have to follow its dress code. If it isn’t too busy get close to one of the pillars, sit down, look up and enjoy.
The biggest cistern built during the Byzantine era. Just to think that it was built in 532 will leave speechless. With the capacity to host 80000 cubic meters it has 336 marble columns, in two of their bases, you find some carvings of Medusa’s face.
Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
It is the biggest in the city and a landmark to go shopping. It opens every day except Sunday. Go inside, walk around, get into the shops, bargain as much as you can.
Spices Bazaar or Egyptian Bazaar.
The mix of colours and smells will trap you. Enjoy the great variety of spices, teas, and sweets and again get ready to bargain and go back home with a bit of the flavour of Istanbul.
This enormous palace was once an administrative center and home of the sultans for 400 years. Its gardens, its colourful rooms, the jewelry, its wonderful view of the Bosphorus, the Harem… get your energy levels up and enjoy!! We recommend starting with the Harem and the go ahead to the rest of the palace.
The biggest in the city, it is just incredible. With a lower amount of visitors than the Blue Mosque, it allows you to enjoy the peace you really feel inside. Sitting on the carpet, admire its decoration and the flow of the visitors it will transport you to a relaxing oasis. Once you are inside, go to the right side to enjoy one of the bests views of Istanbul.
One of the symbols of the city with rules Beyoğlu neighbourhood gives you a 360º panoramic view of Istanbul. This tower has met the Genovese, Byzantines, and Ottomans and today is one of the most visited spots in Istanbul. Be patient with the long queues to go up to the top of the tower, it is worth it. After the visit, just walk around the neighbourhood and get into any of the charming cafes you will find to get your energy back.
Galata Bridge and the Golden Horn.
This bridge connects two neighbourhoods Karaköy and Eminönü going through the estuary known as the Golden Horn. Although the architecture of the bridge is nothing fancy, from there you will enjoy the view of the Golden Horn. This site, which is a natural estuary harbour, protected Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans and other ships for thousands of years. At sunset, go for a walk and watch the fisherman and the hundreds of fishing rod decorating the view and overall enjoy one of the best sunsets you would see.
Taksim Square and Istiklal.
This is a meeting point both for locals and visitors, a place chosen for demonstrations and celebrations. In it, you will find the Republic Monument and from it the Istiklal avenue is born, one of the most famous in Istanbul and probably the busiest, a good example of the bustle of the city. Around it, many streets with bars and restaurants to enjoy the Turkish food, the music and the nightlife of Istanbul.
And these are, as we said, our favorite most tourist Istanbul’s spots. Tell us what would you add to the list?