Best Things to do in Istanbul In 2023

There are a plethora of things to do in Istanbul in 2023 to suit everyone's budget and timeframe to make your visit perfect. Visiting Istanbul is a once-in-a-lifetime event for you to experience the beauty, culture, and history of this ancient city turned cosmopolitan. While in Istanbul you can learn how the city thrives on two continents, the history from the Byzantine Era to the Ottoman Era and understand the culture of the area. Opportunities exist with historical tours which have you viewing incredible architecture and understanding more about this prominent city that has embraced and intertwined numerous cultures from Muslim to Greek to Jewish to the splendors of other European and Asian nations. Each area of the city is special with something unique for you to experience from the Grand Bazaar to the historic Fatih District to the European enclaves of the Ortakoy District and Beyoglu District to the importance of the Golden Horn.


  • Historical Tours

    Historical-and-Heritage-Tours in Istanbul

    Istanbul is a great place for you to try one of the many historical tours that offer insight on how the country was formed, the influences of other countries and civilizations, as well as everyday life in Istanbul. Historical tours range from half to full-day excursions with plenty of options that range from viewing incredible historic architecture to learning about the Ottoman Empire to viewing incredible engineering feats to understanding how the city thrives on two separate continents. While on these excursions you can visit incredible mosques like Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Ortakoy District, and learn the importance of the Grand Bazaar. Other tours will take you to the historic Fatih District or the European side of Istanbul where you can see things like the Rumeli Fortress, Beyoglu District, and let’s not forget about the Golden Horn and Bosphorus Strait which protected numerous empires from enemies.

    Blue Mosque

    Blue Mosque

    An excellent thing to do in Istanbul is to visit the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Blue Mosque. Located in the Sultanahmet District between the Hagia Sophia and the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque was constructed between 1609 and 1616 on the order of Ahmed I. The mosque is a spectacular piece of Ottoman Era architecture that includes numerous Byzantine elements and was the masterpiece of architect Sedefkar Mehmed Aga. The Blue Mosque features five main domes, eight secondary domes, an unusual six minarets, and numerous courtyards. Once inside your eyes will feast on more than 20,000 hand painted glazed ceramic tiles in more than 60 different tulip patterns and some 260 stained glass windows. Other features on the inside include a carved marble mihrab, a blue ceiling, and crystal chandeliers. In the evening blue lights highlight the mosque which is still actively used for prayer and other activities.

    Hagia Sophia

    Hagia Sophia

    A superb thing to do in Istanbul for people who like history and architecture is to visit the imposing structure Hagia Sophia, known today as the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. Located in the Sultanahmet District on the historical Sarayburnu Peninsula, the church turned mosque was originally constructed between 532 and 537 C.E. as the world’s largest place of worship serving the Eastern Roman Empire. Constructed on the order of Justinian I, the Sophia Hagia gives visitors a great look at Byzantine architecture with an interior that features marble pillars, numerous artistic mosaics, wall coverings, arched windows with stained glass, flying buttresses, and marble floors. The Sophia Hagia has undergone many changes over the years and today features Ottoman elements such as minarets. The Sophia Hagia served as a church until the 15th century under Ottoman Empire rule but was converted into a museum from 1935 thru 2020 when it was designated the Sophia Hagia Grand Mosque.

    Topkapi Palace

    Topkapi Palace

    While visiting Istanbul, one of the most rewarding palaces turned museum to view is the Topkapi Palace. Located in the Fatih District within Seraglio Point overlooking the Marmara Sea and Bosphorus Strait, the Topkapi Palace was constructed by Mehmed the Conqueror beginning in 1459 C.E. Also called the New Palace, Topkapi Palace served as the center of administration and residence of the Sultan with a functioning treasury, mint, and library. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the palace was turned into a museum and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today the palace exhibits gorgeous grounds with beautiful gardens with fountains, four separate courts with exhibit halls that house spectacular art, tile work, artifacts, and wall friezes. You can stroll through the Harem with 300-plus rooms and visit the Imperial Treasury, which is filled with hundreds of artifacts made of gold, rubies, emeralds, jade, and other precious stones and metals.

    Bosphorus Strait Cruises

    Bosphorus Strait

    An exciting thing to do in Istanbul that features splendid views of the Bosphorus Bridge and Strait along with the mainland landscape is to try a Bosphorus Strait Cruise. The 1,568-meter Bosphorus Bridge opened in 1973 linking Europe and Asia and at the time of construction was the fourth largest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge is a centerpiece of every cruise excursion which range from half-day to full-day tours that offer exquisite views of the bridge, the strait, and the built environment along the shoreline. There are cruises that offer a variety of boats and yachts that sail between the two continents while including breakfast, lunch or dinner along with traditional entertainment like belly dancing. Other Bosphorus Strait cruises sail into the Black Sea offering stops in Asia and Europe for shopping, sightseeing opportunities, and incredible sunsets before heading back to port.

    Dinner Cruises

    Istanbul dinner cruieses

    When you want to combine traditional entertainment, delicious Turkish cuisine, incredible shoreline views with bright lights, and a leisurely boat ride, then a great thing to do in Istanbul is to try a dinner cruise. There are a variety of boat choices for you to book from catamarans to simple yachts to expensive luxury yachts that have you feeling like the Sultan. While cruising along Bosphorus Strait, you are given stunning views of special places like the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Dolmabahce Palace, Topkapi Palace, and the 1,568-meter Bosphorus Strait suspension bridge. Dining includes a three-course traditional Turkish meal or buffet and most offer unlimited libations to enjoy while viewing stunning places like the Hagia Sophia, Ortakoy, and Misir Carsisi. An added bonus on these dinner cruises is spectacular entertainment that includes Turkish folk music and gorgeous women belly dancing in colorful costumes adorned in brilliantly shining jewels.

    Dolmabahce Palace (Dolmabahce Sarayi)

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    For people who like stunning architecture, opulent interiors, and plenty of history, a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace is a perfect thing to do in Istanbul. Located in the Besiktas District along the European coastline of the Bosphorus Strait, the Dolmabahce Palace is the largest palace in Turkey covering some 14,500-square meters. The palace was constructed on the order of Sultan Abdulmecid I between 1843 and 1856 and was the last palace used by the Ottoman Empire sultans until the early 1920s. The palace features numerous architectural styles like Rococo, Neoclassical, and Baroque which are blended with traditional Ottoman features to give the palace a more European flare.. Inside the palace contains 285 rooms, 44 halls, six Turkish baths, and 68 toilets. As you stroll through you can view numerous exhibits containing gifts from foreign dignitaries, Western-style artwork, exquisite Hereke carpets, porcelains by Sevres and Yildiz and plenty of Baccarat crystals.

    Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)

    Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)

    When you want to experience the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s largest shopping bazaars, then a great thing to do in Istanbul for you is to visit the Grand Bazaar. Located in the walled area of Istanbul within the Fatih District, the Grand Bazaar runs from the Beyazit Mosque in the west to the Nuruosmaniye Mosque in the East. The Grand Bazaar was constructed under the rule of Mehmed the Conqueror in 1455 to help further economic progress in Istanbul. Commonly referred to as the largest and oldest bazaar in the world, the Grand Bazaar is an enclosed area of 30,700-square meters covering 61 streets and alleyways which contain more than 4,000 individual shops and vendors. Once inside you experience thousands of vendors selling intricate goods from unique textiles to leather shops to antiques to carpet outlets to fine jewelry and just about anything else you can imagine including delicious traditional Turkish food stands.

    Sultanahmet District

    Sultanahmet District

    When you want to see, feel, and experience the cultural experience of the former Ottoman Empire, then the best thing to do in Istanbul is to visit the exciting Sultanahmet District. Located in the larger Fatih District, the Sultanahmet District is packed with beautiful historic architecture, history, culinary delights, and lots of culture. While strolling through the historic district you can view places such as the rose-colored Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque with its six Minarets soaring into the sky, walk across the famous Galata Bridge, and stop at the opulent Topkapi Palace. While walking the streets, travelers will immerse themselves in culinary delights at the Spice Market with its aromatic and tasty spices from around the world or maybe taking in a fabulous Turkish coffee. If that’s not enough, take a stroll through the enormous Grand Bazaar or visit the cavernous Basilica Cistern before learning more at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

    Hippodrome (Sultanahmet Meydani)

    Hippodrome (Sultanahmet Meydani)

    A superb place for people that like to learn about the history of Istanbul from the Byzantine to Ottoman Empire eras is to take a visit to the Hippodrome also known as the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Located in the Fatih District, the Hippodrome resides within Sultanahmet Square. Originally constructed in the 4th Century by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, the Hippodrome's main purpose was for entertainment with chariot races, circuses, political gatherings, and other carnival-like events. Over the years the original Hippodrome was destroyed by invaders but surprisingly today, there are still numerous historical artifacts that remain within the area. Once at the square you can gaze upon the Serpent Column from the 5th Century, the 15th Century Obelisk of Thutmose III, the 10th Century Walled Obelisk, and the Kaiser Wilhelm Fountain which was gifted in 1901. The site was also the home to the execution of 30,000 people during the Nika Riots of the 6th Century.

    Egyptian Spice Bazaar (Misir Carsisi)

    Spice Bazaar (Misir Carsisi)

    For foodies and alike who want to experience a colorful but aromatic and tasty time, then taking a trip to the Spice Bazaar is an ideal thing to do in Istanbul. Located within the Fatih District near the New Mosque, the Spice Bazaar was opened in the 17th Century. Situated within two covered blocks that form a right-angle, the Spice Bazaar contains around 100 shops and vendors hawking delicious spices from around the world. Once there you can smell, taste, and buy almost any spice from saffron to numerous peppers to sumac to pomegranate sauce to black cumin to pul biber which is used for numerous Turkish food recipes. But don’t stop there because you will find plenty of delightful traditional Turkish cuisine to satisfy your stomach along with fresh fruit stands, a few curio vendors selling colorful scarves, hot teas, fresh pastries, and great Turkish coffees.

    Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi)

    Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi)

    For travelers that like historic architecture, history, and gorgeous views of the Old City on the peninsula, then a super thing to do in Istanbul is to make a visit to the Galata Tower. Located in the Beyoglu District, the Galata Tower was constructed by Genoans around 1348. The cone-capped and cylindrical tower skyrockets into the air almost 70-meters with nine stories and boasts incredible views of the surrounding neighborhoods including portions of the Great Horn. The interior decor ranges from Genoa to Ottoman styles with exterior features of brick-knit circular arches and arched windows. Over the years the tower was used as a watch tower for intruders, a fire observation tower, a prison, and today houses a museum with hundreds of artifacts. The tower was also instrumental in human flight when in 1632 Ahmed Hezarfen donned a pair of bird-like wings and jumped off the tower flying over the Bosphorus and eventually landing in Asia.

    Galata Bridge (Galata Köprüsü)

    galata Bridge (Galata Köprüsü)

    Sometimes a bridge is just not only a bridge but a point of interest for travelers and locals and when you take a tour to the Galata Bridge you will understand the folklore behind this great thing to do in Istanbul. Located in the Fatih District close to the Galata Tower, the bridge is a focal point of Turkish culture. First built 1845, the bridge has been reconstructed five times, the newest 490-meter long and 42-meter wide Galata Bridge was built in 1994. The bridge connects the Golden Horn Peninsula with the Beyoglu District and has helped bond Muslim and non-Muslim cultures over the years. The bridge is featured in much of Turkish literature, novels, theater, and poetry as a place of importance. Once there you will be thrilled with watching numerous people fishing from the ledges and the numerous boats passing through the Bosphorus Strait while others enjoy Turkish cuisine or a libation at one of the many restaurants.

    Turkish Bath (Hamam)

    Turkish Bath (Hamam)

    You can combine viewing historic architecture and an amazing Turkish bath known as a Hamam when you book the refreshing Turkish Bath Package in Istanbul at Aga Hamami Tour. Your rejuvenating 2-hour experience begins when you arrive at the Aga Hamami in the Beyoglu District. The building was first constructed by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1454 and was used as a private hamam after hunting trips in the area with his sons. Today you can enjoy the historical aspects of the building and area along with a scintillating Turkish bath to restore your body with vital energy on your journey. There are three packages which include a traditional hammam of body scrubbing and foam bath. The massage package includes a relaxing 20-minute oil massage along with a hammam, and third choice includes hammam, massage, and face mask. An added bonus is complimentary tea and the use of towels and slippers.

    Süleymaniye Mosque (Suleymaniye Camii)

    Süleymaniye Mosque (Suleymaniye Camii)

    One of the most important UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Istanbul for people to visit that combines incredible architecture, the history of Muslim culture, and the largest Imperial mosque in Istanbul is the Suleymaniye Mosque. Located on the Third Hill in Istanbul, the stunning piece of architecture was constructed on the order of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and completed around 1557 by architect Mimar Sinan. The Ottoman inspired exterior includes a large courtyard with columns of granite, porphyry, and marble and outlined by four minarets that stand 76-meters high. The main dome of the mosque was the highest dome of the Ottoman Empire at 53-meters at the time of completion. The facade of the mosque is the first to incorporate Iznik tiles that included a brilliant red clay. Once inside you are treated to flanking semi-domes, arch windows with stained glass, and the white marble mihrab is surrounded by gorgeous flowered-patterned Iznik tiles of red, black, and turquoise.

    Food Tours

    Food Tours in  Istanbul

    An ideal way to learn more about the diversity of Istanbul is to try one of the many different food tours which help you understand the cultural influences on the city. Food tours are a perfect thing to do in Istanbul and most of the time they mix great stories, history, and incredible sightseeing opportunities along with great Turkish cuisine. There is an excursion suitable for everyone from walking the streets to visiting restaurants to taking a dinner cruise to learning how to cook Turkish cuisine. On these Istanbul food tours you will try delicacies like stuffed breads or gozleme, flatbread pizzas called pides, flavorful salads or meze, stuffed grape leaves named doma, and of course a variety of sis kebabs of grilled lamb or beef. Tours offer a tasty selection of stews, soups, breads, manti (stuffed dumpling), kaftas (meatballs), and don’t forget to try the baklava and Turkish ice cream called dondurma.

    Taksim Square (Taksim Meydani)

    Taksim Square (Taksim Meydani)

    For individuals that want to experience the more modern aspects of Istanbul that mixes leisurely favorites like dining, shopping, and hotels with monuments and a cultural museum, then a perfect thing to do in Istanbul is stop at Taksim Square. Located in the Beyoglu District of European Istanbul, Taksim Square starts with the central station of the Istanbul Metro Network. The square is surrounded by the Ataturk Cultural Centre, Gezi Park, the Taksim Mosque, and the Republic Monument which was constructed in 1928 to celebrate the Turkish War of Independence. Once at the square you will find numerous restaurants for dining on Turkish cuisine and modern fast food along with an old school tram that will take you to the Tunel where you get a glimpse of the world’s secondest oldest subway. The square is also home to several high-end hotels and is a favorite place for people to celebrate events like New Years, parades, and social gatherings.

    Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi)

    Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi)

    The Basilica Cistern is an engineering marvel and viewing the cavernous interior is a must thing to do in Istanbul. Located in the Sultanahmet District a short distance from the Hagia Sophia, the cistern was constructed by Justinian I in the 6th Century. The cistern provided water for the Great Palace of Constantinople and continued to supply water to the Topkapi Palace after the Ottoman conquest. There are 52 stone stairs descending into the 9,800-square meter cistern that can hold 80,000-cubic meters of water. An interesting aspect of the cistern is the 336 9-meter high marble columns used to support the ceiling. The massive columns are laid out in 12 rows of 28 columns at 5-meters apart from one another. The carved columns contain capitals with Ionic and Corinthian styles along with a few Doric capitals. All of the marble columns are engraved except for Doric columns. Some of the engravings include the face of Medusa and the Triumphant Arch of Theodosius.

    Rumeli Fortress (Rumeli Hisari)

    Rumeli Fortress (Rumeli Hisari)

    Visiting one of the most intriguing fortresses in the world, the Rumeli Fortress, is an ideal thing to do in Istanbul for history buffs and people who like historic military architecture. Located in the Sanyer District along the banks of the Bosphorus Strait in Europe, the Rumeli Fortress was constructed in just four months under the order of Mehmed the Conqueror. The fortress designed by Muslihiddin Aga was instrumental in stopping the flow of supplies from the Byzantine Empire through the Bosphorus Strait. The 31,250-square meter layout consists of seventeen towers from large to small in height along with six gates and from the air the layout is shaped in the name of the Prophet Muhammad. Today the fortress, also known as the Strait Cutter, houses a museum with numerous interactive exhibits and the tranquil gardens display numerous cannon balls, cannons, and a piece of the original Chain that crossed the Golden Horn.

    Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi)

    Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi)

    An intriguing historical site that boasts brilliant architecture mixed with plenty of myths and legends is the Maiden’s Tower. Located on an islet in the southern entrance of the Bosphorus Strait off the shoreline of the Uskudar District, the first known structure built on the islet was in 341 B.C.E. by the Greeks. During the Roman Empire two towers were constructed between 1143 and 1178 C.E. which were destroyed by the Ottoman Empire and replaced by foundations with cannons. These foundations were used to build a new tower in the 16th Century and in 1833 the tower was restored with a gorgeous Baroque-style architecture and a new lighthouse was installed in 1857. Over the years many myths and legends became associated with the Maiden’s Tower. Today you can view a beautiful sunset while enjoying a bite to eat at the restaurant while listening to many of the myths.

    Beylerbeyi Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayi)

    Beylerbeyi Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayi)

    Stunning architecture, a beautiful view of the Bosphorus Strait and incredible history is what you will find when you visit the Beylerbeyi Palace. Located in the Uskudar District, the palace is situated along the Bosphorus Strait just north of the Bosphorus Bridge. Constructed in 1865 by Sultan Abdulaziz, the Beylerbeyi Palace is a great example of Neo-Baroque architecture from the Second Ottoman Empire and was primarily used as a summer home. Designed by architect Sarkis Balyan, the palace has a white marble facade complete with lions carved from white marble. The inside is gorgeous with 24-rooms, six large halls, a white marble swimming pool, and two hamams. The interior is adorned with Baccarat crystal chandeliers, Hereke carpets, lots of artwork that highlights a nautical theme, and some of the furniture was actually carved by Sultan Abdulhamit II while imprisoned there before his death in 1918. There are numerous fountains throughout the property both inside and outside in the garden areas.

    Whirling Dervishes at Hodjapasha

    Whirling Dervishes at Hodjapasha

    When you want to immerse yourself in Turkish traditions and culture, then a perfect thing to do in Istanbul is to book a ticket to go watch the Whirling Dervishes at Hodjapasha. Your cultural 1-hour journey begins when you arrive at Hodjapasha Cultural Center and take a quick stroll through the museum which outlines the cultural traditions of the Whirling Dervishes. Here you will learn why the special dance is listed as a cultural tradition as an UNESCO Intangible Heritage Humanity event. Once you take your seat you will be mystified by the sacred practices of the Sufis while they perform an authentic Mevlevi Sema Ceremony. Your eyes will enjoy the twirling dancers as they glide across the stage in traditional costumes as they sway to music provided by a full live orchestra. The choreography of the event is masterful with 360-degree video projections making this an excellent attraction in Istanbul to see.

    Belly Dance Show- Rhythm of the Dance Show at Hodjapasha

    Belly Dance Show- Rhythm of the Dance Show at Hodjapasha

    No one should visit Istanbul without watching a belly dance show and when you go to watch the Rhythm of the Dance Show at Hodjapasha, you will understand why this is one of the best things to do in Istanbul. Your 75-minute dancing performance starts when you enter the Hodjapasha Cultural Center and learn about the special dances and dancing techniques when you enter the foyer of the building. Once inside you will be amazed at the beautiful costumes worn during each dance performance which include folkloric dances from the Balkan, Caucasian, and Anatolia areas of the world. The choreography mixes modern techniques with exotic oriental dances that will blow your mind. Each dance is special with mixed groups and dances with solo female and male performers dressed in traditional costumes of each region. Everything with the show is pulled together with a live orchestra and 360-degree video projections to enlighten your senses.

    Troy Tours

    Troy Tours

    For travelers that feel the need to get away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul and want to learn more about the surrounding area of cultural sites, then an ideal thing to do is take one of the many tours to the famous city of Troy. Each tour is unique and crafted to bring the best out of this UNESCO World Heritage Site which was featured in Homer’s epic novel The Iliad which outlined the Trojan War. Once you enter the preserved site of more than 4,000 years old, you will view ruins and archaeological excavations explaining the culture, habits, and settlements of early dwellers in the area during the Bronze Age. The site is ideal for history buffs and people looking to learn more about the city of Troy. There are also exciting multi-day excursions that include stops at historically significant areas like Gallipoli, Ephesus, Ankara, and Troy.

    Ortaköy District

    Ortaköy District

    The Ortakoy District is packed with plenty of different things to do in Istanbul and brings the full flavor of life on the European side of the city. Located between the Besiktas and Kurucesme Districts, the Ortakoy District resides along the Bosphorus Strait and offers travelers a plethora of pleasure. The district is quite cosmopolitan with many different people from Turks to Greeks to Armenians to Jews living side by side. Tourists and younger people attending the Galatasaray University flock to the area to experience high-end nightclubs, restaurants, and lots of smaller art galleries along the streets. There is also the impressive 19th-Century Ortakoy Mosque which mixes Baroque and Neoclassical architecture and sits right along the Bosphorus Strait. One can also stroll into the Etz-Ahayim Synagogue situated near the Bosphorus Bridge, and the Aya Fokas, a Greek Orthodox church which reflects the intermingling of cultures on the European side of Istanbul.

    Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge

    Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge

    A true engineering marvel that has helped the economic growth of the city by connecting Europe and Asia is the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and seeing it is a great thing to do in Istanbul. Located five kilometers north of the First Bosphorus Bridge near the historic Rumeli Fortress, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, also known as the Second Bosphorus Bridge, connects the Rumeli District in Europe with the Anadolu district in Asia. Named after Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, construction on the toll-bridge was finished in 1988. At the time of completion, the bridge was the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world with a span of 1,090-meters and a width of almost 40-meters. The bridge was an important piece of the puzzle to help spur economic growth in Istanbul and between Europe and Asia. In the evening it is a wonderful sight to view from land or while cruising the Bosphorus Strait when illuminated.

    Golden Horn (Haliç)

    Golden Horn (Haliç)

    One of the most important historical places in the world, the Golden Horn, is also one of the must see things to do in Istanbul while you visit this incredible metropolis. Located where the Bosphorus Strait encounters the Marmara Sea, the Golden Horn has been instrumental throughout history and its sheltered harbor has helped protect numerous civilizations from the Greeks to the Ottoman. The peninsula is most famous for protecting Constantinople from intruders by using a huge chain which stretched along the mouth of the estuary from the city of Constantinople to the old Galata Tower. Over the years the huge chain was only broken or bypassed three times including by the Ottoman Empire in 1453 by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. Today, the Golden Horn is a major economic and tourist area where four bridges and a water ferry connect the peninsula of Old Istanbul with the more cosmopolitan Istanbul of today.

    Istiklal Street (Istiklal Caddesi)

    Istiklal Street (Istiklal Caddesi)

    One of the most colorful places in the city, Istiklal Street, is packed with culture, leisurely fun, and plenty of interesting things to do in Istanbul when you decide to take a stroll down this historic street. Located in the historic Beyoglu District in the European portion of the city, Istiklal Street is the main pedestrian street that runs for 1.5-kilometers stretching from Galata at Tunel Square to Taksim Square with Galatasaray Square marking the half-way point. The street is loaded with incredible architecture from the late Ottoman Empire that ranges from Neoclassical to Neogothic to Beaux Arts to First Turkish National to Art Nouveau to Renaissance Revival. As you gaze at the stunning buildings you can enjoy a plethora of other activities like dining, shopping, nightclubs, theaters, libraries, and Madame Tussauds. If you get tired of walking you can hop on the old fashioned tram that runs the length of the street.

    Küçüksu Palace (Küçüksu Kasri)

    Küçüksu Palace (Küçüksu Kasri)

    The grand architecture of the city is punctuated by the numerous palaces and mosques constructed over time and taking a tour of the Kucuksu Palace is an ideal thing to do in Istanbul. Located in the Beykoz District along the shoreline of Bosphorus Strait on the Asian side, the Kucuksu Palace was used as a summer retreat for sultans while they were hunting. The palace was commissioned by Sultan Abdulmejid in 1857 and designed by the father-son duo of Garabet Amira Balyan and Nigogayos Balyan. The two-story palace features a Neo-baroque style architecture but instead of walls surrounding the garden there is an ornate cast iron railing. Inside there is a traditional Turkish layout with a large hall with surrounding rooms that have fireplaces carved of Italian marble, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, and Hereke rugs. The palace turned museum in 1944 was featured in the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough and the popular Bollywood movie Ek Tha Tiger.

    Pierre Loti Hill (Pierre Loti Tepesi)

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    For travelers looking to combine a great view of the Golden Horn along with a leisurely time that includes dining or drinking Turkish coffee, then a super thing to do in Istanbul is to visit Pierre Loti Hill. Located in the Eyup Sultan District with views of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Strait, the Pierre Loti Hill was named after the famous French author Pierre Loti, also known as Julien Viaud who used the area to write his outstanding novel Aziyade.Once you’re in the area you need to take a cable car to the top where you will be rewarded with splendid views of the Golden Horn, the Seven Hills, and the Bosphorus Strait. You can stroll the hill viewing the Eyup Mosque and ancient Ottoman cemetery as well as stopping to enjoy a coffee or bite to eat at the cafe bearing his name.

    Balat

    Balat

    No trip is complete to Istanbul without taking a stroll through one of the most photographed areas of the city which makes visiting Balat the perfect thing to do in Istanbul. Located in the Fatih District, the neighborhood was originally a Jewish enclave but today sports a hipster attitude where people flock to take photographs of the brightly colored homes located along Kiremit Street where you will gaze at historical two and three-story homes ranging from 50 to 200 years. Within the neighborhood you find some unique Istanbul attractions like the Neo-Byzantine styled St. Stephen Church, Phanar Greek Orthodox College or Red School with its castle-like appearance, the Chora Church and Museum with a Byzantine style, the Maria of Mongolians Church known as the Bloody Church, and the Yanbol Synagogue. Don’t worry, there are plenty of interesting cafes, pubs, and shops to help keep you occupied while you stroll this stunning area.

    Cicek Pasaji (Flower Passage)

    Cicek Pasaji (Flower Passage)

    One of the more unique things to do in Istanbul is to visit a place that features stunning architecture, plenty of entertainment, and numerous boutiques is the Cicek Pasaji. Located along Istiklal Street in the Beyoglu District, the Cicek Pasaji, also known as the Flower Passage, is situated in an alleyway or passage connected to Istiklal Street as a thoroughfare to Balik Pazan, the fish market. Once the home of the beautiful Naum Theater in the 19th Century the space was redesigned in the early 20th Century with a Neoclassical design which housed apartments at the top, numerous small shops on the ground level and was once the most glamorous place in the Beyoglu District. Over the years several Russian women opened flower shops, hence giving the location its current name, along with taverns, and winehouses. In 1998 there was a glass canopy erected overhead and today the passage is a lively spot filled with live music, numerous dining options, boutiques, and of course flower shops.