What to Do in Istanbul?Visit Hagia Sophia, Shop at the famous Grand Bazaar, Tour of the Blue Mosque, Walk through the Istiklal Avenue, Cruise the Bosphorus, Sapanca And Masukiye Tour, ATV tour In Belgrad, Princes’ island tour, Green bursa tour, Tour to Gallipoli, Explore the Troy, Visit Pergamon, Go to the Ephesus, Visit Pamukkale and Explore Cappadocia, Lake Sapanca Tour and many more.
There is no perfect way, to sum up, all the things to do in Istanbul as its compelling history and thriving culture makes it a place completely addictive. Whether you are a foodie, an architecture lover, a history buff, or a simple traveller, Istanbul has something for you.
It is a perfect blend of European and Asian cultures that will delight your senses by offering various kinds of activities for you. Some of the most enthralling Things to do in Istanbul with family includes, shopping across 5000 shops in the Grand Bazaar, paying a visit to the mosque converted into a museum - Hagia Sophia and sighting wonderful views of the city from the tall Galata towers.
All these will certainly give you a breathtaking experience and unforgettable memories with your loved ones, to take back home. You will definitely find Istanbul in a new avatar once the sun goes down. You can literally take part in a number of things to do in Istanbul at night like partying all night at various bars and clubs on the waterfront- the upmarket vibe of the Ortakoy and glittering Istanbul will be a great place for late night parties.
Besides that you can spend your evening watching a live football match or attending a fun improv show, seeing the local talents entertain the audience. Also, you can choose to go for a night tour at some of the city’s best museums or take a stroll around the beautiful lanes of this historic city itself.
Places to Visit and Things to Do in Istanbul
People Also Ask About Istanbul Things To Do
Which are the best things to do in Istanbul?
Here are some of the best things to do in Istanbul:
1. Visit Hagia Sophia: Hagia Sophia happens to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the whole world and visiting it is considered to be one of the best things to do in Istanbul. This heritage architectural marvel of Istanbul was once a church and was later converted into a mosque.
At the present time, it is a museum that exhibits various relics and important remnants of the times gone by. This monument has gone through a series of reconstructions and restorations. Visitors come over to this place to witness the intricate design and artworks, mosaics, and calligraphy works.
Location: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydani No:1, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
Price: 72 Turkish Liras
Timings: 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM
2. Shop at the famous Grand Bazaar: Grand Bazaar is considered one of the most important marketplaces in Istanbul for its amazing variety of offerings. The bazaar is home to more than 5000 shops and covers almost 60 streets.
Shopping at this famous marketplace is considered to be one of the must things to do in Istanbul. Tourists love to shop various collectables and souvenirs of Istanbul from this place.
Location: Beyazit, Kalpakçilar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
Timings: 10 AM to 6 PM
3. Tour of the Blue Mosque: Blue Mosque Aka Sultan Ahmed Mosque is one of the most famous in Istanbul, which is visited by zillions of tourists every single day. The name blue mosque has been christened to the structure because of the blue tiles on the walls of its interiors.
The mosque is still used for daily prayers and offerings. Tourists visiting this mosque need to be careful about certain rules and regulations. As per the Islamic tradition, everyone entering the mosque should come in full covered dress.
The mosque is also known for offering a panoramic view of the city from a watchtower that was built in the year 1960. Climbing up the towers to get the view is the best thing to do in Istanbul.
Location: Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydani Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
Timings: no specific opening and closing timings.
4. Walk through Istiklal Avenue: More than 3 million people visit Istiklal Avenue every single day. It is one of the most incredible things to do in Istanbul. With a 1.4 km long walkway that is home to everything starting from cinema theatres to nightclubs and cafés to boutiques.
If you don’t like walking on the streets, you can take a ride on the historic tram to Taksim Square and sight the monument of the republic.
5. Cruise the Bosphorus: When you are in Istanbul, you must not forget visiting the Asian side of the city. Tourists love going on cruise tours from the north to the south of the shorelines exploring the customs.
In the course of the cruise trip, you should stopover at Kanlica, which is well known for its thick yoghurt. This cruise tour will be a once in a lifetime experience and is one of the interesting things to do in Istanbul.
Location: Bosphorus Strait
6. Sapanca And Masukiye Tour: If you are someone who loves to spend some time with nature then this tour is completely curated for you. You will find the place magical and photogenic. The best part of this tour will be the chance to see a wide range of animals, fishes, and birds at the zoo in Darica, which is the largest zoo in Istanbul.
You can try out various adventure activities like mountain climbing and hiking tours at this place as well. The Masukiye village tour will also delight your senses with its picturesque waterfalls and cascades. Taking the trail at Sapanca and Masukiye is certainly one of the best things to do in Istanbul as you could spend some time close to nature.
Location: Sakarya, Turkey
7. ATV Tour In Belgrad: Belgrad is a place in Istanbul, which is known all over the world for its amazing adventure opportunities. It offers thrilling ATV ride experiences to tourists seeking out adventure. You can learn driving ATV from the riding educators and guides before trying out your hands on the actual terrain.
At the end of the ride, you will also receive the photos and videos of the rides. Adventure junkies will surely love the ride and keep this event on the top list of their things to do in Istanbul.
8. Princes’ Island Tour: A tour to the Princes' Island in Istanbul will surely be an escape from the busy streets and lively atmosphere. This full-day excursion will take you close to the tales of the famous Byzantine Empire passing through Topkapi Palace, Uskudar, and Leander's Tower.
The best part of this tour will be to have lunch at the famous fish restaurant and enjoy some time in relaxation at the beach. You will fall in love with the amazing scenic beauty and this amazing tour. Include this trip to the list of your things to do in Istanbul.
9. Green Bursa Tour: Bursa is yet another important place to visit near Turkey where you can enjoy the famous ropeway ride over the snow clad mountains. It is a widely held place for nature lovers and history buffs. Witnessing the scenic beauty from the window panes of the ropeway will surely be a once in a lifetime experience here.
Location: Yildirim/Bursa, Turkey
10. Tour to Gallipoli, Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus, Pamukkale and Cappadocia: You can go on a six-day tour to visit some of the major highlights of Turkey near the city of Istanbul. You will be visiting all the places of attractions in all these cities as well as taking part in various adventure events.
You will surely be impressed with the things to do in Istanbul such as heritage exploration tours, nature walks and much more. All these literally take you close to the heritage and culture of Istanbul.
11. Lake Sapanca Tour: Head out on a tour to explore the serenity of Lake Sapanca and its surroundings. You can plan this itinerary in such a way that you can stopover at some of the nearby tourist attractions like Kartepe Mountain.
The Sapanca is considered to be one of the very few lakes in Turkey that provide crystal clear water for drinking purposes. The tour is full of activities as you can walk, cycle and enjoy the beauty of the picturesque setting of nature.
Location: Sakarya, Turkey
What are the things to do in Istanbul at night?
Here are some of the best things to do in Istanbul at night:
1. Visit the famous Pera Museum: The Pera museum in Istanbul remains open to the public till late in the evening. Located near Istiklal, this museum is a well-known place for art lovers, with five floors that display various relics of the bygone times.
You will come across time telling and classic paintings by Sergey Parajanov and many more. The exhibits on display are changed every few months so that you can visit this museum repeatedly.
2. Watch a soccer game: Watching a soccer game is considered to be one of the most interesting things to do in Istanbul at night. Istanbul is a soccer-loving country and has big teams namely Besiktas JK, Fenerbahçe SK, and Galatasaray Sk. The only thing that you need to be careful is getting the tickets and once you have them, your evening will surely go well in the stands.
3. Enjoy an Improv show: Improv is the local skit and drama performance. The shows are generally held on every first and third Friday of each month at sharp 8:30 PM near Yota Komedi Sahnesi. You can get your tickets and some beer from the shop right down to make the show more interesting. The locals term it as one of the best things to do in Istanbul at night.
4. Climb up to the Galata Tower: The Galata Tower is one such place from where you can get a 360-degree view of the city. The tower was built in the year 1348 and since then it has been one of the most loved attractions for the locals as well as tourists at night.
The best time to visit this place would be after sunset when the city would be glittering with lights. The tower is located at Buyuk Hendek Cad., Istanbul and the tickets are available up until 8:30 PM.
What are the most romantic things to do in Istanbul for couples?
Here are some of the best things to do in Istanbul with family:
1. Try a couple Turkish bath: Turkish bath is something that at all times remains on the top of the to-do list for any couple visiting Istanbul. If you are an adventure-loving and regular spa-going couple, then the Turkish bath will surely amaze you.
Bathing with your soulmate in the middle of awe-inspiring beautiful and historical interiors will definitely wave your mind. Some of the places to try out a Turkish bath in Istanbul are Raffles Spa and Sanitas Spa.
2. Admire the romantic sightseeing walks at Hagia Sophia: Hagia Sophia is one such place in Istanbul where couples love to walk through the corridors admiring the beautiful and the romantic face of Istanbul. You can walk with your better half and marvel at the epitome of Byzantine architecture that is ornamented with gilded interiors with Quranic Verses and Christian mosaics.
3. Wander through the Sunken Palace at the Basilica Cistern: The Basilica Cistern is one of the coolest places in the city of Istanbul. The locals consider it the best place for escaping the heat of the summertime. You can come over to this place, stroll over the raised walkways with your beloved, and see the amazing architecture of Istanbul's ancient remnants. The music and lighting of this calm atmosphere will spark romance between couples.
What are the things to do in Istanbul with kids?
1. Head out to Vialand with Kids: Vialand is an amazing place in Istanbul that entertains all ages and tastes. This place is designed to change your concept of entertainment in the first place. Vialand has play zones for kids that would keep them engaged.
Moreover, people of other ages will also have a wide range of entertainment events under a single roof like the adventure zones, history zones for antiquity buffs and a shopping zone for shopping addicts.
2. Visit the famous Rahmi Koc Museum: The Rahmi Koc Museum is located on the coastline of the Golden Horn in Haskoy. The museum is spread over an area of about 27000 square meters and is divided into a number of segments.
The exhibition halls display a wide range of classic cars and aeroplanes in the open air. Your kids will definitely fall in love with the historical anchor house and husky dockyards that are also here.
3. Be a part of the workshop in the Istanbul Modern: The Istanbul Modern is located on the shores of Bosporus and it is spread over an area of almost 8000 square meters. It is home to countless exhibition halls, photography galleries, library, cinema theatre, restaurant, and much more. Your kids can take part in various educational, social and artistic workshops held at this place.
4. Visit Jurassic land: Jurassic land entices kids as well as the adults to discover the land of dinosaurs. It is located in Bayrampasa and is designed based on the edutainment concept that blends education and entertainment.
The land is constructed over an area of almost 1000 square meters and has more than 70 dinosaur models that can move. This place will surely be a point of interest for your kids in Istanbul. The cinema effect of Jurassic land is 4D-6, which is the largest in Turkey.
What can you do in Istanbul for free?
Istanbul is a place for being wanderlust among the plethora of things to do and see. Check out some of the things that you can try out for free:
1. Take a tour of the Jewish Museum of Turkey
Zülfaris Synagogue is one of the oldest museums in the world that was established in the year 1671. This is one of the best places in Istanbul where you can learn about the glorious history of the place as well as have a glimpse of the age-old relics.
2. Head out on an excursion to Yildiz Park
Yildiz Park is a lovely park that is situated in the middle of the city. A day out at the place will be very relaxing for your senses. The picturesque beauty of the old Ottoman houses, duck ponds, scenic pathways will tranquillize you in its beauty.
3. Admire the fascinating architecture of Zeyrek Camii
The Zeyrek Camii is the second largest that was constructed in the Byzantine era. It has two Eastern Orthodox churches and a chapel. The architecture of this place will amaze you and keep you awestruck.
Which are the best places to shop in Istanbul?
Here are some of the best places to shop in Istanbul:
1. Grand Bazaar: Grand Bazaar, one of the largest market streets in Istanbul that has been selling a wide range of things like jewelry, leather, gifts and many other Turkish specialties from a considerable time in the past. It is considered to be the best place to get souvenirs from Istanbul to keep the memoirs of the trip alive all through your life.
Location: Grand Bazaar, Beyazit Mh., Kalpakçilar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
Timings: Mon-Sat: 9am - 7pm (closed on Sun)
2. Spice Bazaar: Spice Bazaar is the marketplace in Istanbul that deals with a wide range of spices, Turkish Delights, jewelry, dried fruits, nuts, sweets and of course souvenirs. There are 85 shops in the spice market and it is a wonderful place for purchasing any kind of stuff in Istanbul.
Location: Spice Bazaar, Rüstem Pasa Mahallesi, Erzak Ambari Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
Timings: Mon - Fri: 8am - 7pm; Sat: 8am - 7.30pm; Sun: 9.30am - 7 pm
3. Serdar-i Ekrem
It is one of the coolest marketing streets in Istanbul. This tiny street finished cobblestones deal with cool boutiques. You can find designer showrooms of world-class designers like Arzu Kaprol. Apart from being home to numerous designer stores, this place is also known for its amazing cafes.
Location: Serdar-i Ekrem Caddesi, Galata, Istanbul, Turkey
Which are the most impressive buildings in Istanbul?
Istanbul is one such city in the world that is home to numerous impressive architectural marvels. Check out some of the impressive buildings in Istanbul here:
1. Süleymaniye Mosque: The Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul is grand from all its corners as it is the second-largest city in the city. Located on the top of the hills, this heritage monument appears to be majestic of all other imperial structures.
The gigantic dome and the four towering minarets add on the beauty of the breathtaking mosque. Besides the mosque, there is a widespread lush garden that offers scenic panoramic views of the Golden Horn and Bosporus.
2. Blue Mosque: This happens to be one of the voluptuous monuments in Istanbul that was constructed by Sultan Ahmet I. The mosque has an undulating exterior appearance that makes it one of the most photographed buildings in the city.
The chief architect of the mosque was Sedefkâr Mehmet Aga, who ornamented the mosque with slender minarets and interiors decorated with Blue Iznik tiles. The most impressive part of this construction is its sacredness and tranquillity.
What are the best adventure activities in Istanbul?
Check out some of the best adventure activities in Istanbul that you can try:
1. Hot air ballooning
Hot air ballooning in Istanbul is truly a heart-stopper afloat in the air. It is considered to be one of the top and most exciting adventure sports to try out as it offers a perfect bird's eye view of the city. Most of the tourists and romantic couples prefer trying it to boost their adrenaline.
2. Scuba diving
Istanbul has its fair share of water bodies on almost all sides, which makes water sports one of the most sought after adventure activities. Caves, wrecks and canyons happen to be the areas where tourists love to dive into the water and explore the underwater territory.
There are a number of scuba diving training schools near the shorelines to train the amateurs. The best time to go scuba diving in Istanbul is from the month of April to the month of November.
3. White water rafting
Tourists will definitely have a great and a memorable moment rafting in the white waters of Istanbul. It is an ideal adventure sport to try out for solo and family travellers. White water rafting is surely a white-knuckle experience and Istanbul provides a number of spots tailor-made to deliver the right fun to the visitors.
4. Water and jeep Safari
Safari tours in Istanbul have been one of the new-fangled outdoor activities that are gaining a considerable amount of love and attention from the tourists. The resorts near the coastlines provide opportunities for parasailing, jet skiing, and banana rides.
The safari on the jeep will take you through countless spellbinding canyons and ancient ruins on the hilly terrains. It will be a full-day tour through varied landscapes by a jeep. You will definitely have a relaxed session with your loved ones on board.
How can I reach Istanbul?
Istanbul can be reached from India by means of direct flights being operated by both Air India and Turkish Airlines from Mumbai and New Delhi. You can also catch direct flights by operators like Aeroflot, Etihad Airways, and Oman Air from any other international airports of India like Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. If you are coming from any other place around the world, you have numerous options to fly to this amazing place.
Istanbul has a well-connected rail network to many neighbouring cities of Europe. Moreover, the high-speed trains connect Istanbul to the capital city of Ankara among other cities in Turkey.
Istanbul connects with all important cities of Turkey with motorways. Most of the roads are toll roads and HGS is used to pay at the toll plazas.
What is the best time to visit Istanbul?
The best time to visit Istanbul is from the month of March to May and again from September to November. In these timeframes of the year, the climate of Istanbul remains moderate and makes it favourable for tourism.
The climate of Istanbul is largely influenced by the Mediterranean type of climate. July is considered to be the hottest month in Istanbul and December is the wettest month. However, the climate of this place does not get so bad that it can derail all your travel plans.
What is Istanbul famous for?
Istanbul is a world-famous city in Turkey for its rich cultural history, magnificent architectural marvels, stunning scenery and plethora of other aspects. The city has also been one of the prominent centres of trade and commerce as well.
Istanbul is much popular in the world for its multitude of places of tourist attraction and fabulous shopping experiences at the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. On top of all, how can one forget the cuisine of Istanbul?
It is considered one of the best Middle Eastern cuisines that lets one experience the true spirit of the city. If you are a foodie, then you should not miss out on trying the famous Kebabs, Baklava, Turkish Delight and the Turkish tea.
Is it safe to go to Istanbul?
Yes, Istanbul is completely safe as a vacation destination. The safe environment pulls tourists from all over the world and makes them indulge in a variety of things to do in Istanbul with family.
If you are thinking of planning a visit to Istanbul then it would be better to remain vigilant and get in touch with the concerned authorities if you feel there is any danger. The police authorities and local people of Istanbul are considered very helpful.
Is Istanbul worth visiting?
It would certainly be worth visiting this amazing place in the Middle East. Istanbul is a dream destination as the city shelters various layers of colours, culture and an essence of the bygone times with its history.
You can take part in any of the things to do in Istanbul with family and create memories.It is very popular for its amazing architectural marvels and delicious recipes. If you are in search of a break from your fervid life, a trip to this place will surely make you feel better with its lush green gardens, teahouses, and mosques. Exploring the taste of the ancient city and enjoying the bright side of the Istanbul will create a mark in your mind and heart.
Do I need a visa for Istanbul?
Yes, you need to have a valid visa for entering Istanbul. If you are coming to this country for a short period, then you can apply for a short-term tourist visa. If your plans are for staying for a longer period, then you need to apply for a long-term visa. Schengen Visas are also valid to enter into Istanbul.
Does Istanbul have a beach?
Yes, Istanbul has a number of serene beaches in its widespread coastline. It is home to several lovely beaches with beautiful picturesque beauty where beachgoers can enjoy the core. Tourists love to bathe in the sun, swim in the azure blue water of the sea, and sip a wide range of cocktails and mocktails on the beach.
You can also try out various other things to do in Istanbul with family like sightseeing and expeditions in the daytime and relish the clubbing atmosphere after sundown. Some of the famous beaches in and around Istanbul are:
- Solar Beach Therapy – in Kilyos
- Burch Beach – in Kilyos
- Uzunya Beach – in Kilyos
- Elio Sedef Beach – in Sedef Island
- Aqua Green Beach Club – in Heybeliada
- Uzunkum Beach & Aqua Beach Club – in Sile
How many days are enough in Istanbul?
If you want to explore all the flavours of Istanbul, then it would be better if you plan an itinerary for at least 10 – 12 days. In this time, you can visit a number of heritage places, museums, and spend some time on the serene beaches.
Istanbul is a true paradise for holidaymakers seeking out for fun in a far off place. In the course of the trip, you should find out the time and unwind yourself in the surreal natural beauty of the place. Sightseeing, adventure activities and relaxation are the best things to do in Istanbul with family, friends or even on your own.
Which is the most famous bridge in Istanbul?
The 15 July Martyrs Bridge is considered to be the most famous bridge in Istanbul. The bridge connects two continents and carries more than 200000 vehicles every single day. It was opened to the public in 1973 connecting Eastern Europe to Western Asia. A visit to this bridge will certainly take you close to the advanced architecture of Istanbul.
Which are the best places to go for a Turkish bath?
Some of the best places to go for a Turkish bath are:
- Spa Alanya
- Villa Sunflower Spa & Turk Hamami
- Lale Hamam Turkish Bath
- Karatas Spa Hamam
- Kleopatra Turkish Bath
- Orient VIP Turkish Bath & Spa
- Aqua Jasmine Spa & Hamam
- Sultan Spa Wellness
- Bella Donna Spa Center
- Delfino Turkish Bath
- Caspian Salus Hamam Spa & Wellness
- Zenn Spa
- Sandal Turkish Bath Spa
- Mimoza Hamam Turkish Bath
- HanZade Hamam Spa Center
- Sunflower Spa Hamam
- Tao Spa
- Golden hands
- Nasrettin Hoca Sauna & Hammam
- Grand Alanya II Vip Hamam & Spa Center
- Arsi Turkish Bath, Spa & Wellness
What should I avoid in Istanbul?
A number of things need to be avoided in the course of your stay in Istanbul are:
- Do not stay close to the places of tourist attractions as you will be at all times disturbed by the hustle and bustle.
- Avoid taking the tram on Istiklal street as you will waste a lot of time travelling.
- Avoid shopping on Istiklal because of unreasonable prices for tourists
- Do not purchase apple tea because the quality is not up to the mark.
- Avoid wearing revealing clothes as Istanbul culture doesn’t allow it.
Can you swim in the sea in Istanbul?
Istanbul is surrounded by the Black and Marmara Sea which is also linked by the Bosporus and many other small islands. You can swim in the water bodies but it is at all times advised not to do that as the water is highly averted by the ships.
The movement of ships has made the water very polluted and swimming in the polluted water will give rise of skin irritation and infections. The Annual Bosphorus swim event is organized every year which is supposed to be a continental race event.
What are the essential items that one must pack while travelling to Istanbul?
If you are planning to visit Istanbul in your next holiday season, you should carry the following list of things with you so that you do not come across any problems in the course of your tour:
- You should carry the appropriate type of clothing depending on the time of the year when you are visiting Istanbul. If you are visiting the city in the summer season, then it is recommended to carry jeans, shorts, tops and some airy clothes. If you are visiting in the winter season, you should not forget to carry some warm clothes.
- You should not wear short dresses when visiting mosques in Istanbul, therefore, pack a st or two of appropriate clothing as well as a scarf..
- You should remember to carry your bag of toiletries like toothpaste and other bathroom essentials. It is advised to carry a moisturizer at all times.
- You should keep all your important travel documents like visa and passport with you all the time.
- Other than that, carry medicines for emergencies, your phone charger, a power-bank, camera and all other things that you may find needful.