Top things to do in Istanbul

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About Istanbul

Including tips for the best time to visit Istanbul

Istanbul is a timeless crossroads of cultures, religions, and civilizations, the meeting point of Europe and Western Asia.

Greek, Persian, Byzantine, and Ottoman influences are all over the city to this day. The breathtaking Hagia Sophia stood as an ornate church for over 1,000 years before being converted into an Imperial Mosque, which it remained for another 500 years. There's also Topkapi Palace, an extravagant complex of courtyards, halls, and terraces with beautiful views over the Bosphorus Strait. Today, both structures are religious museums that draw in millions of visitors every year.

The Blue Mosque is another striking example of Byzantine-Ottoman blended architecture, with its domes, towering minarets, and blue İznik tiles covering the interior. For a full view of the mosque’s design, enter through the crumbling remains of a Roman-era hippodrome in Sultanahmet Square.

However, Istanbul’s oldest landmarks can easily be overlooked. Several hundred ancient cisterns lie deep beneath the ground where water was delivered from a local reservoir through 12 miles of aqueducts. The largest of these is the Basilica Cistern, which you can explore along raised wooden platforms.

Back on ground level, the Grand Bazaar will blow you away with its maze-like network of artisanal shops and cozy teahouses. Work up an appetitie while exploring, before grabbing a Dürüm wrap on a street corner, or some delicious meze in a bistro-style restaurant in Sultanahmet.


From $9 per night

This weekend

From $16 per night

Next weekend

From $16 per night

Most popular time to visit September-November
Cheapest time to visit May-July
Local currency € 1 = $1.22
Language Turkish
Average weekend price $76 per night
Average weekday price $76 per night
Average stay 2 nights

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Istanbul reviews

What other travelers say about Istanbul


One of the best cosmopolitan and friendly cities I have...

April 23, 2021

One of the best cosmopolitan and friendly cities I have visited. My visit to Istanbul was 2 weeks. Not expensive for quality shopping, dining and adventures around the city. I have taken my time and been to almost every palace, mosque and historic landmark in the city along with experiences like Sea Life Aquarium, Madame Tussauds and different dining.

M Ahsen
M Ahsen United Kingdom

Truly the gateway to Asia, Istanbul has a unique vibe that...

April 13, 2021

Truly the gateway to Asia, Istanbul has a unique vibe that we loved. So much to see, incredible food at really low prices. Shopping was A+ as well. We walked about 5 miles each day and could have spent much more time in this beautiful cultural city.

kristen Switzerland

Some glitches with Istanbul card, registration failures.

March 28, 2021

Some glitches with Istanbul card, registration failures. Very strange city, old and futuristic simultaneously. Very safe, lot of police, no drunk people. Local people very kind and helpful. Great city commuting, trams, metro, funicular. Lot of cats, locals are very kind to them. For a plce to eat, restaurant Baran 2, Divanyolu cad., 54 (Sultanahmet).

Mykhailo Ukraine

It’s not bad as a sort of experience, the in-cruise...

April 9, 2018

It’s not bad as a sort of experience, the in-cruise activities will divert your attention and will not be able to see around while the boat is moving, the food it was said unlimited but they only served once and the whole trip is over.

Scarlet5411 Saudi Arabia

Istanbul is an excellent city to visit, especially for...

January 26, 2018

Istanbul is an excellent city to visit, especially for tourism. My stay here has been for both tourism and work so I have stayed for quite a while and have got to know it well and enjoyed my time here. The main area to visit is Sultanahmet of course and all of its many wonders; the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace and the beautiful Gulhane park. Then there is Taksim and Eyup. Price-wise the weak Turkish Lira makes Istanbul an affordable place to stay and visit. Transport is cheap, food is cheap and if you go to the right places everything is cheap! If you get a chance I would recommend visits to Eminonu and the Misir market and the underground market under the Eminonu tram line there. Also Hamdi restaurant in Eminonu is very good, if you get a chance to have dinner here you will enjoy it. Aqua Florya mall which is close to the airport and on the coast meaning the airplanes fly very low over it and give it a certain flavour and it also has a funfair next to it and a long patio stretching across the coast (if you can afford it, book a room in the nearby Crowne Plaza and get yourself a private massage, excellent hotel), and also the aquarium here. Water Gardens mall in the Asia side of Istanbul which has an amazing dancing fountain in the middle that puts on shows every 30-60 minutes. In some areas outside the tourism hotspots people can be very rude and off putting. Be careful you don't get ripped off and feel free to compare prices and tell shop keepers you will think about it and come back later.

HotelHero United Kingdom

The Hotel is just a step away from the underground station...

December 25, 2016

The Hotel is just a step away from the underground station "osmanbey" away, which is according to the traffic situation in Istanbul very important for the transportation. Not important issue is that the hotel is at "Nisantasi", One of the most popular areas Istanbul. Many different types of restaurants and beautiful locations to visit in that area. The hotel room was perfect itself very well designs in the most Porten thing is it's it's very clean. Another issue is the stuff of very helpful friendly and polite. Special Thanks to Kubilay and Burcu at the frontdesk. I recommend that hotel to everyone who plans to visit Istanbul.

Melih B.
Melih B. Turkey

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