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Things to do in Istanbul

Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, serving as the country’s economic, cultural, and historical hub.

The city straddles the Bosporus Strait in Europe and Asia and has a population of over 15 million residents, comprising 19% of the population of Turkey.

Istanbul is the most populous European city and the world’s 15th-largest city. Istanbul was chosen as the 2010 European Capital of Culture.

The city has surpassed London and Dubai to become the most visited city in the world, with more than 20 million foreign visitors in 2023.

Discover the top tourist attractions in this historic city with our list of the things to do in Istanbul.

Popular Attractions in Istanbul

Bosphorus Dinner Cruise

Bosphorus-Dinner-Cruise-1

Bosphorus Dinner Cruise offers a mesmerizing experience as you dine on delectable cuisine while cruising.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is a unique example of Byzantine architecture and a symbol of the region’s rich history. 

Turkish Dance Show

Turkish Dance Show

The Turkish dances include the Whirling Dervishes, Rakkas, Oriental Dans, the Halay and Zeybek folk dances, and more.

Harem Museum Istanbul

Harem at the Topkapi palace in Istanbul, Turkey

Harem Museum Istanbul showcases the intricate splendor of Ottoman imperial life through its rich collection of artifacts and preserved chambers.

Whirling Dervishes Show

Konya Mevlana mosque and whirling dervish show

The Whirling Dervishes was performed as part of a religious ceremony, the Semah. But, in the last few decades, the art form is performed in cafes and restaurants in Turkey.

Belly dancing in Istanbul

Belly dancing in Istanbul

Belly dancing in Istanbul captivates audiences with its mesmerizing rhythms, graceful movements, and vibrant costumes, showcasing the rich cultural tapestry of the city.

Cappadocia Cave Restaurant

Famous cave hotels in Goreme, Capadokkia

The atmosphere of a Cappadocia cave restaurant creates the ideal setting for a wonderful evening full of cuisine, laughter, and lifelong memories.

Turkish Mosaic Lamp Workshop

Turkish Mosaic Lamp Workshop

Turkish Mosaic Lamps, renowned for their intricate designs and vibrant colors, illuminate spaces with an enchanting blend of cultural heritage and artistic elegance.

Turkish Bath at Cemberlitas Hamam

Woman Therapist Pouring Water during Ritual Turkish Bath

Turkish Bath at Cemberlitas Hamam offers visitors a refreshing experience steeped in centuries-old tradition, with its exquisite architecture and therapeutic steam rooms.

Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe palace river view

Dolmabahçe Palace, an Ottoman symbol of grandeur, dominates the Bosphorus shoreline with its lavish architecture and interiors.

Bursa tour

Cable Car way to snowy uludag mountains in bursa turkey

Bursa tour offers a captivating journey through history, culture, and natural beauty, immersing visitors in the rich heritage.

Gallipoli Tour

Gallipoli Tour

Gallipoli Tour offers a poignant journey through the historic battlegrounds, providing insight into the courage and sacrifices of soldiers during World War I.

Cappadocia tour

Cappadocia Balloon Tour

The Cappadocia tour offers a mesmerizing journey through Turkey’s rich history, landscapes, and iconic chimneys, an unforgettable adventure.

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern, an ancient underground water reservoir in Istanbul, mesmerizes visitors with its impressive columns and mysterious atmosphere.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque and Bosphorus in Turkey

The Blue Mosque is a historical imperial mosque built during the Ottoman era. Blue Mosque is an iconic landmark with its stunning architecture and intricate blue tiles.

Ephesus tours

Ephesus, Istanbul

Ephesus tours offer an immersive journey through ancient ruins and historical landmarks, captivating visitors with the rich tapestry of Anatolian history and culture.

Tour of Troy

The Trojan Horse at the Ancient City of Troy in Turkey

Tour of Troy from Istanbul offers an immersive journey through the ancient ruins and mythical tales of the legendary city.

Istanbul Aquarium

Interior of Istanbul Aquarium, Turkey

Istanbul Aquarium, located in the heart of the city, boasts an impressive array of marine life, captivating visitors with its immersive exhibits and educational programs.

Sapphire Observation Deck

Sapphire Observation Deck

Sapphire Observation Deck offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city skyline, making it a must-visit attraction for tourists and locals alike.

Topkapi Palace

Inside Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace, nestled in the heart of Istanbul, stands as a majestic testament to the opulence and grandeur of the Ottoman Empire.

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds Istanbul

Madame Tussauds, renowned for its lifelike wax figures, is a globally acclaimed attraction that immerses visitors in an interactive journey through history and pop culture.

Princes Islands tour

Princes Island Tour Istanbul

Istanbul’s Princes Islands Tour is a unique opportunity to escape the city’s busy life and experience the calmness of a quiet archipelago. 

Land of Legends

Land of Legends Turkey

The Land of Legends includes a massive water park, a shopping avenue complete with a nighttime show, an on-location hotel, and a host of rides.

Museum of Illusions

Museum of Illusions Istanbul

The Museum of Illusions beckons curious minds to journey through a labyrinth of mind-bending exhibits and optical marvels.

Vialand Theme Park

Vialand Theme Park

Vialand Theme Park is not only a theme park but also a massive complex combining shopping, entertainment, and exhibition centers.

FY Zoo

FY Zoo

Faruk Yalcin Zoo and Botanical Park, located in the heart of Darica in Istanbul, is home to over 1700 animals of 160 wide varieties of species.

Camlica Tower

Camlica TV Radio Tower

The Çamlıca Tower is a telecommunications tower located on Little Çamlıca Hill in the Üsküdar district of Istanbul.

Camlica Mosque

Camlica Mosque

The Grand Çamlıca Mosque is the largest in Turkey and is extremely impressive, not only in its scale but also in its sheer brilliance.

Galata Tower

Aerial View of Galata Tower in Istanbul

Galata Tower, an iconic landmark in Istanbul, offers panoramic views of the cityscape and the Bosphorus Strait from its towering height.

Ziplines

Ziplines in Istanbul

Zipline is an exhilarating adventure sport that entails sliding along a rope while wearing a harness to go from one place to another.

Forest Kemerburgaz

Forest Kemerburgaz

Forest Kemerburgaz, located in Istanbul, is a significant green space that provides fresh air amidst the bustling city life.

Archaeological Museums

Archaeological Museums

The Archaeological Museums Istanbul are a group of three major museums: The Museum of the Ancient Orient, The Archaeology Museum, and The Tiled Kiosk Museum.

This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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