Istanbul offers great attractions and things to do for travelers, with its colorful daily city life and dynamic nightlife. And a trip to this magical metropolis wouldn’t be complete without seeing the top 10 attractions in Istanbul. Of course it is not possible to mention all the best things to do in Istanbul, but here you may find the most fascinating ones that you won’t want to miss during your Istanbul stay. Make sure to tick these top things to do in Istanbul off your list.
1. Historic Day Out in Sultanahmet
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 Sultanahmet neighborhood. It is the best way to get the most out of the city’s sights, sounds, and scents.
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.
2. Take a Bosphorus Cruise
Bosphorus Cruise is one of the more popular and fantastic forms of entertainment on your Istanbul visit.
Typical Bosphorus Cruises begin slightly to the east of the famous Galata Bridge and continues to Anadolu Kavagi which is the Bosphorus’ entrance to the Black Sea making numerous sightseeing stops along the strait.
3. Explore the city 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…
4. 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. There are two popular venues that you can watch this show. Book your tickets online in advance as they are selling out quickly. Continue reading…
5. 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 Arts are amongst the best museums in Istanbul that won’t want to miss. Continue reading…
6. Experience and enjoy the Turkish Cuisine
Istanbul offers wide range of Turkish cuisine at the variety of well established, good and luxury Istanbul restaurants. The traditional Turkish cuisine is really worth a taste. Travelers may choose from a wide range of Turkish kebabs, mezes (starters) and dishes that are mostly based on meat. Also Turkish sweets such as baklava and Turkish delight are worldwide famous. We recommend you take guided Istanbul food and culinary tours to take the advantage of tasting and experiencing Turkish cuisine along the popular tourist zones. Continue reading…
7. Fun day out at the Istanbul’s Theme Parks
Istanbul offers great theme parks ranging from huge ones with variety of great thrills and rides to aquariums, dolphinariums, themed museums and more. Amusement and theme parks are not only the places for fun, but also great places for your kids’ learning and imagination development. We recommend you to visit the Vialand, Aquarium Sea Life Istanbul and Istanbul LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Continue reading…
8. Enjoy the intense Nightlife of Istanbul
Entertainment in Istanbul revolves around many of the entertainment venues that the city has to offer. The nightlife in Istanbul has really come alive in recent years and the locals will all tell you that the nightlife spreads out in all directions throughout the city. With its numerous bars, pubs, cafes, night clubs, music venues and restaurants of Istanbul, you can easily spend the night bouncing from one venue to the next. Continue reading…
9. Enjoy the best views of the City
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. Continue reading…
10. Enjoy the Shopping Scene of the City
The variety of the traditional and modern products offered at the Ottoman’s originated historical bazaars and modern shopping malls, makes the city an attraction center for shopping lovers. The world famous Grand Bazaar (Kapalicarsi) is one of the greatest historical malls in the world, with its more than 4000 shops. The Egyptian Spice Bazaar (Misir Carsisi) is also very popular where you can enjoy the scenery of the various spices, dried fruits, basketry, jewelry, drapery and haberdashery. Continue reading…
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
Top 10 Things to Do in Istanbul by Months
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in January
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in February
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in March
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in April
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in May
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in June
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in July
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in August
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in September
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in October
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in November
- Top 10 things to do in Istanbul in December
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 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 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 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.
Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.
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.
Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.
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.