Top 10 things to do in Istanbul to make your trip memorable
There are lots of things you can do in Istanbul whether you’re traveling alone or with your loved ones. Many people look forward to wonderful experiences especially the exciting nightlife, concerts and live performances. Tourists are never disappointed in the area of entertainment regardless of their interest.
The city offers a blend of Asian and European culture. In fact, it’s the intersection of the traditional Byzantium era and the modern age. Are you looking for things to do in Istanbul? Consider these suggestions and have an exciting adventure.
1. Galata Tower
Head to the Galata Tower if you want a bird’s-eye view of Istanbul. The 60-meter high tower has 9 stories with a nightclub and restaurant cafe. An elevator is available for transporting people. It was erected in the 14th century and was a watchtower until 1960. The Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace will be visible once you reach the top of the tower. You can eat decent meals at any of the terraces in the streets of Galata.
2. Grand Bazaar
Make sure that you improve your bargaining skills before entering the Grand Bazaar. The bazaar isn’t meant for tourists alone as locals visit it too. It’s among the biggest bazaars worldwide and has over 60 streets and 5000 shops. Ceramics, carpets, jewelry, leather, shoes and Turkish lamps are available at the Grand Bazaar. Tourists often spend several days to explore the entire bazaar.
3. Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It should top your Istanbul to-do list once you reach the city because of its beauty. The name of the Mosque is derived from the blue tiles that are near the interior walls. Tourists are expected to follow every rule before they are allowed inside the Mosque. Women must cover their hair and wear clothes that cover their shoulders and legs.
4. Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia was initially a church before becoming a mosque. However, it’s currently a museum and remains one of the biggest architectural feats in history. It’s among the structures in the world with a stunning interior and exterior. Tourists from different parts of the world visit Hagia Sophia to see tiles, calligraphy, and mosaics.
5. Bascilla Cistern
The Bascilla Cistern is an underground cistern with a breathtaking view. It was used to transport water from the present day Bulgaria to Istanbul. One of the outstanding features of the Bascilla Cistern is an upside down Medusa head which served as the base of a column in the past. You can only see it if you walk towards the end of the cistern.
6. Archaeology Museum
Some tourists rarely know that the Archaeology Museum contains classical antiquities until months or years later. It comprises of three major museums namely the Archaeology Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Museum of Islamic Art. Stop at this museum as soon as you reach Istanbul to view the Tiled Pavilion, the Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great and the Treaty of Kadesh. It’s very close to Topkapi Palace. There is something for young children too. For instance, the famous Trojan Horse model.
7. Dine with the locals
Turkey’s cuisine is a combination of flavors from various continents. Almost all the dishes in Istanbul are prepared with fresh produce from the local markets. Mouth watering kebabs, mezze, pita bread are in abundance. You can even cook and eat tasty meals if your hotel has a kitchen.
It’s common for tourists to book dining experiences with a local family. This is one of the ways to be exposed to Turkish culture and history. There is nothing to worry about as the locals are friendly. Learning basic Turkish phrases will help you to make friends quickly.
Most tourists can attest to the fact that Turkish coffee is different from coffee of other parts of the world. The uniqueness isn’t surprising due to the fact that coffee originated from the country. A lot of effort usually goes into the preparation process so that it will have a delicious taste.
8. Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Place is another tourist attraction in Istanbul. It was the home of the Ottoman Sultans several years ago. It has four courtyards with pavilions and kiosks. Each tourist is expected to pay a token to tour the Harem where they can find historical artifacts like the weapon’s room and the popular Topkapi dagger.
9. Suleymaniye Mosque
The Suleymaniye Mosque isn’t usually overcrowded by tourists, unlike the Blue Mosque. It’s the second biggest building in Istanbul. It has a welcoming atmosphere with other structures like a school, kitchen, and hospital. The Mosque is a tribute to Suleiman the Magnificent and the renowned architect, Mimar Sinan. It was designed by the latter.
10. Turkish Hammams
Your trip to Istanbul is incomplete without having a bath in a hammam. It’s an effective way to relax and reduce stress. Some of the things to expect include body scrubs, steam baths, and bubble massage. Although the procedure can be painful, it will leave your skin soft and smooth. There are different sections for men and women. Istanbul has many traditional hammams like the Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami and the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami.
11. Dolmabahce Palace
This palace is around 600 meters long with 43 salons, 285 rooms and a ceremonial hall that has a whopping 4.5-ton chandelier. It was built by Sultan Abdul Mecit. According to history, crystal, marble and gold leaf are some of the materials used for building the palace. Ataturk lived there until his death on November 10, 1938, at 9:05 am. All the clocks in the Dolmabahce Palace are still displaying the exact time he died as a tribute.
12. Bebek and Ortakoy
Few tourists know Bebek and Ortakoy. They are two villages near the Bosphorus. Each one has distinctive features that you shouldn’t miss. Most locals visit Bebek nearly every weekend to relax and enjoy the vibrant nightlife. Ortakay is famous for its cafes, restaurants and Sunday craft market.