Istanbul is a city with a rich history, and a great place to visit. It’s known for its food, its culture, and its architecture. The best part about traveling to Istanbul is that it’s a destination for all budgets. Even if you have limited funds, you can still take in all the sights and sounds of this amazing city. So all you need to do for your trip is get your Turkey visa, pack your suitcase, and grab this handy guide to the best free things to do in Istanbul.
Visit Sultanahmet District
The Sultanahmet District is one of the most well-known districts in Istanbul. It is home to many of the city’s most well-known attractions, including the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace.
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Surrounded by the Bosphorus Strait and the Sea of Marmara, this district is a haven for tourists who want to see some of the best sites in Istanbul.
The district itself is also very beautiful, with its tree-lined streets lined with cafés and restaurants where you can sit outside and enjoy some delicious Turkish food.
Admire the Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is one of the most iconic structures in Istanbul. First built in the 17th century during the rule of Ahmed l, it continues to be a major tourist attraction today.
The mosque’s interior is decorated with Iznik tiles that were made in Turkey during the Ottoman Empire. The tiles are blue because they were made using a cobalt pigment.
The Blue Mosque is open from sunrise to sunset every day except Friday, when Muslims gather there for their weekly prayers and religious services.
See the Suleymaniye Mosque
Suleymaniye Mosque is one of the most famous buildings in Istanbul. It was built in the early 16th century and remains one of the city’s most famous religious sites.
The mosque is considered a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, though it defies many traditional forms. It has a cylindrical shape and its dome is covered with lead plates rather than tiles like many other mosques.
The space is much more than a mosque—it’s a vast complex that features a medical school, hospital, restaurant, and even baths.
Wander Around Gulhane Park
Gulhane Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Istanbul. It’s the perfect place to escape the bustle of the city and relax, have a picnic, or enjoy some time with friends.
Gulhane means “rose house” in persian, which is why you’ll see many rose displays and flower gardens as you wander through the park’s many sections.
The park has a playground for kids, as well as several outdoor cafés where you can grab lunch or a snack. The park also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and theatrical productions.
Climb Çamlica Hill
Çamlica Hill is famous for its beautiful view of the Bosphorus Strait and its bridge, which can be admired from the top of the hill.
As well as panoramic views of the city, visitors can also find traditional tea houses, cafés, restaurants, flower gardens, and fountains.
For those who enjoy hiking, visiting Çamlica Hill is a great way to get some exercise while taking in the sights. Alternatively, the drive takes around 30 minutes from downtown Istanbul.
Cross Galata Bridge
If you’re looking for more great views of the city, cross Galata Bridge. You’ll be able to see the Old Town and all of its famous landmarks, as well as some of the most beautiful architecture in the world.
Galata Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in the city, and it’s easy to see why it has been used for so long: it’s beautiful and functional.
The bridge connects Istanbul’s Karaköy area (ancient Galata) and the Eminönü quarter. When you cross the bridge, you can interestingly see both the Asian and European sides of the city.
Explore the Markets and Bazaars
Markets and bazaars in Istanbul are a great place to see the city in action. You can find yourself spending hours just strolling around and admiring the wares on offer.
The Grand Bazaar is one of the most famous markets in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s jam-packed with vendors selling everything from gold jewelry to carpets to leather goods.
If you’re looking for something a little more boutique-y, check out Sisli Market: it’s smaller than the Grand Bazaar but just as interesting, with vendors selling everything from antique books to handmade paintings.