The best things to do in Istanbul
Istanbul is a real cultural getaway for those willing to discover Europe and Asia at the same time. Located in the border of the 2 continents makes Istanbul the best travel destination. Its vibrant streets, narrow streets, mosques, food markets make Istanbul a real mixture of tastes and senses. Let's discover the best things you should absolutely try in Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia is the most frequently visited tourist attraction not only in Istanbul but also in Turkey. For over a thousand years it has been admired by city residents and tourists. Originally, the building was built as a Christian church, but it changed several times the name and survived a lot of destruction. Also, for more than a thousand years, the St. Sophia Cathedral was the largest Christian church in the world. It is so ancient, that by mosaics in the interior, you can study the evolution of Byzantine art over several centuries. The height of the church of Hagia Sophia is 55.6 meters, and the dome itself is 31.5 meters in diameter.
The Sultanahmet Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque, also the Ahmediye Mosque, is one of the largest religious constructions in Istanbul. It is located in the historical center of the city, just in front of the Hagia Sophia museum. The Mosque was named after the Sultan Ahmet who built it. The second name - Blue Mosque - was given to it by tourists for the blue color, which is used a lot in the decoration of the luxurious interior of the building. The construction of the mosque began in 1609 and was completed only after 7 years. This is a working mosque and the entrance here is free; anyone can go inside.
Visiting museums is an important part of exploring Istanbul and Turkish culture. One of the most popular is the Istanbul Modern Art Museum. To save time and money, you can get a museum card. Skip the line 5-day museum pass includes the entrance to the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Hagia Irene, Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum.
The Grand Bazaar or the market of Kapala Charshi (tour. Kapalıçarşı) in Istanbul has been known since 1461. It was built by order of Sultan Mehmed II from 1455 to 1461. Today, the Turkish Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. Inside it, there are 61 streets, 4400 shops, 2195 studios, 18 fountains, 12 mosques, 12 warehouses, one school, one bath, several cafes and currency exchange offices. It is visited daily by 250,000-400,000 buyers. Grand Bazaar is known for its jewelry, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroidery, spices and antique shops. They also sell scarves, clothes (often copies of expensive brands), products from stained glass, copper, leather, carpets, sweets, etc. On the main street of the bazaar there are many jewelry stores. In this market, as in Turkey in general, you need to bargain to get the best price. The best time to visit the Bazaar is in the afternoon, at about 5 o'clock. There are always fewer visitors before closing.
Galata Tower is one of the oldest monuments and main attractions in Istanbul. It has a height of 61 meters and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. The Galata Tower was built by the Genoese in the middle of the 14th century. For centuries, the Genoese Galata Tower was used as a fire tower, as a starting point for air travel, and as a place to take panoramic photos of Istanbul. And in 1965, Galata was opened to the public. Today, the tower has an observation deck, a restaurant, and a nightclub. Also for 5 euros, you can be photographed in the national Turkish costume. The restaurant serves Turkish and international cuisine. The prices are quite high, but the view from the windows on the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the city is worth it.
One of the best things to do while visiting Turkey is to try a real Turkish Hammam. Many hotels have a spa area and offer hammam and Turkish massage services. A visit to the bath is an important part of Turkish culture. Traditional Muslim teaching says that the soul and body must be clean. In addition to deep cleansing, hamam is also good for health and strengthens the immune system. So, the great experience of the Turkish Hammam will allow you to relax and improve your health.
One of the oldest Turkish palaces, for a long time Topkapi has been the main residence in the Ottoman Empire. It is located in the historical center of Istanbul, on top of the peninsula with a beautiful view of the Bosphorus. Topkapi palace covers an area of seven hundred thousand square meters. It consists of four separate courtyards and is stretching for five kilometers. When the Topkapi was the palace of the sultan, it had a shelter, a treasury, an armory, bakeries, sultan stables, a lush garden and flower terraces with fountains, as well as a sultans harem. Most of the interiors and decorations of the palace of those times survived to the present day.
Bosphorus dinner cruise
Istanbul is the only city in the world that is located at the same time in Europe and Asia, which are separated by Bosphorus. The Bosphorus is a strait that connects the Marble and Black seas. Its length is 32 km. One of the best ways to explore the Bosphorus is a boat dinner cruise. During such a sea tour, you can discover Istanbul from the water, taste delicious Turkish food and enjoy the beautiful views.
Basilica cistern is an ancient underground reservoir of Constantinople, located at a depth of 10-12 meters. A large supply of drinking water was stored in the cistern in case of drought or siege of the city. It can fit about 100 thousand tons of water. By the way, the Basilica tank resembles a palace, as it consists of 336 nine-meter columns. All columns look different, as they were brought from various ancient temples.