Places to visit in Istanbul City

Remarkably known as Constantinople and Byzantium, Istanbul is the cultural center of Turkey. It has different monuments that attract tourists and sightseers worldwide, making it one of the world’s most visited cities. If you’re interested in going to Istanbul either on vacation or tour, here are some top places to visit in Istanbul that will blow your mind away.

Let us dive in

Places to visit in Istanbul City

1. Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

One of the most visited tourist attractions in Turkey is the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya). It is also internationally recognized as a significant work of architecture. The interior is decorated with mosaics, marble pillars, and coverings of high value. The Hagia Sophia is considered to be a monument of beauty.

According to a legend at completion, Emperor Justinian inaugurated the Aya Sofya in 537AD and proclaimed, “Solomon, I have outdone thee’ because of its magnificent decorations at that time. It was initially built as a church and later converted to a museum. It is also considered to be one of the UNESCO heritage sites.

In 2020, it was reopened as a mosque, but visitations are free and open to the public. If you plan to spend time and do a bit of tourism, you should consider checking out the Hagia Sofia.

Hagia Sophia

2. The Blue Mosque

Also known as the Sultan Ahmet Camii, the blue mosque is loved by many tourists and sits next to the Hagia Sophia. Built-in 1616, it incorporates many byzantine elements of the Hagia Sophia. Its upper area is decorated with hand-painted ceramics tiles in different tulip patterns. 

The name Blue mosque is from the breathtaking sight of the mosque bathed in blue light at night. The blue tiles frame this on the upper levels of the interior and the dome. With five main domes, eight secondary domes, and six minarets, it is a sight to check out any time you visit Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque
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3. The Grand Bazaar

The grand bazaar was the number one among the most visited tourist attractions globally (2014). Today, it attracts up to 40,000 visitors daily. Why? Tourists like to shop, and the grand bazaar is like a utopia with more than 4000 shops and 500 stalls. Even if you are not a fan of shopping, you can still revel in the luxury and diversity of goods on display. The construction of this market dates back to 1400, and till today, it still carries this aura of history. The grand bazaar should be high up on your list of top places to visit in Istanbul. 

The grand Bazaar Istanbul
The grand Bazaar

4. The Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is the largest of the hundreds of cisterns underneath Istanbul. It supplied water to the royal palace during the reign of Justinian. It contains very little water, and it’s more of a tourism venue than a water reservoir. On the far left corner of the cistern are the two popular medusas used as column bases. One is positioned upside and the other tilted to the side. History and myths surround them, making this cistern one of the top places to visit in Istanbul.

The Basilica Cistern

5. The Topkapi palace

The Topkapi Palace is a large museum in Istanbul that served as quarters for Sultans in the Ottoman era. Its construction dates back to the 1400s, but it was given the name ‘Topkapi’ in the 19th century. This means “cannon gate.” Parts of this palace-like the Ottoman imperial harem and the treasury, are open to tourists. The Topkapi dagger and the spoon maker’s diamond are on display in the treasury.

The Topkapi Palace

6. Mosque of Suleyman the magnificent

This is an imposing structure commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent. The Süleymaniye Mosque was the largest in Istanbul for more than 400 years. Its vantage position on the third hill allows it to command a breathtaking view of the city. This is one of the best-visited sites in Istanbul. According to historical records, Suleyman alluded to this achievement as a “second Solomon.” It is also a UNESCO designated heritage site worth checking out.

Mosque of Suleyman The Magnificent

7. Galata Tower

At the time it was built in 1348, the Galata was the highest building in Istanbul. Today it still towers above many buildings in Istanbul. This ancient stone observation tower offers you a panoramic view of the city below. After its reconstruction, it opened to the public and is an important place in Istanbul today.

Galata Tower

8. The Istanbul Archaeological Museums

These are three museums, which include the museum of ancient Orient and the museum of Islamic art. These museums are home to over a million artifacts that cut across almost all eras in the world’s history. Its origin dates back to the 1800s and contains over a million artifacts like religious and non-religious coins, medals, and archaeological pieces. These include the statues of Emperor Valentinian II and Alexander the Great. Do you need a trip back in time to appreciate the beauty of ancient history? Then Istanbul archaeological museums are the exceptional sites to visit in Istanbul

The Istanbul Archaeological Museum

9. Princes’ Islands

If you feel like taking a break from seeing mosques and museums, you want a home more attuned to nature. It would be lovely if you considered visiting Prince’s island, an archipelago off Istanbul. There is no motor traffic and the only “vehicles” moving are bicycles, horses, and carts. This greets you with an atmosphere of relative peace and serenity. The islands are just a short ferry distance away from the city. The most important ones include Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada, and Büyükada.

Princes' Islands

10. The Istanbul toy museum

Founded by the Turkish poet Sunay Akin in 2005. The Istanbul Toy Museum is home to toys acquired from auctions and antique shops. They were sourced for 20 years and from more than forty countries. If you intend to visit Istanbul with your kids, you should not miss visiting the Istanbul Toy Museum.

The Istanbul Toy Museum

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Other worthy additions include the hippodrome, the Bosporus River, and more. Istanbul is full of surprises that will keep you exploring with bated breath.


Last but not least, the food scene in Istanbul is not to be missed. If you are a food aficionado just like us, you would like to take a look at the Top items to eat while you are in Istanbul with the best restaurants that offer it.


Did you find this article helpful? Leave a comment in the section below; we will love to hear the first place you want to visit in Istanbul.

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