The Best Things To Do In Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the great cities in the world and is where east meets west separating Europe from, Asia. This lively and vibrant gem known for its art, architecture, cuisine and nightlife, has something for anybody looking for their ideal city break. 

Hagia Sophia 

This former Greek Orthodox Church, and Ottoman Empire Mosque, is now a museum. It was originally built in the 6th century when the city was under Byzantine rule. The world recognised monument was constructed over only six years and was also the world's largest building for many centuries. The impressive structure includes a large dome which was an architecture marvel for the time.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque (The Blue Mosque) 

Sultan Ahmed Mosque is a very popular tourist destination, and it is obvious to see why. It was built between 1609 to 1616 and during the ruling of Ahmed I. The mosque was strategically situated adjacent to the Hagia Sophia as to compete with it. The Mosque is still in use today. There are five main domes and 6 minarets which was all aimed to give this monument a feeling of astounding size. If you think the exterior is impressive then the interior will blow you away. Over 20,000 ceramic tiles, and hundreds of stained-glass windows were used all to which give this stunning piece of architecture is bluish ambience.

Istanbul and Bosphorus River Cruise 

The river cruises will take you through the heart of where east meets west. From the river you will see many of the famous landmarks, which have been prevalent throughout the history of Istanbul. These include the Maiden Tower which is sits on a small island in the southern entrance of the Bosphorus Straight.  You can even decide to take tour of an evening. The city lights add another dimension to the atmosphere. There is also an option to have dinner while on the boat should you choose too.    

Topkapi Palace Museum 

The Ottoman era Topkapi Palace was once the main residences to Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. The Castle was turned into a museum in the 1920’s after the castle lost its importance to the Sultans of the time. Contained within the castle there are hundreds of rooms, to which many of the most important are accessible to the public. The museum holds collections of clothing, items of treasury and weaponry which were of use at the times of the sultans. The castle was made a UNECO Heritage Site in 1985. 

Grand Bazaar 

The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world. Thousands of shops selling items from jewellery to carpets cover the 61 streets. The look and feel of the market has not changed throughout its history. During the peak months, half a million people visit the bazaar a day. It is a very popular tourist destination. Join in on the hustle and bustle and experience an authentic part of the culture in this fascinating city.

Galata Tower 

This monument is a prominent stone tower in the Galata area of Istanbul. You are able to see the tower from the Bosphorus Straight, as it was once the tallest structure in the whole of Istanbul. From the top you are provided with stunning views over the old town. It was anciently used for surveillance over the Golden Horn which was a trading port during the Byzantine period. Later during the Ottoman era it was used to detect fires which started in the city. 

Camlica Hill 

Camlica Hill is situated on the Asian side of Istanbul. From here you can experience some of the best views of the city while getting away from some of the city noise. There are cafes, coffee shops and a revolving restaurant should you feel peckish. The area is also known to be popular with bird watchers due to the variety of migrating birds that can be seen here during the Autumn months.

Istanbul Tours & Attractions

Map of Istanbul

History and Culture of Istanbul 

Positioned on the Bosphorus Straight, Istanbul has always been a significant strategic location as it forms a boundary between European and Asian Turkey. It also connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara which leads onto the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.  

History of the city begins around the 7th century when Greek settlers laid foundations on the European side of the Bosphorus Straight. They named the city Byzantium. There were several attempts to invade during the centuries which followed. Although after these attempts the city remained under Greek control. Byzantium became under the rule of the Roman Empire and Pescennius Niger in 73AD. The Roman Emperor of Septimius Severus later invaded and despite the devastation caused, within a few years, turned the city around making it more powerful than it had ever been before. 

When Constantine the great became the emperor of the Roman Empire the city name was changed to Constantinople. It was later named capital of the entire Roman Empire. Many churches were built, and the area became a hub for Christianity and the largest city in Europe.  

Due to poor management Constantinople began to lose its strength and was finally overrun by the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century. By this time the city was known as Istanbul. The Ottomans transformed it to be a place of Islamic culture. During this time the city developed but slower than compared to other European countries and eventually led to a decline of the Ottoman Empire.  

Several wars took place over the early 20th century. Namely World War I, where the Ottoman Empire sided with the Central Powers, which included Germany, who were eventually defeated. The Republic of Turkey was created in 1923 and the capital of Turkey became Ankara.

Since these times Istanbul has become a commercial and culture hub of Turkey and growing into a vast city with around 15 million inhabitants.

Pictures of Istanbul

Hotels In Istanbul

Choose your ideal hotel or apartment in Istanbul. Select based upon your location, exclusivity or budget and start planning your perfect city break now.