Top 10 things to do in Istanbul

Are you looking for the top things to do in Istanbul as a tourist? Here are 10 of our favorite things to do in Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was originally a church and was built in the years 532-537. After the fall of Constantinople, they converted the church into a mosque. 1934 Kemal Ataturk decided that Hagia Sophia would be a museum. The amazing architecture has been admired for centuries and is still considered one of the history’s most beautiful architectural buildings.

Hagia Sophia has played a major role in both Christianity and Islam. This is definitely one of the most interesting places to visit in Istanbul as a tourist. 

Bosphorus River Cruise

Go on a boat trip along the Bosphorus River and enjoy the lovely atmosphere and the beautiful views. We recommend an evening with dinner and drinks during the boat trip. An excellent way to experience beautiful Istanbul.

It’s also a fun activity in Istanbul with kids

The Blue Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque

The Blue Mosque

This is a large mosque in the center of Istanbul and one of Turkey’s most famous mosques. The Blue Mosque is officially called Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) and is one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist attractions. The mosque was built in the early 1600s by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed. The Hagia Sophia partly inspired the architecture.

The name “Blue Mosque” is coming from the mosque are covered in ceramic tiles from Iznik, which has blue details.

Süleymaniye Mosque

Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul’s largest mosque, which is also a well-known tourist attraction, the Süleymaniye Mosque is often neglected for the Blue Mosque. If you like architecture, art, culture and religious buildings, you should definitely plan a visit to Süleymaniye Mosque too.

Blå Moskén

Topkapi Palace

The palace is located in the center of Istanbul between the Golden Horn and the Marmara Sea. Here lived the Ottoman sultans from 1465 to 1853. The palace is actually comprised of several buildings with interconnecting courtyards. Topkapi Palace was a city within a city with room for up to 4000 people. In 1853 it was abandoned as the dynasty’s residence in favor of the newer Dolmabahçe Palace.

Nowadays, Topkapi Palace is a museum and a classic tourist attraction in Istanbul. Inside the palace, they have kept several relics, some that even are said to come from the Prophet Muhammad.

Hammam baths

Want to pamper your body and soul? visit a hammam bath. This is the Turkish variant of a steam bath, which also offers massage and other treatments. The Turkish bathing culture actually originated from ancient Rome, but has since gained an important place in Turkish daily life.

Going to a hammam bath is without a doubt one of the must things to do in Istanbul.

Grand Bazaar

The Great Bazaar is one of the world’s largest markets. It goes through 61 streets and has over 3,000 shops and stalls. The market is visited daily by 250,000 to 400,000 people. If you want to go shopping or bargain hunting, this is the place to go.

A visit to this ancient city is not complete without having been to the big bazaar, and a planned visit here should be written down immediately on your list of things to do in Istanbul. 

Start your day early to avoid the biggest crowds here, and eat breakfast nearby. See this guide with the best places to eat breakfast in Istanbul.



When you think of Istanbul, nightlife is perhaps not the first thing you think of, but the fact is that Istanbul has one of Europe’s best nightlife. Here are everything from huge nightclubs and bars to luxurious lounges and rooftop bars with stunning views and good drinks.

Prices are good and give great value for money. Thanks to such a wide variety, there is something to suit all tastes.

Gülhane Park

A historical green oasis in Istanbul, perfect if you want to get away from the crowds and enjoy a quiet moment. Gülhane Park is great, and although there are many who daily visit the park, it is not difficult to find a secluded spot for a cozy picnic. The park is located outside the Topkapi Palace.


A cafe/restaurant in two parts. In one part they serve traditional Turkish cuisine, and in the second part, they’re serving pastries, coffee and tea. Köşkeroğlu is well known among locals, but not as well known among tourists. The atmosphere is genuine, and the pastries are delicious, especially their baklava.

Address: Mumhane Cd. Kat Otoparki Alti No: 2/2 | Karakoy.

Adalar (Princes Islands)

Prince Islands is a Turkish group of islands in the Sea of Marmara. Prince Islands consists of 9 islands, of which 4 of them are inhabited. The largest island called Büyükada and is also the island with the most tourism. Daily ferries from Istanbul, but it is expensive with hotel and restaurant visits.

Therefore, we recommend that you bring your own picnic and head over on a day trip. There are also several places where you can swim, so don’t forget your swimsuit!


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