Last Updated on September 26, 2020
Majority of the iconic and tourist attractions and popular activities of Istanbul can easily be enjoyed on the 1st of January. Below we put together some of the top things to do on New Year’s Day in 2021 in Istanbul. Make sure you check the opening times in advance. And with our guide, you can make the most of the first day of 2021 in Istanbul with these New Year’s Day events and activities.
From the city’s magical sights and sounds, special tours and festive activities, to January sales, iconic attractions and city walks, you can find are plenty of reasons to get out in Istanbul on the New Year’s Day.
Istanbul New Year’s Day activities
1. Take a stroll in the lively Istiklal Street
Located in the Taksim neighborhood, Istiklal Street (Istiklal Avenue) is probably the most famous street and entertainment area in Istanbul. It is a long colorful pedestrian street full of all kind of shops, restaurants, cafes, street shows and more. Continue reading…
2. Shop the January sales at Istanbul’s Shopping Malls
Istanbul also hosts more than 200 modern shopping malls. And some of them are really very huge and amongst the best shopping malls in Europe. As it is one of the winter sales time in Istanbul, we recommend you to visit many of the popular shopping malls and make shopping. Also make sure check the top department stores and main shopping areas of Istanbul. Continue reading…
3. Visit Galata Tower, admire stunning views of the city and take walking tour of the neighborhood
This is offered by Istanbul Welcome Card and we highly recommend. You’ll experience and enjoy the city from one of the best point of views on top of the Galata Tower. You’ll also enjoy a short walking tour with a guide along the touristic Galata neighborhood. Galata has the living memories of different cultures, nationalities, religions.
- Benefit from fast track entry
- Skip the ticket lines and save 30 minutes to 1 hour
- 360 Breathtaking view of the city
- Discover the neighborhood
- Witness the great cultural diversity
- Ride on the 2nd oldest subway
Ticket price: €18
Notice: Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount. Just click the red button below and make sure you see the discounted price on the official page.
Meeting Hours: Wednesdays to Sundays at 09:30
4. Visit Ortakoy and eat baked potatoes by the Bosphorus
Ortakoy is a popular, lively and attractive neighborhood of Besiktas, located just by the Bosphorus and under the Bosphorus Bridge. Strolling around the Ortakoy Sqaure, watching the crowd, having a rest and drinking tea or coffee at the various cafes and restaurants by the Bosphorus are top attractions here. The lively nights at the weekends are also fantastic. Many locals prefer to buy baked potatoes and enjoy it by the beautiful views of the Bosphorus. Continue reading…
5. See the sights on Hop-on Hop-off Tourist Bus
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. Continue reading…
6. Visit the charming Museums of 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 Artsare amongst the best museums in Istanbul that won’t want to miss. Continue reading…
7. Visit Sea Life Aquarium or Istanbul Aquarium
Sea Life Istanbul Aquarium is the 5th largest aquarium in the world. Visitors may experience and enjoy the lovely sea creatures, the largest collection of sharks in Europe, the Digital Aquarium, the Turtle Hospital where you may see the injured turtles are getting healed, thematic zones, school trips, birthday parties and much more.
Istanbul Aquarium, located in Florya district of Bakirkoy, is one of the best theme parks in Istanbul. With its 6,000 square meters area, a special-themed and 1,2 km long travel route originating in the Black Sea towards the Pacific, the fish species, rain-forest, a gift shop with an area of 470 square meters, 1 restaurant having the Panama Canal view on one side and the sea view on the other, it is also one of the best aquariums and theme parks in Europe.
8. Relax with historical Turkish Bath (Hammam)
This will is one of the one time experiences on your Istanbul visit. With a Turkish bath, also called Hammam, you can enjoy an authentic experience, relax your muscles, refresh your body. The traditional bath mostly include a 15-minute massage. It can a be unique experience for you in these cold days.
Istanbul New Year’s Day after dark
You can find plenty to do on New Year’s Day in Istanbul as night begins.
9. Mystical night out at the Whirling Dervishes Show
Whirling Dervishes Show or Ceremony (“Sema” in Turkish) is one of the most visited attractions in Istanbul with the tourists. It is because that this ceremony is a very unusual event for the tourists and when they hear about it, majority of them try to catch this one hour show and witness the miracle of the whirling dervishes. The best performances take place at the Hodjapasha Culture Center in Sirkeci, Eminonu. Note that as this show is very popular among the majority of the tourists, you should buy your tickets at least 2 or 3 days before the show. Continue reading…
10. Rooftop Terraces to enjoy the New Year’s Day
There’s nothing better than to enjoy the Istanbul’s NYE evening in one of the best terrace or rooftop restaurant or bar, in the company of panoramic views of the city. We recommend you avoid the New Year’s Eve crowds and both relax and party with your family and friends in one of Istanbul’s best bars, pubs, or enjoy the New Year evening with a cocktail at a rooftop bar. Seebest rooftop restaurants and bars in Istanbul.
11. Fun night out at the Rhythm of the Dance Show (Turkish Dance)
The Rhythm of the Dance Show, also called as Turkish Dance, is one of the one time experiences in Istanbul for the tourists in an exclusive and cozy show atmosphere. This is a unique event that visitors may experience and enjoy the traditional dances from Turkish folklore with unique costumes and live music. The show takes place at the famous Hodjapasha Cultural Center in Sirkeci, within a 550 years old historical building that was once an Ottoman bath. Note that as this show is very popular among the majority of the tourists, you should buy your tickets at least 2 or 3 days before the show. Continue reading…
Top Selling Istanbul Sightseeing ToursFor both first time visitors and the ones want to experience and enjoy the Istanbul's highlights, we highly recommend this unique and tailor made sightseeing tours, offered by several quality agents.
We only suggest the proven ways and top rated ones with travelers’ comments. You can feel free to book one of the below top selling Istanbul culinary and food tours.
Free cancellation up to 24 hours before activity starts
Insider Tips for First Time Visitors* For time visitors to Istanbul should check and well plan the area to stay, best time to visit the city, best places to see and top attractions, how to save money, where to go for eating and shopping, airport transfer and public transportation, etc. to make the most of their Istanbul visit easy, budget, convenient, and safe.
* We recommend you to have some essential information first, before arriving Istanbul. Make sure you read our pages below.
- The best area to stay in Istanbul.
- How to get from New Istanbul airport to city center, Sabiha Gokcen airport to city center , or Galataport to city center quickly?
- How to get around the city easily?
- How to obtain IstanbulKart, city’s public transport card?
- Where to find discounted attraction tickets, and skip the lines, best guided tours, or sightseeing tours?
* So get an IstanbulKart as you can have access all the public transportation network of Istanbul. One ride is only 3,5 TL (about €0,5), and you can obtain this card (with 6 TL initial fee) at the ticket machines at any tram station.
* There are also guided tours with professional local guides that you can save yourself from the beggars, and people coming beside and ask for helping with guidance around or for money.
* We recommend you buy your attraction tickets online. This is by far the easiest and great value for money.
* Below, you’ll find our pick of the best and great value for money discount cards, and attraction tickets. You can be sure that we only suggest the proven and top rated ones with travelers’ comments. Our website visitors will also get extra 5% discount in some of the tours and tickets.
Tourist Discount Cards & Tickets AdviceIstanbul 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. There is also Museum Pass for museum lovers.
Istanbul Welcome Card DeluxeThe 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 guide, 20 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.
Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.
Istanbul Welcome Card PremiumValid 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.
Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.
Combo Tickets for Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace & Basilica CisternValid for 3 days, digital pass, no need a printed ticket, guidance service with certified guides.
Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.
Istanbul Tourist PassThis 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, unlimited mobile internet, etc.
Guided Istanbul Highlights Tours AdviceWe 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 TourThis 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
Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Guided TourThis 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.
Istanbul in One Day Highlights TourThis 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.
Airport Transfers AdviceIstanbul has two international airports. You'll find all the transportation opportunities such as Airport Shuttle, Metro, Train, Taxi, Private Shuttle, etc. from the airports to the city center and vice versa from our pages below. HAVAIST Airport Shuttle for 18 TL (about €2,7), 1 hour shared shuttle for about €15 or 1 hour private shuttle for about €40. There are No direct metro lines to the airports.
Private & Shared ShuttlesIf you are a group or a family with kids or having lots of luggage with you, than we highly recommend you to take private shuttle transfers for your hotel as they offer a fixed rate, comfortable and safe transfer that include meet-and-greet airport pickups and luggage assistance to your hotel from the airports or vice versa.
This is a good option as while the Airport Shuttles or Public Buses will bring you only to the city center and you’ll need to take a taxi to reach your hotel which will seem to be harder for you, private shuttles will drive you just to the entrance of your hotel.
As for private shuttle transfers, we highly recommend Tranigo(a Turkish company operating since 1996, and partnered with renowned names like Hertz, Thrifty, Budget, and many reliable and efficient local suppliers) as we recently booked with them had a great trip to our hotel.
It offers low-priced, fixed rate private shuttles that include meet-and-greet airport pickups and luggage assistance. Their large selection of comfortable taxis, minivans, luxurious cars and 6-19+ passenger minibuses can match any need while ensuring quick and safe travels to and from New Istanbul Airport (IST) or Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW).
Below you can use the search box to find your prefect private or shared shuttle transfer service in between Istanbul airports and your hotel.