Top reasons to visit:

  • Shopping (12299)
  • History (11030)
  • Food (9542)
  • Culture (8118)
  • Sightseeing (7930)
  • Monuments (7142)
  • Museums (5396)
  • Friendly People (2747)
  • Architecture (2715)
  • Old Town (2534)

Istanbul was highly rated for history by 699 guests from the United States!

Looking for fun and unique tips from travelers who know Istanbul?

How can you enjoy the sights in Istanbul while avoiding the crowds?

AlexanderMP
AlexanderMP, Moldova

28 days ago Report

Get up early. Most museums open at 9 AM. Crowds are already gathering before opening. If you go later than 10 AM to Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sofia, Basilica Cistern - you're gonna have a bad time. Queues are hundreds of meters long, going slow. The rest of the monuments have reasonable queues, and can be visited later in the day.
Don't go to Taksim Square, or on the road that leads from Taksim to Galata Tower if you don't like large crowds. There are millions of people on that main street.
Might help getting a museum pass. At the time of our visit, it would've made up for its cost, and we wouldn't have to wait in long queues because we'd get an express pass.

What is it in Istanbul that makes history come to life?

Dan
Dan, United States of America

12 days ago Report

Istanbul is a bustling city with a dramatic backdrop of mosques and muslim culture. Turkish people are very proud to be part of such a great nation, but they are also very humble and welcoming to guests. I loved my time there.

Why do you recommend Istanbul for food?

Haneen
Haneen, United Arab Emirates

6 days ago Report

Turkish dishes, sweets and turkish cuisine is really delicious and intresting, traditional turkish dishes are really amazing, Turkish delights has like 100 different flavours, turkish coffee you should definitely try. Turkish baklawa also its really one of a kind and really delicious.

Describe what other people like you would like about shopping in Istanbul.

zincsilla
zincsilla, Netherlands

10 days ago Report

Grand Bazaar! Amazing experience that no one should miss. It's not really about the products there but the atmosphere.

There are 64 streets in the bazaar but I think only 10 types of stores, many of each of them. The sellers will try to reach to you by trying to guess where you are from and as you start communicating with them you'll experience their enthusiasm about their products and their love for the customers. Their goal is to sell you everything and they do it really well, I enjoyed it a lot!

If the Grand Bazaar is too big for you then try the Spice Bazaar at the New Mosque, much smaller but similar atmosphere.

Is there more to shopping in Istanbul than just brand-name stores?

Kristyna
Kristyna, United Kingdom

27 days ago Report

Amazing cheap high quality Turkish brands.
My favourite: Desa, Derimod - for leather goods, Gizia - for fashion, Magic form - lingerie, Koton, Mudo, Collins - cheap clothes

How can you get the most authentic cultural experience in Istanbul?

Austin
Austin, United States of America

11 days ago Report

To get the best experience is to walk a lot ,use the public transportation ,such as the metro lines and Ferries .There are also many guided tours.

What makes the people from Istanbul so friendly? Tell us your story.

Subodh
Subodh, India

1 day ago Report

The atmosphere. You can find most of these things in other places but not in market places with such heady atmosphere as in Istanbul. It is an experience to spend time in Grand Bazaar even if you buy nothing. Shopping areas in India, my country, are equally interesting but they tend to be dirty and full of traps like potholes and overflowing drains. Istanbul has the atmosphere without these problems. The place we liked most was Arasta Bazaar near the Blue Mosque.

Describe the best ancient landmarks to visit in Istanbul.

Jacqueline
Jacqueline, Australia

8 days ago Report

Each attraction has its own history and should you take the time to reflect on how these sites have been used you begin to understand the significance of Istanbul as a political and commercial centre both in the past and the future.

Why are the monuments in Istanbul noteworthy?

zincsilla
zincsilla, Netherlands

10 days ago Report

The Blue Mosque is one of the most important monuments and is visited by many people. It is closed 5 times a day for prayer which makes it difficult to visit, it's always full of tourists and the line is extremely long. We couldn't get in in the morning but revisited it at 17:30 when it reopened for the last time that day and THERE WAS NO LINE! Wow! I'm not sure if we were lucky or it happens every day.

The Hagia Sofia, the Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern and the Galata Tower are a must see. If you have more time then spend some time discover the Dolmabahce Palace as well.
  • Convenient Public Transportation 636 endorsements
  • 23 answers

Was it cheap, fast, or easy to use? What made it so simple to get around in Istanbul?

AlexanderMP
AlexanderMP, Moldova

28 days ago Report

Good public transportation infrastructure. Plenty of maps everywhere. People are helpful. Get an Istanbulkart (card) as soon as you can. You can buy them at kiosks that sell cigarettes and snacks everywhere. It costs 7 Lira, and you can fill it with any amount of money you want. Normally it costs 3 lira to get on public transportation (with a coin/jeton). With the card, it costs 1.95 lira to get on, and 1.5 lira to transfer.
You can also use public transportation (with the same tariffs) to get on a boat across the Bosphorus. Take the tram to Eminonu station (Spice Bazaar), and from there, you can take one of 2 boat routes at 2 terminals. We took the one to Kadikoy in Asia (There is a nice market in Kadikoy, with lots of cafes and everything). From there, you may also find a route to Adalar (Prince's Islands), but we didn't check. Make your own boat tour. Explore. Ask the locals, they are VERY helpful.

Why is the atmosphere in Istanbul something people rave about?

Darrell
Darrell, United Kingdom

2 days ago Report

The area from Taksim square along istiklal caddesi in particular comes to life at night - the energy and pulse of a vibrant city in the air - it's great!
  • Culturally Diverse Food 1925 endorsements
  • 20 answers

What's the secret to sampling all the diverse food Istanbul has to offer?

Glenys
Glenys, Australia

11 days ago Report

Eat in small local cafes & restaurants and stay away from the obvious tourist restaurants etc.

What aspect of the culture in Istanbul was so different than back home?

Anonymous, Unknown location

27 days ago Report

The multicultural site of the city. Istanbul is East and West. Its culture is made by many nationalities lived there.. Othoman, Syrians, Greeks, Armenians, etc.. You can find people from Far east and at the same time from Europe...

What did you discover about the museums in Istanbul that wasn't in the guidebooks?

Roger
Roger, United Kingdom

24 days ago Report

Get an Istanbul card which you can then load at machines at all transport stations. This allows you to travel very cheaply on trams, ferries, metro bus etc regardless of the distance. We kept ours from a previous trip and just loaded it at the airport. Easy and very cheap way to travel in from Ataturk airport.

What makes Istanbul one of those classic city-trip experiences?

Bratu
Bratu, Romania

16 days ago Report

Traditions, historical sites to visit, food experience, shopping experience as you have to negotiate the final price, cultural experiences. To feel the city is better to visit it in less crowded months.

What's the best way to make the most of Istanbul by foot?

Christopher
Christopher, United States of America

26 days ago Report

Highly recommend exploring the different neighborhoods by foot. We walked down to the ferries from our hotel and then hopped on a ferry over to another part of Istanbul (Üsküdar), Then walked around there, had lunch and then took another ferry to a different location (Käbatas). After exploring around there, we took a taxi to Ïstiklal street. We meandered down to Taksïm Square for people watching and then walked all the way to Galata Tower. We finished by walking across the Galata bridge and back through the Sultanahmet area back to our hotel, after stopping at a rooftop restaurant for dinner first.

Where should people go if they don't want to eat in a tourist trap?

Marcin
Marcin, Switzerland

14 days ago Report

Go to Kurabiye street close to Taksim square. You will find small restaurants serving lovely food with fresh fish, salads and meat for 1/2 of the price that you would pay downtown...

What should you avoid to make the most of the nightlife in Istanbul?

zincsilla
zincsilla, Netherlands

10 days ago Report

Why is this question so negative? :) The nightlife is amazing in Istanbul. We stayed at Beyoglu district, close to Taksim square and that area is full of bars, restaurants, clubs and a lot of people.

You can find hookah places, some of them serve alcohol as well, most of them only tea and coffee. Make sure to try the raki and some local wines. Many places have rooftop terrace, in a nice warm weather they're easy to enjoy all night.

This time we didn't have time for clubbing but we definitely want to try some at our next visit to Istanbul.

What effect did the scenery in Istanbul have on you?

Edward
Edward, United Kingdom

28 days ago Report

I just love being there. The situation on the Bosporus and the Golden Horn is unique, and human beings over the centuries have made it more so. You really feel you are in the presence of history - past, present and future.

Why do people say Istanbul can be seen best by foot?

Sonia
Sonia, South Africa

26 days ago Report

Walking through the streets you get to experience more of the culture, meet interesting people and smell, feel, live Istanbul. Public transport are safe, cheap & easy to access. I also travelled on my own to Ephesus, Phamukkale & Cappadocia. An affordable, most enjoyable trip was put together by Independant Travels.

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