Istanbul, the city that bridges two continents, is brimming with rich history, tantalizing cuisine, vibrant markets, and a cultural kaleidoscope that can only be experienced firsthand. Uncover the hidden gems of our metropolis during its warmest season with our summer guide to the city. Find out top things to do this summer in Istanbul, experience everything from open-air museums and historic sites to sunset boat tours and lively festivals – all set against the backdrop of the captivating Istanbul skyline.
Bask in the Summer Sun: Top Outdoor Activities
The energy in Istanbul heightens during the summer months, so make the most of the plentiful sunshine with these open-air activities and events.
Insider Advice: Kickstart your Istanbul adventure with the Istanbul E-Pass or Istanbul Tourist Pass. These passes provide free access to around 70+ top attractions, tours and essential local services in the city with around 70% savings.
Explore Istanbul’s Historic Attractions
Families will have a blast exploring the city. These passes will allow sightseeing and savings at top attractions, making it a great choice for families.
City Walking Tour
Walking around Fener-Balat
This is a historic district on the Golden Horn, known for its charming old houses, Byzantine and Ottoman-era landmarks. A walk around Fener-Balat is like taking a trip back in time.
Walking from Ortaköy to Bebek
This is a wonderful coastal walk that offers magnificent views of the Bosphorus and some of Istanbul’s most attractive neighborhoods.
Having Breakfast by the Bosphorus
One of the most delightful things to do in Istanbul is to have breakfast by the Bosphorus. The city offers several lovely spots where you can enjoy a leisurely meal while gazing out at the beautiful strait.
No Regrets Booking Advice
Visit Ortakoy and enjoy the outdoor cafes 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.
Istanbul is a city that has been home to various civilizations over the centuries, and a treasure trove of historical beauty. Many of these gems are housed in Istanbul’s many museums, while others lie in the city’s charming streets. For a cultural excursion on a warm summer day, consider embarking on a museum tour.
Wander in Bloom at Beautiful Parks
Summer is the perfect time to explore Istanbul’s many beautiful parks and gardens. Visit the iconic Emirgan Park, where you can walk amongst the vibrant tulip fields or simply enjoy a leisurely picnic in the sun.
Visit Gulhane Park (Rose Garden) is one of the most beautiful parks in Istanbul for both tourists and locals, There is also a Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam in the park, a unique one in the world that worth a see.
Or visit Yildiz Grove, one of the most beautiful parks in Istanbul consists of many beautiful pools, waterfalls and ponds, as well as fascinating gardens and trees, or Fethi Pasha Groove, a great place to have a rest with your drink and watching the beautiful views of the city and the Bosphorus.
Take a Unique Sightseeing Tour
Hop on the nostalgic tram along Istiklal Street for a different perspective of the city.
We Highly Recommend These Fantastic Night-time Activities
Or opt for a Hop-on Hop-off City Sightseeing Tourist Bus Tour, a cheap way to discover and explore the popular zones of Istanbul which you just couldn’t walk to and see in one day.
The sightseeing bus runs every 30/60 minutes and lets you see the most popular popular sights along the interesting and different districts and neighborhoods of the city. And what is great that you can all do it in a couple of hours.
For a twist, try a scenic Bosphorus Cruise, and learn about the city’s rich history and architecture while sailing between two continents.
Another delightful summertime activity in Istanbul is the Bosphorus cruise. The city’s magnificent colors come alive with the first rays of the sun, and there’s no better way to witness this spectacle than on a Bosphorus tour.
Catch one of the tour boats from districts like Eminonu, Kabatas, Besiktas, or Ortakoy, and enjoy the sea breeze as you soak up the stunning views.
Princes’ Islands Excursion
Summer is the perfect time to visit the charming Princes’ Islands. The islands offer numerous activity options including cycling, swimming, and walking. Spend a day wandering around the streets filled with historic houses, cycling, and savoring the warm weather.
Istanbul’s forests are cool and vibrant in the summer months. A leisurely nature walk is a perfect way to enjoy the summer air and rejuvenate your mind. You can choose locations like Atatürk Arboretum or Belgrade Forest for such an adventure. With its variety of tree species and quaint ponds, Atatürk Arboretum is an ideal spot for walking!
Swimming – Beach Clubs
During the hot summer days, you can enjoy and lounge in the sun, swim in the sea and sip cocktails, and after dark, you can enjoy the beach clubbing atmosphere at the beach clubs and beach bars on the popular Istanbul beaches.
While certain areas of Istanbul’s waters aren’t suitable for swimming due to pollution, there are quality beaches with chic beach clubs further from the city center, such as Kilyos, Princes’ Island, Sile or Riva, that offer clean, inviting waters. For those who prefer a poolside experience, there are numerous swimming pools scattered throughout the city providing an excellent alternative to beat the heat.
Explore Outdoor Attractions
Taking the Cable Car to Pierre Loti Hill
Pierre Loti Hill offers a panoramic view of the Golden Horn. The cable car ride to the top is a fun experience, and once you’re there, you can enjoy a cup of tea at the famous Pierre Loti Café.
Watching Istanbul from Çamlıca Hill
Camlica Hill is the highest point in Istanbul, offering a breathtaking view of the city. It’s a fantastic spot to take in the city’s skyline and escape from the bustling city center.
You can also enjoy Istanbul’s summer by indulging in some retail therapy. On excessively hot days, you might prefer shopping in air-conditioned malls to stay cool. But if you fancy a more historic shopping experience, the streets of Beyoğlu offer a delightful alternative. Here, you can enjoy a pleasant shopping experience, with quaint boutiques and local shops set against the backdrop of historic buildings.
Shopping at the Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, is a shopping paradise. With a wide array of goods from traditional Turkish items to clothing and jewelry, it’s a must-visit place in Istanbul.
Exploring the Spice Bazaar
Also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, this colorful and aromatic market is filled with exotic spices, dried fruits, nuts, and other edibles. It’s a feast for the senses and a great place to pick up some Turkish delicacies.
Visit Istanbul Aquarium and Aqua Florya Shopping Mall
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, it is also one of the best aquariums and theme parks in Europe. You can also enjoy a great leisure time in the Aqua Florya Mall.
Shopping on Bagdat Avenue
Bagdat Avenue is one of Istanbul’s most prominent shopping districts, known for its upscale shops, chic cafes, and restaurants. It’s an ideal location for a day of shopping and dining.
Visiting Boutiques in Nisantasi
Nisantasi is a fashionable neighborhood known for its luxury boutiques, designer stores, and sophisticated dining options. Exploring its boutiques is a must-do for fashion lovers.
Bosphorus Sunset Cruise on a Private Yacht
You can enjoy an exclusive sightseeing experience on the Bosphorus from the private deck of your yacht on a 2 to 3 hours private cruise past some of Istanbul’s most famous sites. You’ll admire the beautiful scenery with 360 degree views from the spacious upper fly-bridge, or enjoy relaxing in comfort on the sun deck or in the comfortable outdoor and indoor lounges.
During the cruise, you’ll just sit back and unwind as you enjoy a cup of tea, coffee or enjoy sipping an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage or cocktail. A comfortable option than the Bosphorus day cruises, especially during hot these summer days.
We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money.
- Bosphorus Sunset Cruise on a Private Yacht – our favorite, you can join the cruise with max 6 people, a minimum of 2 person is needed for renting the yacht, 2,5 hours cruise, snacks, non alcoholic drinks, fresh fruits
- Best Bosphorus Private Yacht Cruises – a list of all the best ones on Get Your Guide
Enjoy Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Entertainment
This is one of the most popular night time entertainments in the city. Mostly preferred with the tourists who want to experience a unique attraction specific to Istanbul. Typical dinner cruises start from the Kabatas pier daily at about 20:00 pm and goes for about 3 hours.
Mystical night out with Whirling Dervishes Show
Whirling Dervishes Show is one of the most visited Istanbul attractions 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.
There are two popular venues that you can watch this show. Book your tickets online in advance as they are selling out quickly.
Istanbul Summer Festivals and Events
You can follow the calendar of exhibitions and events of our pick of top Istanbul venues from below.
- Istanbul Museum of Modern Art in Beyoglu (art, exhibition, film)
- Pera Museum in Taksim (art, exhibition, film)
- Sakip Sabanci Museum in Emirgan (art, exhibition, film)
- Salon IKSV in Beyoglu (concert)
- Bomontiada in Sisli (concert, theater)
- Akbank Sanat in Taksim (art, exhibition, film, concert)
- Zorlu PSM in Besiktas (concert, musical)
Unforgettable Music Experiences
The summer music scene in Istanbul is unparalleled. Enjoy a series of concerts at the Harbiye Open Air Theater or witness the spectacle of the world-renowned Istanbul Music Festival and Istanbul Jazz Festival.
Attending Open-Air Concerts in Harbiye
The Open-Air Theater in Harbiye is a popular venue where Turkey’s most famous artists perform during the summer. After the concert, you can head to Istiklal Street and finish your night enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of Nevizade or Asmalimescit. Attending an open-air concert is a favorite among evening activities in Istanbul.
Istanbul International Music Festival
Istanbul’s International Music Festival is about 3 weeks long music festival, organized by IKSV in June 2023. At this top music festival, you can enjoy remarkable performances of the leading international and local artists, as well as classical music performances inc. Philharmonic Orchestras, baroque music inc. Bach, Vivaldi and Handel and many others, at the several great historical venues such as Hagia Irene Museum, Sureyya Opera House, Rahmi Koc Museum and more. More info muzik.iksv.org/en
Enjoy Istanbul’s International Jazz Festival
Istanbul’s International Jazz Festival is a 3 weeks long music festival, organized by IKSV in July 2023. You can enjoy a showcase of the leading international jazz, soul and blues artists in the city, at the several great venues. We highly recommend you to take part in the night out jazz parties, jazz boat and FREE jazz in the park concerts. More info on caz.iksv.org/en
Venture into the Optical Illusion World at the Museum of Illusions
Interactive exhibits and optical illusions await at this unique museum, perfect for a family outing.
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?
* You can explore the majority of the sights and sounds of the city on foot. You will mostly need to take a tram as for transportation in between old and modern city.
* So get an IstanbulKart as you can have access all the public transportation network of Istanbul.
* 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.