Things to Do in Istanbul Turkey

If you’re planning a trip to Istanbul Turkey, there are plenty of things to do. Whether you want to experience the city’s history, relax in a scenic park, or explore the bustling bazaars, there is something for everyone!

One of the best ways to see Istanbul is on a tour. These tours are inexpensive and take the hassle out of navigating the city’s attractions alone.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is one of the most iconic and important buildings in Istanbul Turkey. First dedicated as a church, it was transformed into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest and is now a museum.

Located in Sultanahmet (the Old City district) and built in the sixth century, Hagia Sophia is one of the most famous religious buildings in the world. Its dome is an architectural wonder, and it’s worth visiting to see its impressive interior and the beautiful mosaics that were uncovered when it was turned into a museum.

The interior of the church is lined with marble pillars and decorated with intricate mosaics. These include mosaics of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, angels, saints and other holy figures. The marble pillars are all carved with geometric patterns and come from different regions around the world, including Aspendus Ephessus in Greece, Baalbeek and Tarsa in North Africa and Egriboz Island in Asia.

After the Ottomans conquered Istanbul, Hagia Sophia became a mosque and was used by the Muslims for prayer, as well as for burial ceremonies. It is a unique monument to the integration of Islam and Christianity in Istanbul.

Today, Hagia Sophia is still a sacred place for both Christians and Muslims. Both religions respect the building’s history and architecture, and it welcomes visitors of all faiths and denominations.

Its history is fascinating, from its beginning as a Christian church to its conversion into a mosque and then back to its original status as a Christian church. The restorations that took place in the 19th century aimed at safeguarding both its Islamic and Christian heritage.

Many of the early Christian mosaics in the exonarthex (outer vestibule) and narthex were covered up during the mosque’s years as a working church, but reconstruction work began in 1931 led to revealing much of it. These include the 9th-century Christ Pantocrator over the imperial doorway and mosaics of Christ Enthroned flanked by Empress Zoe and Emperor Constantine in the upper gallery.

When you visit Hagia Sophia, you can see a perfect balance of Islamic and Christian symbols and features. This is a great example of how religions can live together and work towards peace.

Ortakoy Mosque

Ortakoy Mosque is one of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks. Located on the Bosphorus Strait, this Baroque style mosque is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. It was designed by architects Garabet Balyan and Nigogayos Balyanl who were also responsible for the construction of the Dolmabahce Palace nearby.

The neo-Baroque design of the Ortakoy Mosque makes it unique among Istanbul’s other mosques. The Baroque style was popular in the 1800s as it reflected European culture. The Baylan family was regularly chosen to construct some of the most important buildings in Istanbul, and the influence of their designs can be seen throughout the city.

Unlike other iconic mosques in Istanbul, the Ortakoy Mosque has an open-air square at its center that’s surrounded by some of Istanbul’s best restaurants and nightlife options. It’s a great spot for a drink or a meal after sunset.

You can easily reach the Ortakoy Mosque by public transport. There are plenty of buses that will get you there. To get there, simply hop on the 40, 40T, or 42T bus from Taksim or Kabatas, depending on which part of the city you’re starting from.

Once you’re here, it’s worth walking around the area to explore its historic cosmopolitan nature. The open-air square is surrounded by some of Istanbul’s best dining and nightlife options, plus the Aya Fokas (St Phocas) Greek Orthodox church and Etz-Ahayim synagogue.

It’s also worth visiting the local craft market if you’re looking for souvenirs to bring home. You can find a wide selection of items to buy here, from siphoners and blue beads to women’s jewelry and clothing.

If you’re visiting the Ortakoy Mosque at night, it’s a good idea to try to catch the light show that happens here. The lights are an impressive sight and will help you see the structure better.

This beautiful mosque, which was built in 1855, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see for anyone who’s visiting Istanbul. The architecture is breathtaking, and you’ll be able to enjoy the spectacular views of the Bosphorus.

The Ortakoy Mosque is open every day from 9 in the morning until 6 in the evening, but it’s closed on Fridays during prayer hours. The mosque is free to enter, but donations are welcome. If you plan on visiting during prayer hours, it’s a good idea to check the mosque’s website for more information.

Galata Tower

Istanbul’s Galata Tower is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, and it offers some of the best views of the Bosphorus. As well as being an observation deck, the tower is also home to an extensive museum, which features a number of fascinating exhibits and displays.

The tower has a rich history, and it’s still in use today as a fire watch tower. It’s also the highest point of the city, and it offers incredible panoramic views over Istanbul.

A great way to see the tower is by taking a tour with a local guide, who can give you all the information about the tower and show you around. The guide can also recommend places to visit in the nearby area.

If you’re interested in the tower’s rich historical past, there is a small museum inside, which features a timeline of its history. There are also a number of artefacts on display, including the original bell of the tower from the 14th century.

Another great attraction near the Galata Tower is the Galata Bridge, which spans across the Golden Horn and links Karakoy and Eminonu neighborhoods. It’s a lovely place to wander and take in the views of the city.

After your tour of the tower, make sure to try a cup of Turkish coffee and enjoy the view from the cafes and restaurants at the base. They’re the perfect place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

For a more awe-inspiring experience, you can take the elevator up to the eighth floor for an incredibly scenic view of Istanbul. It’s a short climb, but the view is worth it!

To avoid waiting in the queue to enter the tower, buy your Istanbul E-Pass in advance and you can skip the line entirely. The E-Pass can be purchased online for the same price as a regular ticket and it will scan your digital QR code on your phone when you arrive at the entrance.

There are several things to do and see in Istanbul Turkey, but one of the most popular is taking a tour of the city’s ancient monuments. This can be done by booking an Istanbul tour with a local guide or joining a group tour. The guided tours are great for learning about the history of Istanbul and its many famous landmarks.

Whirling Dervishes

If you’re in Istanbul, there’s one experience you won’t want to miss: a whirling dervish ceremony. This 800-year-old ritual is a Sufi practice that’s steeped in tradition and symbolism. It’s a physical form of meditation and worship, dating back to the Mevlevi order and the teachings of Sufi mystic Rumi.

It’s an ancient ritual so integral to Turkey’s spiritual history that it’s been inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It’s a meditative, heart-opening experience that will leave you feeling more connected to the divine.

A Whirling Dervish ceremony, also known as a Sama, is one of the most famous attractions in Turkey and is a great way to immerse yourself in the country’s mystical culture. Head to the Galata Mevlevi Museum, also known as a tekke, to witness this iconic ceremony first hand.

This is a popular activity, so it’s important to book early if you’re hoping to see it. You can buy tickets online or through your hotel.

Once you’ve booked, you’ll be required to meet your guide at the meeting point in Sirkeci, which is near Hagia Sophia. You’ll then be guided to the Hodjapasha Dance Theater, which is home to a number of cultural shows and performances.

There’s a bar here, so it’s a great place to enjoy a drink (own expense). The show itself lasts an hour and is accompanied by live music, Persian chanting, and special effects.

A Dervish ceremony is a fascinating and unique experience that will leave you with lasting memories of Turkey’s mystical culture. You’ll be amazed by how these gentle and spiritual people twirl through the air to achieve perfection.

You’ll also be able to learn more about the Mevlevi Order and their beliefs from a practising Dervish. They’ll take you through the meanings behind their ceremony, as well as the challenges they faced and how they train.

The Mevlevi Order was founded in the 13th century by Celaleddin Mevlana Rumi, who travelled to Konya where he met Mehmet Shemseddin Tebrizi, one of his father’s disciples. They became close friends and shared a mutual love of music.


What Are The Top Things To Do In Istanbul, Turkey?

Istanbul is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. Some of the top things to do in Istanbul include visiting the iconic Hagia Sophia, exploring the grand Topkapi Palace, taking a Bosphorus cruise, and indulging in a Turkish bath.

What Are Romantic Things To Do In Istanbul, Turkey?

Istanbul is a city of romance, and there are many things to do that cater to couples. You can take a sunset boat tour, enjoy a rooftop dinner with a stunning view of the city, stroll along the historic Galata Bridge, or visit the beautiful Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

What Are Cheap Things To Do In Istanbul, Turkey?

Istanbul doesn’t have to break the bank. There are many cheap things to do in Istanbul, including taking a walking tour of the city, exploring the charming Grand Bazaar, visiting the Spice Bazaar, and enjoying a picnic in one of the city’s many parks.

What To Do In Istanbul In 2 Days?

Two days in Istanbul might seem short, but you can still cover some of the city’s most important sights. We suggest visiting the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Basilica Cistern on day one, and exploring the Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and the Spice Bazaar on day two.

What To Do In Istanbul In 3 Days?

If you have only 3 days in Istanbul, you can still experience the city’s highlights. We recommend visiting the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Topkapi Palace on day one, taking a Bosphorus cruise on day two, and exploring the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar on day three.