Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

A brief overview of the very best of Istanbul’s tourist zones, districts & neighborhoods, top places to visit and see, sights and points of interest.

Istanbul is located partly in Asia and the other part in Europe. Its geographical position as well as its rich history are responsible for a fascinating melting pot of cultures. Tourists are flocking to experience this magical city full of contrasts for themselves, making it the 5th most popular tourist destination in the world.

Istanbul is a magical composition of two continents, two Worlds, the East and the West, and so the places to visit and see in Istanbul are endless. Istanbul can be considered as the combination of the old and modern city, as well as Islamic and Mediterranean mixture of cultures in a captivating atmosphere.


The beautiful silhouette of the city combines historical sites and monuments such as Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches, Venetian towers, Ottoman palaces from the Byzantine, Ottoman and Turkish periods. And the skyline covers monumental minarets with skyscrapers and plazas. And especially the Historical Peninsula and the Bosphorus will cheer up your hearts.

The Historical Peninsula

For the ones who are a true enthusiast of history and want to see the city’s historic sites, we highly recommend you to visit and see the Historical Peninsula of Istanbul (Fatih district), that has been the capital for many civilizations such as the Romans, Byzantine and Ottoman Empire for centuries.

Sultanahmet

And on the Historical Peninsula, the Sultanahmet neighborhood is the visited sites in Istanbul. A tourist center combining the history, architecture, culture and art, Istanbul’s old city and historical zone, and an important sightseeing, entertainment & shopping area for the tourists for having a nice Istanbul old city walking tour.

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)
Sultanahmet

Sultanahmet hosts about all of the most visited historical and tourist sites in Istanbul, such as the Sultanahmet Square (Hippodrome)Hagia SophiaTopkapi PalaceBlue MosqueBasilica CisternIstanbul Archaeology Museums and Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts are situated here and all can be explored by walking.

Read more about Sultanahmet


The Beyoglu District


For the ones who are a true enthusiast of metropolitan city life and enjoy the city’s lively nights and vibrant streets, as well as most visited monumental sites and museums, we highly recommend you to visit and see the Beyoglu district of Istanbul, that houses the popular tourist neighborhoods of Galata and Taksim.

And From Taksim or Galata, you can walk towards Cukurcuma, Cihangir and Karakoy neighborhoods and feel the city life along their narrow streets dotted with historic facades of old Istanbul, as well as best vintage shops in the city.

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)
Galata Tower

Galata

Galata is located across the Historical Peninsula, and both historic and cosmopolitan region and entertainment & shopping area for the tourists for having a nice Istanbul city walking tour. Galata is famous for its lively atmosphere and of course the Galata Tower, one of the most popular landmark of Istanbul.

Read more about Galata

Taksim

Taksim is a cosmopolitan region, communications hub and an important commercial, entertainment & shopping area for the tourists for having a nice Istanbul city walking tour. It is the modern part and heart of Istanbul. And of course, Taksim Square and the world famous Istiklal Street.

Read more about Taksim


The Bosphorus

The Bosphorus (Bogazici) is a 19 miles long strait separating the two continents, Asia and Europe, as well as Marmara and Black Sea. Bosphorus is one of the world’s most beautiful and charming natural formations and it will sure cheer up your hearts.


Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

You can explore the Bosphorus by cruising along and visiting the shores of both continents lined up with summer palaces, mansions, fortresses, groves, parks and gardens, by motorboats, yachts and public ferries. And so, the Bosphorus Cruises are amongst the best things to do in Istanbul.

Read more about Bosphorus Cruises


Museums

For the ones who are a true enthusiast of culture and art, Istanbul museums offers the best of the city’s historical heritage, culture and modern art. Istanbul hosts more than 80 museums and many art galleries showcase all the culture, arts and history; including painting, sculpture, photography and more. Istanbul Archaeology Museums, Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul Modern, Rahmi Koc Transport Museum and Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts are among the best museums in Istanbul that won’t want to miss.

Read more about Istanbul’s Top Museums


Best Views of the City

Top Places for the Best Views of Istanbul

You’ll find plenty of great places and viewpoints that you can enjoy a panoramic view of Istanbul, from historic places like towers, mosques and palaces, to rooftop terraces to groves and hilltops.

Read more about Istanbul’s Best Views


Mosques

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Once the capital of a Muslim Ottoman Empire for many hundreds of years, Istanbul hosts variety of beautiful and glorious mosques that worth a visit and see. Most of the beautiful mosques with important historical heritage are situated on the historical peninsula, in the districts and neighborhoods of Fatih, Sultanahmet and Eminonu, as well as on the Bosphorus shoreline in Tophane, Kabatas, Besiktas and Ortakoy.

Read more about Istanbul’s Beautiful Mosques


Churches

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Once the capital of a Muslim Ottoman Empire for many hundreds of years, Istanbul hosts variety of beautiful and glorious mosques that worth a visit and see. Most of the beautiful mosques with important historical heritage are situated on the historical peninsula, in the districts and neighborhoods of Fatih, Sultanahmet and Eminonu, as well as on the Bosphorus shoreline in Tophane, Kabatas, Besiktas and Ortakoy.

Read more about Istanbul’s Beautiful Churches


Palaces & Pavilions

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

You’ll find many beautiful palaces & pavilions in Istanbul that worth a visit on your visit to Istanbul. Palaces are the gorgeous structure that where the Ottoman Sultans have lived and they are being visited by thousands of tourists every day.

Read more about Istanbul’s Beautiful Palaces & Pavilions


Towers & Fortresses

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

You’ll find several beautiful and historical towers and fortresses in Istanbul that you will not want to miss visiting and spending a great day out. These sights are really very fantastic that you will like to take loads of photos on these places.

Read more about Istanbul’s Beautiful Towers & Fortresses


Parks & Gardens

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

You’ll find many beautiful groves, parks and gardens suitable for great day out activities in the company of green and nature in Istanbul. You can spend a great and peaceful day out at these popular Istanbul parks during your Istanbul stay.

Read more about Istanbul’s Beautiful Parks & Gardens


Squares & Streets

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)
Taksim

You’ll find several lively and touristic squares, avenues and streets in Istanbul. You may have a great day out by eating out, having your drink while you relax on the popular cafes, shopping, strolling and entertain in all those places on your Istanbul visit.

Read more about Istanbul’s Beautiful Sqaures & Streets


Hop-on Hop-off Istanbul City Sightseeing Bus Tour

BigBus Istanbul tour is a cheap way to discover and explore the popular zones of Istanbul which you just couldn’t walk to and see in one day. It drives through the popular sights along the interesting and different districts and neighborhoods of Istanbul and offers informative pre-recorded commentary that is available in 8 languages. The open topped double decker tourist bus really looks cool.

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)
Double Decker City Sightseeing Bus

You can get off at any of the designated stops (which means hop-off) and than explore the area and sights on foot at your leisure, and then you can catch the next bus (buses arrive the stops in every 30 mins/60 mins.) from any stop when you’re ready (which means hop-on) to move on and visit the other sights on the route. The stops are all located close to the most visited and famous landmarks and attractions of Istanbul. The upper deck of the city sightseeing bus offers a great vantage point for the amazing panoramic views of the city and lets you take photos.

Read more about Hop On Hop Off Istanbul City Sightseeing Bus Tour


Top-Rated Istanbul Tours

Below are the top-rated Istanbul tours gathered with the travelers’ ratings and comments. You’ll definitely enjoy these tours as they have quality of service and badge of excellence.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours before activity starts

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Tours & Tickets

When planning an Istanbul visit, weekend break, getaway or holiday, there are always plenty of tours, attractions, deals, offers, packages and events to choose from and enjoy in the city. You may explore Istanbul via daily tours made by the local travel agents with professional guides. It is a very good option if you don’t want to go through the hassle of making all the arrangements including the tickets, waiting at the long queues and 2-ways transportation by your own.

See All Popular Tours & Tickets

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Tourist Passes & Discount Cards

* Istanbul has several tourist discount cards. You’ll have access to variety of major Istanbul attractions and services with a fixed price and save a lot. This is by far the most practical and cheapest way to explore Istanbul, as well as get airport transfer, public transportation card, unlimited internet, etc. Below you can see our recommendations.

Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe

The is an innovative city pass. It includes fast track entry to 12 museums (Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Harem, Basilica Cistern, etc), 3 tours with historian guide20 rides with public transportation (IstanbulKart), Bosphorus Cruise and digital guide book and city map. It also offers 20% discounts at the most important Istanbul attractions on their shop. With this card you’ll skip the long ticket lines and not have to pick anything up.

Buy Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe

Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Istanbul Welcome Card Premium

Valid for 7 days, free delivery to your hotel/airport pick-up and includes; Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace fast track entry tickets with 30 minutes guidance and Audio Guide App in 10 languages, Istanbulkart with 10 Rides, Bosphours Cruise (1,5 hours), Digital Guide Book and City Map.

Buy Istanbul Welcome Card Premium

Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Combo Tickets for Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace & Basilica Cistern

Valid for 3 days, digital pass, no need a printed ticket, guidance service with certified guides.

Buy Combo Tickets

Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Istanbul Tourist Pass

Istanbul Tourist Pass is a digital travel discount card that provides entrance and transportation tickets to many of Istanbul’s top tourist attractions along with several guided museum tours with skip-the-line access in a simple, useful, convenient and fun way. Rather than paying for each item individually, the pass allows you to choose from 75+ things to do in Istanbul so you can pack as much into your stay as possible for a single set price. You’ll get valuable discounts of up to 75%.

After you purchase the pass, it will be delivered to mobile phone and will be ready to use at upon arrival. There are four types of Istanbul Tourist Pass (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10-Day).

Buy Your Istanbul Tourist Pass Online Now

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Istanbul E-Pass

This is a digital travel discount pass that is delivered to your phone upon your purchase online, and will be ready to use at your arrival. It includes 30+ attractions and services including skip the line access and guided museum tours, dinner cruise, hop-on & hop-off Bus, airport transfer, etc.

Buy Your Istanbul E-Pass

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Guided Istanbul Highlights Tours Advice

We recommend this kind of tours, especially for first time visitors. You are able to make the most of the city’s sights and sounds with a private guide and save yourself from the hassle of making an ideal one day to 3 days plan. All will be made by professionals and you’ll get skip the lines tickets, as well as pick-up and drop-off hotel transfer.

Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

This is Get Your Guide’s top selling and certified tour, which means it has gained one of the best traveler experiences.

You’ll discover the magic of Istanbul on a private 1 or 2-day walking tour with skip the line tickets. Enjoy a river cruise and guided tour of the city highlights, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Dolmabahce Palace, and Istiklal Street.

Duration: 7 hours – 2 days
Live tour guide: English, Spanish, German, Japanese
Pick-up from the front desk of your hotel in Istanbul

Book Highlights of Istanbul Guided Tour

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Guided Tour

This is also Get Your Guide’s top selling tour. Has great traveler ratings and comments.

You’ll see the sights of Istanbul that most interest you on a customized tour with private guide. Marvel at some of the city’s most significant sights including Topkapi Palace, Chora Church, Basilica Cistern, Fener-Balat neighboorhood, and many more.

Duration: 7 hours – 3 days
Live tour guide: Spanish, English, French, German, Italian
Pickup is available from centrally-located hotels in Istanbul, by your guide on foot.

Book Istanbul 1, 2 or 3-Day Guided Tour

Places to See in Istanbul (2022 Essential Sights + Insider Guide Advice)

Istanbul in One Day Highlights Tour

This is Get Your Guide’s top selling tour. Has great traveler ratings and comments.

You’ll visit the iconic sites such as the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, The Hippodrome, and the Grand Bazaar, learn the highlights of Istanbul from a local guide and discover the historical peninsula and learn the whole story of Istanbul.

Book Your Istanbul in One Day Highlights Tour


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Hello, I’m wondering if museums and tourist attractions such as Galata Tower and Dolmabahçe Palace are still open for tourists during the current lockdown.

    • Hi Kara, well the museums are open but we recommend to check their official websites for visiting hours and any additional restrictions. Same for Topkapi and Dolmabahce Palace, they are open. Not sure with Galata Tower as it will be not be able to keep the social distance there. Also Bosphorus boat tours with entertainment is not available.

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