Places You Must Not Miss Out On While Exploring Istanbul
Having a rich historic and cultural background while still having a surprisingly modern feel to it, Istanbul is a metamorphosis of the Asian and European culture in every sense. From mosques, churches, basilicas to cathedrals, bazaars, local delis and their regular way of being, this blend of culture that Turkey brings by a fusion of East and West is clearly seen in every aspect of its existence. With a plethora of places to visit in Istanbul, it is extremely challenging to narrow the list down to a certain number of activities and best places to visit in Istanbul, especially if you are a history buff. However, after putting a lot of thought to it, we have drawn out a list for you that will make your trip to Istanbul a truly memorable one.
The Blue Mosque
Situated in the heart of Istanbul, the stunning Blue Mosque was built in the year 1616 by Sultan Ahmet and is a complete architectural marvel. It derives its name from the thousands of intricately designed blue tiles that decorate the mosque. Also known as Sultan Ahmet Mosque, it is actively visited to offer prayers five times a day and thus the best time to visit is mid-morning and afternoon.
This beautiful street, which is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul, is a complete pedestrian passage. Covered with thousands of tourists and locals every day, it can easily be added to the list of places to visit in Istanbul. The street is filled with galleries, theatres, bars and 19th century buildings, giving it a very old school vibe with a dash of modernism.
The Topkapi Palace was once home to the Sultans of Ottoman and his family and served as their family home for over 600 years. The palace is now open to the public to explore the magnificent culture, jaw dropping architecture, exquisite paintings and carvings on the ceilings and walls making it one of the top tourist places to visit in Istanbul. One can easily spend over half a day at the palace just admiring the beauty and experiencing all that the place has to offer
Hagia Sophia Mosque
The Aya Sofia mosque which was previously known as a Hagia Sophia mosque was a church that was subsequently converted into a mosque when the land was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. It is no more an active place of worship but is rather converted into a museum with beautiful mosaics and intricate detailing that will blow your mind away and is a must visit place in Istanbul.
Galata Towers, One of the Best Places to Visit in Istanbul
Replacing the original tower that was destroyed during the fall of Constantinople, this medieval tower was refurbished in 1348. One can take an elevator to the top to get a panoramic view of the Bosphorus making it the perfect spot to take some fun pictures. There is also a restaurant and night club at the top of the tower for people to enjoy. This tower can be quite crowded and thus it is advisable to reach the spot as early in the morning as possible.
The Dolmabahçe Palace is set over 11 acres of land and is the largest palace in all of Turkey. With sharp European influences, the palace has 285 distinct rooms, 46 halls and huge lawns up front making it a complete enchantress. It was originally commissioned by the 31st Sultan who wanted a rather modern home than the Topkapi Palace. The palace is also home to the world’s largest Bohemian Crystal Chandelier which was gifted to the Sultan by Queen Victoria as a token of appreciation.
If you are in the mood to experience something unique, head over to the 1500-year-old Basilica Cistern which is situated far away from the hustle and bustle of the city of Istanbul. This cistern is dramatically large, adorned with dim lighting and has sounds of water in the background making it a fully unique and calming experience.
Walls of Constantinople
These walls were built in the fifth century by Constantine the Great to protect the city of Istanbul from any attack by land or sea. As the growth of the city started outgrowing the walls, parts of it were torn down to facilitate the growing needs. These walls can be viewed near the Chora Church passing and coming towards the old town. The torn down walls are now being restored to get them to its original form.
Sailing the Bosphorus
The Bosphrous is a beautiful 32-kilometer stretch that connects the Sea of Marmara and Black Sea which also cuts the European Side and Asian Side into two halves. Sailing through the seas at night will give you a gorgeous view of the historic buildings and the city as a whole.
Egyptian Spice Market
If you want to get a real taste of Turkish Culture, food and local life, the Egyptian Spice market is surely not something you’d want to miss. The market carried a relaxed and fun atmosphere and the vendors are open to oodles of haggling. Go pick out some of the Egyptian spices to replicate some of the delicious recipes Turkey has to offer once you’re back home.
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and biggest markets in the entire world with over 3000 vendors accumulating every single day to go about their regular selling. Rest assured to find anything and everything you want, or you need to shop in Istanbul under the roof at this market. From clothing, textiles, carpets, lamps, Jewelry, spice mixes, antiques, this bazaar is one of the best shopping places in Istanbul and not just your regular street market.
Carpet Museum, Amongst Best Places to Visit in Istanbul
Whether you are an art geek or not, the carpet museum is sure to surprise you in more ways than one. Visit this museum to get a glimpse of the heritage of carpets, understand the nitty gritties of the culture and different materials it uses before you buy your own.
Istanbul will tug at your heart strings in many ways and is going to be worth every day you decide to spend here. Head over to the Thomas Cook website to book a trip with your friends and family today!