Places to visit and see in Istanbul are very impressive. Istanbul offers great sights and points of interest for its visitors. Of course it is not possible to mention all the best Istanbul sights, but here you may find the most fascinating, top 10 and the ones that you won’t want to miss on your Istanbul visit.
1. Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque
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.
Located in the Sultanahmet neighborhood, Hagia Sophia is a former church and museum, now a mosque. It is one of the world’s greatest architectural works and accepted as the 8th wonder of the world, experience the history in the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. As it serves as a mosque now, entrance to Hagia Sophia is FREE of charge.
2. Topkapi Palace Museum
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Located in the Sultanahmet neighborhood, Topkapi Palace is a magnificent oriental palace and one of world’s richest museums that is situated on a triangular promontory dominating the Bosphorus & Golden Horn. It was the residence of the Ottoman Sultans from 15th century to mid-19th century. It has four courtyards, terraces with astonishing views, as well as precious collections, one of the top tourist attractions in the city.
3. Basilica Cistern
One of the most impressive and mystical buildings in the city. The two Medusa Heads, which are used as supports under the two columns at the northwest edge of the cistern, take the most interest and attracts the visitors.
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Combo Tickets: Hagia Sophia + Topkapi Palace + Basilica Cistern
This is a great combo ticket. Our favorite. You can visit the above top 3 most visited sights in Sultanahmet with this combo ticket, with skip the lines access. Great value for money. Book your tickets online in advance as they are selling out quickly.
Click the red button to buy Combo online tickets and skip the lines.
Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.
4. Istanbul Archaeology Museums
Located in the Sultanahmet neighborhood, Istanbul Archaeology Museums are one of the richest archaeology museums in the world. The museums contains an immense collection of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine works and items including sculptures and sarcophagi and consist of three separate museums on one site that include the Archaeology Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Tiled Pavilion. That’s why it’s called plural. Continue reading…
5. Galata Tower
Located in the Galata neighborhood, Galata Tower, topped with a distinctive witch’s-hat roof, is an old Genoese tower overlooking the city and has a luxurious restaurant at the top. Travelers may enjoy the 360 degrees excellent panoramic views of Istanbul, Golden Horn and Bosphorus. Continue reading…
6. Sultanahmet Square & Blue Mosque
Located in the Sultanahmet neighborhood, the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque) is a great sample of the Turkish and Islamic architecture and one of the most visited sights and mosques in Istanbul. It can also be considered as a triumph of harmony, proportion and elegance. Continue reading…
7. Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)
Located in the Beyazit neighborhood, the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) is an excellent shopping adventure that you won’t want to miss. A series of covered streets feature over 4,000 merchants all selling their products and wares. You can find anything here from boots and slippers to gold and silver jewelry. Continue reading…
8. Princes’ Islands
The Princes’ Islands is one of the best preserved natural areas and sights in Istanbul. This summer sightseeing islands (Buyukada is the most popular one) was once the pleasure island of the Byzantine Princes, and it boasts a stunning pinewood scenery. You can experience an island tour by horse-drawn carriages, and take a lunch at a local fish restaurant by the sea. Continue reading…
9. 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…
10. Sea Life Aquarium
Sea Life Istanbul is an aquarium and entertainment center located in the Forum Shopping Center in Bayrampasa district. It is the 5th largest aquarium in the world having an impressive 47 display tanks and more than 15,000 sea creatures. 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. Continue reading…
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.
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 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).
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.
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
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.
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.