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.
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.
Sultanahmet hosts about all of the most visited historical and tourist sites in Istanbul, such as the Sultanahmet Square (Hippodrome), Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul Archaeology Museums and Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts are situated here and all can be explored by walking.
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.
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.
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.
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 beautifl and charming natural formations and it will sure cheer up your hearts.
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.
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 amongst the best museums in Istanbul that won’t want to miss.
Hop-on Hop-off Istanbul City Sightseeing Bus Tour
Big Bus Istanbul 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.
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.
Tours & Excursions
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. And we recommend the two world brands GetYourGuide or Viator, with insurance and easy cancellation process.
Istanbul’s Tourist Discount Passes & Cards
There are three types of Istanbul passes & cards that you may buy and have access to variety of Istanbul attractions including museums with fixed price and save a lot. We recommend those cards for the travelers that has a stay in Istanbul at least from 3 to 7 days. The most practical and cheapest way to explore Istanbul’s sights.
Istanbul Tourist Pass
Rather than paying for each item individually, this digital Istanbul Tourist Pass allows you to choose from 30+ Istanbul attractions so you can pack as much into your stay as possible for a single set price. It is the most popular and recommended discount tourist pass in Istanbul that you will get valuable discounts of up to 70%. You’ll also get 3-days of unlimited mobile internet access with your pass along with WhatsApp traveler support, and one way airport transfer. Highly recommended for travelers that will stay more than 3 days in Istanbul.
Istanbul Welcome Card
This is a travel discount card that offers combo attractions for less for individual, family or group during their Istanbul visit. And you will get valuable discounts of up to 50%. There are four types of Istanbul Welcome Card (Classic, Premium and Deluxe), and all are valid for 7 days. You’ll also get unlimited mobile internet access plus free public transportation rides.