If you want to explore Istanbul and see every point of it, you are on the right list! We have compiled the 12 most popular places for you to make it easier for you to visit Istanbul.
Belgard Forest is one of the most privileged and attractive places in Istanbul. Belgrade Forest is the perfect place to get away from the chaos of the city and reconnect with nature. Surrounded by greenery, the area provides perfect tranquillity with its calm atmosphere.
Belgrad Forest, located in Sarıyer district, is a large forest area frequently used for recreational activities. Walking and jogging are just two of the many relaxing activities that can be done in the region. Named after the village of Belgrade, where the people of Belgrade brought by Suleiman the Magnificent on his return from his campaign in Serbia were settled, this forest contains the ruins of historical cities.
It also has a very rich geography in terms of water availability and nine nature reserves to explore. The forest is home to a wide variety of animals and plants. You can explore the Atatürk Arboretum, home to more than 2,000 plant species in a well-maintained grounds. At 230 metres high, Kartaltepe is the highest hill in the region, covering an area of 5,300 hectares. Most of the trees in the forested area are oak, hornbeam, beech and chestnut varieties.
In the region you can see the magnificent Valens Aqueduct and traces of the Ottoman period. You can spend time in Bahcekoy, a small town near the centre of the forest. Alternatively, you can dine al fresco in picnic areas and enjoy the nature.
Buyukada is the largest of the Prince Islands, a group of islands in the Sea of Marmara. The island can be easily explored on foot or by bicycle, as it is five square kilometres (two square miles) in size. Among the island’s many attractions are historic religious buildings, stately homes and two hills from which you can enjoy spectacular views.
When you take the ferry to Buyukada, there are many interesting places you can see. The huge Büyükada Greek Orphanage, which is claimed to be one of the largest wooden structures in the world, is worth seeing. You can climb the opposite hill to reach the tiny Aya Yorgi Church where you can watch the breathtaking view. You can visit Agios Nikolaos Church and Monastery in the valley between the two hills.
The Hamidiye Mosque, the former home of Lev Trotsky and the Mizzi mansion are among the other must-see sights of the region.
Locals flock to Çamlıca Hill, the most prominent hill in Istanbul, to enjoy the park and the spectacular views of the city. The hill is located on the Asian side of the city and offers spectacular views of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.
Panoramic views of Istanbul and the Bosphorus can be seen from Çamlıca Hill, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
There is a terrace with a view on Çamlıca Hill, which is far away from concrete, noise pollution and the chaos of city life.
For those who want to eat and drink with a view, there are restaurants and cafes with Bosphorus views. It is also a great place for wedding photographs due to its uniqueness. Küçük Çamlıca Hill and Büyük Çamlıca Hill are located 229 metres above sea level in the smaller part of Çamlıca Hill.
Places such as Küçük Çamlıca Grove, Sofa, Cihannüma, Topkapı Mansion attract both locals and tourists. Restaurants provide a space where diners can taste the flavours of Ottoman and Turkish cuisine. In addition, Küçük Çamlıca Hill is home to a TV tower that can be seen from many points in Istanbul.
Nurbaba Tekke, restaurants, cafes and other social amenities are available on Büyük Çamlıca Hill, making it a more popular tourist destination than Küçük Çamlıca Hill. The hill is 262 metres above sea level. It amazes you with breathtaking views from a tremendous height. Both sides of the Bosphorus Bridge connecting Europe and Asia can be seen from here. If possible, come just before sunset to catch one of nature’s most spectacular views.
Taksim Square is one of the busiest and most vibrant intersections in Istanbul. Locals and visitors alike recognise it as the beating heart of Istanbul. The area is full of great shops, restaurants and bars. It is an important cultural centre as well as a major transit hub, making it a must-see. Many different shows and festivals are organised in a large area, including one on New Year’s Eve.
Istiklal Street, which is only open to pedestrians, also provides shopping opportunities by offering a variety of local and international products. You can always find street vendors and stalls in Taksim Square. You can take the nostalgic tram and see the Republic Monument, which makes a great backdrop for tourist photos. The Republic Monument, standing in the centre of the square, was built in 1925.
Taksim Square is one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist attractions for foreign visitors. Despite numerous changes in the appearance of the square, the energy that pervades the area remains. The square will be reorganised and greened over the next few years as part of a series of rehabilitation projects.
Miniatürk, Turkey’s most popular architecture, offers visitors a variety of activities such as a swimming pool, a small shopping mall, an amphitheatre, a car park and children’s playgrounds.
Miniatürk in Istanbul is one of Turkey’s most important architectural landmarks and tourist attractions. If you would like to accompany the audio tours of these structures, there are nine different language options available.
While travelling around Istanbul, you can discover many fascinating places. The models are made at a scale of 1:15 and are extremely accurate. The park’s models include Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Maiden’s Tower, Anatolian Fortress, Ataturk Airport, Hagia Sophia, 15 July Martyrs’ Bridge, Dolmabahce Clock Tower and Eyup Sultan Mosque.
Miniatürk allows you to take a mini tour of the whole country. A short park tour is also available with the Miniatürk Express, where more than 100 artefacts are visited. Miniatürk is open 365 days a year, including holidays and weekends, from 9 am to 6 pm.
The Basilica Cistern is one of the most unique places to visit in Istanbul. The Basilica Cistern is the largest ancient underground cistern in Istanbul, hidden under the crowded streets of the city. It was built in the 6th century to meet the city’s water needs. It has a total surface area of approximately 9,800 square metres (105,000 square feet). Despite its enormous storage capacity, today only a modest amount of water covers the floor. The arches and cruciform vaults supporting the ceiling and the arches supporting the roof are decorated with ancient carvings. You can’t help but immerse yourself in the changing atmosphere and stunning scenery.
The huge scale of the cistern, hidden beneath the streets of the city, amazes you, as do the small lights reflected in the water and the paths that wind around the huge underground complex with many columns lying in front of it. Two columns with carved Medusa heads on their pedestals should not be overlooked. One of the columns is upside down, which makes the snake-haired woman even more intriguing.
Lalehi Taşhan has been given many different names. Currently, the signboard at the entrance of the inn reads “Historical Old Bazaar”. Laleli Taşhan has been known as “Katırcıoğlu” and “Çukurçeşme” for centuries. It was built by Mustafa III in 1763 to accommodate the sipahis. For this reason, it is called “Sipahiler Inn” in some publications. also known as
The architecture of the inn, which consists of two floors and three courtyards, gives it a unique personality. The use of cut stone in the construction of Laleli Taşhan is one of its most remarkable aspects. Laleli Taşhan is one of the rare structures of its kind, made entirely of cut stone, reminding the period in which it was built.
This historical inn, in addition to being directly opposite the Laleli Mosque, functions as an open-air bazaar and continues to welcome tourists and visitors as one of the most visited places in Istanbul.
You can visit Lalehi Tashhan for free, and you can also use the many shops in the area for shopping. There are also many cafes operating within Lalehi Taşhan. You can immerse yourself in the rich history of the region while sipping your tea or coffee.
Visitors wishing to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Istanbul can do so from this wide vantage point, formerly used as a fire tower by fire watchers. The Genoese built the historic Galata Tower in the late 1340s. The Romanesque-style tower rises 67 metres (220 ft) above the surrounding landscape. The nine-storey building is an important component of the Istanbul skyline and can be seen for miles around. The cone-shaped roof adorns the summit of the cylindrical tower.
By using the lift to ascend the tower, many of Istanbul’s most notable landmarks, such as the peninsula, the historic ancient city and the Bosphorus, are clearly visible.
You can relax in the charming surroundings of the restaurant and enjoy a delicious meal with your loved ones. You can watch the traditional, mesmerising Turkish show and return in the evening for more entertainment.
Anadolu Kavağı, a neighbourhood in the Beykoz region of Istanbul, stands out as a touristic fishing town. It is one of the best known and most visited attractive centres of Istanbul. Anadolu Kavagi is a popular destination for visitors and locals, especially during the summer months.
Yoros Castle, dating from the Eastern Roman period, is of great importance for tourists. Those who are passionate about Istanbul will once again admire the view of this perfectly located neighbourhood by having breakfast with a view of the Bosphorus or choosing to eat fresh fish from the Bosphorus.
On your way to Yoros Castle, you can stop by Yoros Cafe on the street full of cafes and restaurants and sip your tea with a breathtaking view of the Bosphorus.
The Maiden’s Tower is one of the most recognisable landmarks of Istanbul, floating on the Bosphorus. It was also used as a customs station during the Byzantine period and as a show platform during the Ottoman period. However, it is best known for the story of the snake bite prophecy that led to the death of the princess.
Upon the prophecy, the king builds a tower in the middle of the sea and places the princess here. However, a snake coming out of a grape basket sent to the tower causes the death of the princess.
You can enjoy the view of the tower from the shore. Along the coast from Üsküdar, you can find many cafes in front of the tower where you can relax with a cup of tea and enjoy the view. It is also ideal for watching the sunset over the Golden Horn and is a must-see for every traveller.
Another option is to visit the inside of the Maiden’s Tower and watch the wonderful view from there. You need to take a boat to go to the tower. You can learn a lot about the history of the tower by visiting the museum inside.
Maiden’s Tower also offers an option for a romantic evening. A wonderful restaurant inside the tower, serving both traditional and international cuisine, has a view that you will remember with happiness for a lifetime.
Gülhane Park, which means “Rose House”, is one of the largest and most beautiful parks in Istanbul. It is located right next to Topkapi Palace, the city’s most famous landmark. The park’s beautiful grounds and gardens, once only open to members of the royal family, are now open to the public and well worth a visit.
Locals and visitors alike enjoy strolling through the park’s picturesquely landscaped flowerbeds and fountains, as well as its lush trails through verdant meadows and groves of trees. You can relax in one of the park’s open-air cafes and enjoy the tranquil setting with views of the magnificent gardens, pools and the adjacent Bosphorus.
In Gülhane Park, there is the Museum of the History of Islamic Science and Technology, located in the Has Stables Building adjacent to the Palace Wall, which is worth seeing.
Emirgan Park, commonly known as ‘Emirgan Korusu’ in Turkish, is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul, covering 47 hectares and completely surrounded by a high wall. Covered with cypress trees for many years, the area changed hands many times until it was opened to the public in the 1940s. The park is home to a wide variety of plants and flowers, as well as two decorative ponds and three magnificent pavilions. Jogging and walking paths and various eating and drinking areas make it a popular recreational destination.
You can take a pleasant walk in the park by admiring the beautiful flower varieties. Pine, cedar, beech, ash, spruce and willow are some of the trees in the park. If you go in spring, do not return without seeing the tulips in full bloom.
It might be a good idea to visit all three pavilions of the park: Yellow Pavilion, Pink Pavilion and White Pavilion. Each pavilion has its own character. The Yellow Pavilion is decorated in the style of a traditional Ottoman house with a café. The Pink Pavilion houses historical artefacts and serves as a café on weekends. Finally, the White Pavilion, built in Neo Classical style, also has a café.