Best Things To Do In Istanbul Turkey (Itinerary + Shopping + Food Options)

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What are the best places to visit in Istanbul? Let’s read about the best things to do in Istanbul Turkey, and popular tourist attractions in Istanbul for first-timers. So check the best Istanbul itinerary.

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

Come fall in love with beautiful Istanbul – a silhouetted city with a confluence of many cultures, a bi-continental city of Eurasia where West meets East. So let’s read some of the best things to do on a beautiful Istanbul City tour – a complete Istanbul guide in this post.

A bi-continental city with Bosporus Strait dividing this city by Marmara and the Black Sea into the European region and Asian region has a beautiful historical past since 660 BCE.  Known by many names during ancient times, like Augusta, Antonia, Nova Roma, Byzantium, and Constantinople, this city has experienced many cultures due to many invasions by the Greeks, Romans, and Ottoman empires.

 That is why you feel multicultural vibes with a perfect combination of Mediterranean and Islamic cultures. This magical city has vibrant city life and mesmerizing evenings. The numerous attractions like Byzantine churches & museums, Venetian towers, Roman aqueducts(cisterns), majestic Ottoman palaces, splendid rugged skyline across seven hills, minarets with blue waters of Bosporus Strait & the Golden Horn.  

Contents show


Day 1: Arrival in Istanbul – Overnight stay in Istanbul
Day 2: Istanbul City Tour – Overnight stay in Istanbul
Day 3: Fly to Denizli from Istanbul – Pamukkale Tour – Overnight stay in Kusadasi
Day 4: Ephesus Tour – Fly to Kayseri from Izmir – Overnight stay in Cappadocia
Day 5: Cappadocia Tour – Fly to Istanbul from Kayseri


How many days do you need in Istanbul?

3 days in Istanbul - Istanbul Itinerary

Review of Istanbul Welcome Card – Is It Really Worth Buying? - best things to do in Istanbul turkey
Bosphorus Cruise during Golden Hour

Best Things To Do In Istanbul Turkey – A Complete Istanbul Guide


Turkey gives e-Visa to 99 countries. You can click this link to check and apply for your e-Visa. Indians having valid USA visas get e-Visa to Turkey within 2 to 3 working days by applying online. 

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide


Istanbul, located on seven hills and surrounded by three seas, is a huge city with many vibrant neighborhoods. According to many surveys, this city is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole world.  Therefore it has many hotel stays and apartment stays throughout Istanbul. 

Plenty of charming neighborhoods with quirky vibes have wonderful stays, and for first-timers, I would suggest don’t experiment much and book your stay near or at –

SULTANAHMET – All major historic attractions are located here. Old Town on the European side. 

Things to do in Beautiful Istanbul - Sultanahmet view from top

Click here to book at the perfect location in Sultanahmet.

TAKSIM SQUARE & ISTIKLAL STREET – Famous for vibrant nightlife, shopping, street plays & performers – Modern town on the European side.  Click to know more on Shopping In Istanbul, Turkey.

Click here to book a stay near or at Taksim Square.

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

GALATA TOWER – For quirky Cobbled stoned streets, shopping & nightlife. It is a neighborhood between Sultanahmet and Taksim Square.

Click here to book hotels near Galata Tower – 

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Galata – Karakoy neighborhood

Best Things To Do In Istanbul – Best places to visit in Istanbul


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Hagia Sophia

Also known as Aya Sofia. A former church, then a mosque, and now a museum is this city’s most famous and visited attraction. Also, it is the 8th wonder of the world due to its incredible architecture. 


  • Built-in 325AD it collapsed two times.
  • Once upon a time, it was the world’s most prominent place of worship.
  • Converted to a mosque in 1453 when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottomans.
  • It is a museum since 1935.
  • Constructed by East Roman Empire and was the biggest church in that period.
  • The interiors of this museum are enriched with holy works of Christianity & Islam.
  • Witness splendid Christian mosaics and frescoes from the Byzantine area with Islamic calligraphy holy phrases.
Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Interiors of Hagia Sophia

FOR TICKETS – Click here to buy skip a line ticket or take Istanbul Welcome Card for fast-track entry.


Take T1 Tram towards Bagcilar direction from Kabastas direction and get down at Sultanahmet. You can reach by bus, ferry, and public taxis.


Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

One of the most beautiful mosques in Turkey and also in the world.


  • Built in the 17th century under the ruler of Sultan Ahmet I.
  • It is named as Blue Mosque due to blue tiles – “Iznik” in its interior.
  • This unique mosque has 6 minarets which you will not find in another mosque.
  • Located in the historic neighborhood of Sultanahmet square in Faith district.
  • It is closed temporarily on Friday for Friday prayers.
  • Please wear respectful clothing.
Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Interiors of Blue Mosque

FOR TICKETS – The entrance is free.


Take T1 Tram towards Bagcilar direction from Kabastas direction and get down at Sultanahmet. You can reach it by bus, ferry, and public taxis.


Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

Very unique and unusual museum as it is underground. It is a mystical place with a very unique concept of grand architecture under the ground.


  • A water reservoir was built in the 6th century with 336 columns.
  • It met the water requirement from forests 16 km from the palace through ducts.
  • Known as Basilica, as this site was a church once upon a time.
  • Byzantine type of architecture with beautiful columns and corridors.
  • Currently, columns are illuminated with special lighting, making this place unique and beautiful.
  • Famous for two upside down and sleeping heads of Medusa. There is a mystery why Medusa heads are found in this cistern. Many myths are associated with these heads.

FOR TICKETSClick here to purchase tickets.


Take T1 Tram towards Bagcilar direction from Kabastas direction and get down at Sultanahmet. You can reach it by bus, ferry, and public taxis. Located beside Hagia Sophia after you cross the roads towards the Sultanahmet tram stop.


Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

“Topkapi” means Cannon Gate and once upon a time, it was the residence of Ottoman Sultans (Head or King). It is said that beneath the palatial ground lies the remains of a huge Byzantine Acropolis(same as Athens) from the Greek period. 

This palace is located on the peninsula and is surrounded by three seas – the Marmara Sea, the Bosphorus Sea, and the Golden Horn.


  • Built-in the 15th
  • One of the world’s richest museums.
  • For Harem and Hagia irene(formerly a church) you need to buy separate tickets.

FOR TICKETS – Click here to purchase tickets in advance to avoid huge queues in peak season. Or purchase Welcome Card for guided tours and fast track entry.

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Interiors of Topkapi palace


It is adjoining to Hagia Sophia, so take Tram T1 towards Bagcilar direction from Kabastas direction and get down at Sultanahmet. You can reach it by bus, ferry, and public taxis.


Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Galata Tower in day time

A medieval cylindrical stoned tower in the Galata / Karakoy neighborhood of Istanbul. A very iconic, unique monument that adorns the beautiful skyline of Istanbul. 

It is located on the conjunction of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, which means from the top, you get a 360 ° panoramic view of this splendid city which is worth it.


  • It was built many times as it was destroyed by fire and earthquake.
  • The present tower was rebuilt in the 14th century by the Genoese, and first, it was made in 528 in the Byzantium period.
  • It served as many offices like The Fire Tower, and the Ottoman Military Band and was used as a prison too.
  • Earlier it was named Tower of Christ by Genoese, which is a conical-shaped tower.
  • Strategically location makes it a perfect place for having a view on its Observation Deck.
  • It has a total of 9 floors, and till 7 floors elevator takes you up, and you have to climb two floors by a spiral staircase.
  • The view from this tower during the early morning or at sunset is fantastic.
Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
View from the top of Galata Tower

FOR TICKETS – Click here to book tickets in advance. Opens from 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.

TIP – Go early morning to avoid huge rush/crowded queues on a clear day.  Evenings during sunset view are a splendid view, but you have to face a huge rush.
Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Galata Tower in Evening


  • By Tram T1(Bagcilar-Kabastas route) and get down at Karakoy. From here you have to climb some colorful steps or hike the narrow cobblestoned ramp to this tower as it located on the small elevated hilly region.
  • From Taksim Square/Beyoglu neighborhood it is at a walkable distance or you can catch the vintage red-colored tram from Taksim to the end of Istiklal street and then descend down across Galip Dede street to reach here.


Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Bosporus Bridge

Bosporus Bridge is built on Bosporus Strait which connects two continents – Europe and Asia. The most iconic bridge due to this fact and also adds the charm to this city by forming the unique skyline of Istanbul.


  • It is 1.5 km long and is not a pedestrian bridge. The lifeline of this city carries lots of vehicles daily.
  • Also known as Marty’s bridge.
  • It is lit with glittering LED lights at night.
  • One of the world’s famous bridge as it joins two continents.
Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Bosporus Bridge with sunset


You will cross this bridge often when you come from Sahiba Gokcen airport or from the European region to the Asian area or vice-versa. It can be done by taxi, but you get a fabulous view through Big Bus and can also pass underneath on cruises or ferries.


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Cruising with Turkish Tea
  • Take the tour of this silhouetted city with views of the magnificent skyline consisting of minarets & monuments by cruise.
  • Istanbul’s Golden hour is very famous, so taking an evening cruise across the Bosphorus strait must be the most beautiful thing to do here.
  • The cruise is generally 60 or 90 minutes, and there are many other options from which you can select as per your likings like dinner cruise, entertainment cruise, or public ferries.
  • The cruise passes along the beautiful sights of Dolmabache Palace, Ciragan Palace, Galata Tower, Beylerbeyi Palace, Rumeli Fortress, Anadolu fortress, Bosphorus bridge, Suleymaniye mosque lighted up, and the backdrop of the setting sun.
Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Sunset Cruise with beautiful skyline of Istanbul


  • There are huge pier and dock to catch public ferries and cruises at Eminonu Pier, from where you get wide variety of ferries, cruises, yachts, and public water transport.
  • Eminonu Pier can be reached through Tram T1 by getting down at Tram stop – Eminonu. You can achieve this point by public ferry, public bus or taxi.

Click here to purchase Istanbul Bosporus Dinner Cruise with Entertainment.


Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

More than 500 years old covered ancient style of the market is worth visiting for shopping and to admire the antique style of business skills. It is one of the largest and oldest markets in the world.


  • Considered the most ancient shopping mall in the world.
  • The layout of shops and narrow passages forms a maze, and therefore it becomes very confusing and also fun to solve this maze while passing through beautiful and colorful shops.
  • Colorful ethnic and local products of Turkey are sold here.
  • Not only shopping, but you can also admire the tiled ceilings and pillars with some ancient styles works on them.
  • Opens from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Interiors of Grand Bazaar


  • By Tram T1 (Bagcilar-Kabastas route) and get down at Beyazit stop.
  • You can also reach here by public bus.
  • If you take the funicular and public ferry, you must take the same tram, T1, to reach here.
  • Taxis can also be taken.
TIP – Shop dry fruits, ethnic jewelry, lamps, carpets, Turkish silk scarves & cotton towels, and Turkish-styled colorful pottery.
Want to know more about SHOPPING IN ISTANBUL THEN CLICK HERE TO READ Full Shopping Guide.


Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

  • The most famous, vibrant, colorful, and crowded pedestrian street in Istanbul. It looks like a grand boulevard-styled street located in the Beyoglu neighborhood.
  • It starts at Taksim Square and ends at the Galata Tower.
  • There are funky bars, quirky cafes, colorful buildings, night entertainment, street performers, boutique shops, and branded shops.
  • Most a crowded streets as it is trendy among locals and tourists too.


  • The splendid architectural buildings on both sides of the streets were palaces, and mansions in ancient times, which are now converted into shops, restaurants, and famous eateries.
  • You can also locate Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, a famous church, historical passage – Flower Passage, vibrant bylanes, and many night entertainment spots.
  • The most famous vintage-styled red-colored tram of Istanbul also passes through this street. People love this tram so much that they take selfies with it while hanging out and children a fun taking rides while hanging on the stairs as the speed of the tram is very slow. This tram ride takes you back to olden times, and so it is like a time machine that transports you back to the olden era.
  • This street is one of the most photogenic streets of Istanbul for architecture, fun, vintage-style transport, eating out, and colorful-modern shopping.


Drop down at Karakoy Tram, stop by Tram T1 near Galata Tower and then climb up by ramp or stairs to reach here. Or you can take the underground metro to Taksim Station and walk down this beautiful 1.5km stretch.

TIP – Shopping is fun here, especially jewelry, shoes, Turkish delights – sweets (from Hafiz Mustafa) and clothes.


Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

Located on the banks of the Bosphorus Sea in the Besiktas neighborhood, this magnificent and grand palace used to be the residence of Ottoman Sultans after their residence in Topkapi Palace.


  • It has European Baroque style architecture.
  • Built in the 19th century. 
  • Interiors adorn luxurious chandeliers, crystal glass, marble work, and beautiful carpets.

FOR  TICKETS – Click here to buy tickets.


Take Tram T1 and get down at Kabastas station. 

SULEYMANIYE MOSQUE – Best Places To Visit In Istanbul

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Bosphorus Cruise during Golden Hour

Located in the Faith district, this mosque is the most prominent feature in Istanbul’s skyline. It is said that this is the most beautiful mosque in Istanbul.  This mosque looks most beautiful during sunset.



Take Tram T1 and get down at Eminonu station. While cruising across the Bosphorus strait, you can also admire its beauty with sunset.



Admire colorful houses on the southern part of the Golden Horn. This area is known for colorful houses, buildings, cafes, restaurants, and street art and now becoming increasingly popular among tourists for funky colorful tours of Istanbul.

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Colorful houses of Balat


  • Get lost in zig-zag streets on the hilly slopes of this neighborhood.
  • Admire or take photos of colorful houses in hilly regions.
  • Comes under UNESCO Cultural Heritage Project.

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide


Take the bus from Eminonu and tell the bus driver to drop you at Balat by showing the Google location as they will not understand English much.  Taxis are the most convenient way to reach here.

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Colorful lanes in Balat
Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Colorful lanes cafes in Balat


Vegetarians will get a lot of varieties like grilled vegetables cooked in curry style and served with white rice or saffron rice.

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Curried spicy Turkish style Vegetables on hot skillet and Rice

Like Greek dish Moussaka, you will also get grilled eggplant with spices and curry on sizzler plates with Turkish loaves of bread.

Stuffed bread with spinach or cheese  – Gozmele is worth trying out.

Veggie Pide – Boat-shaped Turkish Pizza

Lots and lots of Turkish sweets, Ice-cream and drinks like Anar(Pomegranate) juice, pineapple juice, Grapefruit juice, Turkish tea & coffee.

My suggestions for vegetarian-friendly restaurants with many varieties are ALEMDAR & GLAMOUR CAFÉ. Buy sweets from Hafiz Mustafa with many outlets found everywhere in the city. 

Almedar Restaurant is within walking distance from Hagia Sophia & Basilica Cistern towards Gulhane Tram station. They have a special vegetarian menu with Turkish-style of lower seating on carpets & cushions with authentic local décor.

And if you want Turkish vegetarian food with a view of the Bosphorus bridge and the Istanbul skyline, then I would suggest Glamour café near Hodja Pasha Cultural Center at Sirkeci Tram station.

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
View from Glamour Lounge & Cafe


  • Observation Deck of Galata Tower
  • Eminony Ferry station
  • Top of Glamour café
  • From Bosphorus Cruise
  • Karakoy Bridge
  • While driving across Bosphorus Bridge
  • Many hotels offer skyline view rooms, so you book this kind of stay. Or you can have dinner with a view at several cafes and restaurants in this city.
  • Camlica Hill on the Asian side.

WHERE TO SHOP IN ISTANBUL – Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

Shops nearby iconic Sirkeci railway station, Grand Bazaar, Istiklal street, shops nearby Gulhane Tram station in Old Town area.

Istiklal street and shops near Galata Tower in the new town region.


  • Istanbul is known as the city that never sleeps. So there is multiple choice of evening entertainment for all tastes and styles. You can book whirling Dervishes Sufi shows, sunset tours, a
  • Dinner cruise with belly dance, music concerts, street entertainment on Istiklal street, dinner with a view from a stylish restaurant, and many more activities.
  • Click here to book the show of Whirling Dervishes to witness a unique Sufism show at HodjaPasha cultural center. Book tickets in advance as sometimes this show is complete.  Or you can book a Whirling dervish show at the historic station of Sirkeci Railway station from where the Orient Express story originated. 
  • Click here to book this show. Or you can book an entertaining Turkish dance at HodjaPasha cultural center which is held only on specific days. Click here to book Turkish danceBest Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
  • Nearby HodjaPasha Cultural Center, there are beautiful narrow alleys, quirky Turkish restaurants, colorful, funky seating areas, and outdoor and indoor options.
  • This lane is known as Hocapasha Restaurant’s lane. Vegetarians, too get their food here. 

    Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
    HocaPasha Restaurant lane

  • Istiklal street on Taksim square for quirky pubs, bars, and shopping.
  • Galata neighborhood for colorful bars, pubs, cafes & restaurants across the slopy cobblestoned street. Also, you can book your dinner at the top of Galata with special shows with a 360-degree view of the whole city. 

    Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
    Colorful restaurants in Galata neighborhood

  • Bosphorus Night Cruise with Dinner and Entertainment to admire the glittering skyline.

BEST TIME TO VISIT ISTANBUL | Best Things To Do In Istanbul 

April to September – Summer and Peak tourist season.

March to October are shoulder seasons.

November to March – off-peak season due to winters. Less crowded and more affordable.

COMMUTING IN ISTANBUL – Istanbul Turkey Itinerary

  • Public Transport is very well developed and highly efficient to reach from one place to another. The whole city is connected through buses, ferries, trams, metros, and funicular networks. 
  • The frequency of this transport also is excellent, and you don’t have to wait a long to catch the other tram or bus if you miss one.

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

The ticket costs 2.67 TK(Turkish Lira) for one ride, and commuting in public transport is safe with standard precautions.

Review of Istanbul Welcome Card – Is It Really Worth Buying?

You can also hire yellow-colored cabs that run on meter and pay accordingly. The problem in this will be the driver does not understand much English, so with the help of a handwritten address or Google map, they will drop you at your destination.

Don’t think about self-drive as this city is very crowded and you will always get stuck in traffic jams or signals. Also, getting a parking slot is a big task here.  

HOW TO REACH ISTANBUL? – Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

By Air –

Istanbul has two International Airports – Sahiba Gokcen Airport and a new International Airport. They both are well connected with many flights from all over the world.

By Road –

This country has many roadways, either from the Asian or European sides.  Many buses or rent a car take you to Turkey through roads from neighboring countries of Turkey.

By Rail –

This city can be reached through trains from the European side only.

By Sea –

This city is located on three seas, so waterways are very efficiently developed here. You can reach Karakoy Port of Istanbul from many cruises offering Istanbul by sea tours.

Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
Colorful city of Istanbul would truly enchant you – Discover your favorite corner in beautiful Istanbul……

GENERAL FACTS & TIPS ABOUT ISTANBUL | Best Things To Do In Istanbul City Tour 

  • The currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TL). You will find many reliable exchange houses across the city and can exchange them from here. Don’t carry too much-exchanged currency from your home, as you get reasonable rates here.
  • If you want to avoid International roaming, purchase a local SIM card from the airport. You will get choices from Vodafone, Turkcell, and Turk Telekom. Activate your SIM from the booth where you buy the card, and in the city, there are free WiFi spots at many places.
  • Istanbul is a city of past, present, and future, so there are many things to do.
  • You will need at least 3 to 4 days to see most of the major attractions, but for wholesome fun, you need a week here.
  • As Istanbul is huge and historical, you must walk a lot. Wear comfortable footwear; on average, you would walk 15000 or 20000 steps daily. My average was 18000 steps daily in Istanbul, though I used public transport a lot.
  • Many people assume Istanbul is divided by water into two regions. Still, water divides Istanbul into three regions – the European side Old Town region, the European side New Town by the Golden Horn & Asian side by Bosphorus Strait. 

    Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide
    View of Golden Horn from top of Galata Tower

  • Istanbul is built on 7 hills and 2 continents and is surrounded by 3 seas. So it has a unique charm and magic.
  • Tulips famous in the Netherlands originated from this place.
  • The famous suspense novel by Agatha Christie – “Murder on Orient Express” was conceptualized and written here at Hotel Pera Palas. You can also spot that favorite station of Constantinople quoted in this book, just opposite Sirkeci Tram station.
  • Istanbul has more than 3000 mosques.
  • Grand Bazaar attracts more than 250000 to 400000 tourists daily.
  • This city was damaged by fire, earthquakes, and invaders and rebuilt too many times by different cultures. So you can see the influence of all cultures here.
  • People of Turkey are very fond of Bollywood(Indian Movies), especially its superstar “Aamir Khan.”
  • The world’s oldest underground railway system is located here – The Tunnel.
  • This city is vast and crowded, so once you enter this city for a few hours or a day, you will not feel adjusted or think of overrated tourist places. But after a day you would love this city and its magic. It has a unique charm to be-spell you.
  • Not only Istanbul is worth visiting in Turkey, but there are certain other places and there are amazing things to do in Cappadocia, Ephesus, Antalya, Ankara, Izmir, Pamukkale, Bodrum, Konya, Kusadasi, Fethiye, Cesme, Bursa, Trabzon, and many more . 

Best Things To Do In Istanbul City Tour - 10 best things to do in Istanbul

Turkey Itinerary 5 Days

DAY TRIPS FROM ISTANBUL | Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide

I hope you loved these Best Things To Do In Beautiful Istanbul City Tour – A Complete Istanbul Guide. If you want to purchase the Istanbul Welcome card, which covers many attractions and public transport, then read my analysis with all the pros and cons of it.

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So, till then KEEP TRAVELING……………… KEEP EXPLORING…………………………………………………… 

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  1. I visited Istanbul in June and I simply loved it, but I wish I had read this beforehand 😛
    This is really helpful, loved the read, so thank you for sharing!
    And Happy New year! 😀

  2. Istanbul has been a place I have wanted to visit for ages and seeing your pictures makes me want to get there soon. I never realised how European looking it looks. I want to visit the Hagia Sophia, the blue mosque and so many other places. I also want to do a cruise at night so I can see the city all lit up. Am going to look at flights now.

  3. Thank you for such a complete guide! I’ve always wanted to see the Blue Mosque and knowing that I never check schedules, I probably would’ve visited on a Friday and been disappointed. Definitely some great tips and good to know’s. All the architecture looks amazing too and I’d definitely love to do a cruise tour during sunset.

  4. That’s an interesting fact about Indian passport holders with valid USA Visa. I wonder if the same is applicable for Schengen Visa holders. I need to check that.
    Hagia Sophia is the main reason why I want to visit Istanbul. Basilica Cistern too has been added to my wishlist. thanks to Dan Brown! Lolz.
    I’m so glad to read about the multiple options for vegetarians. The food doesn’t look too different from Indian cuisine as well. I hope to visit Istanbul soon! Thanks for the inspirations.

    1. I too find Turkish cuisine has many similarities with Indian food. Also a history buff would love this place with so many historical and cultural influences.

    2. This is such a very detailed guide to Istanbul. Istanbul is on my list of places to travel, i just love the history and culture. Istanbul is really a wonderful place

  5. I can see why you fell in love with this ancient city. It is beautiful and rich in history and architecture. The 8th wonder of the world would be a wonderful site to tour, as well as, all of those options for a city view vantage point. I love the fact that it is a walkable city, with daily 15,000 to 20,000 steps, it just means you can easily burn off calories sampling the Turkish cuisine. This is definitely on my travel list and serves as a great guide. I have pinned for future reference.

  6. Wow, so much to do in Istanbul. I would love to visit one day. Huh, I never knew the city was divided in three regions. I always thought it was only two. Good to know it is a walking city. I love big cities where you can get around on foot. I also never knew that the world’s largest underground railway system was in Istanbul.

    1. You would come to know many wonderful facts about Istanbul after visiting this city. Even I was also knowing about division into two parts but when visited this place, came to know about 3 parts.

  7. I travelled to Istanbul many years ago and this broke back loads of memories to start with but you know what I really do want to the visit it again. My favourites like most people who visit this city would be the Sophia Hagia and the Blue Mosque. I remember spending a lot of my time in these and your photos just transported me back in time. The Topkapi Museum is another place which interests me and it does have a lot of history and a great collection in it. A tour on the Bhosphorous and a visit to the souk would be high on my list ‘this time which I missed on my last visit. Thanks for bringing back great memories

  8. Istanbul looks so beautiful!! I’ve always wanted to see the Hagia Sophia in person. One day!

  9. I found the interior of the Blue Mosque is similar to interior of the Hagia Sophia. I wonder if it got influences from the Ottoman or the Roman, or both. The sleeping heads of Medusa are intriguing, so I won’t miss this museum as well when I get a chance to visit Istanbul. The city is so beautiful and rich in history. No wonder Istanbul is one of the most popular cities in the world.

  10. Great post!! Istanbul has always been in my list since I started my travel journey and gladly I am current;y planning my trip to Istanbul for next year and I would love to include some recommendation you mentioned especially SULEYMANIYE MOSQUE it looks something from the movie Aladdin.

  11. I haven’t thought much about visiting Istanbul. I usually travel to Europe and have missed so much of the world. I am all about the Grand Bazaar! I would like to visit Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The interiors look incredible and I love that the Istanbul welcome card gives fast track entrance to Hagia Sophia. I enjoy seeing the city from the water and from above so a visit to the towers observation deck and cruise are must do’s. Gosh, there is so much to see and do in Istanbul!

  12. I have only been to Istanbul’s airport in transit but before I could step foot in the city, I realised I can’t just do this city in a transit – it has to be a dedicated getaway. Your post succinctly describes all that one is needed to do in Istanbul covering the Blue Mosque and its highlights. I didn’t even know that water divides Istanbul into three regions – that’s pretty cool!

  13. This is such a timely post for me, as we’re planning on visiting Istanbul next year. A tour’s a great way to see the best sights, and in just a short amount of time. The blue mosque is stunning in photos as is the grand bazaar and I can’t wait to visit. Also, I’m crazy about Turkish food, so would love to try everything when I visit!

  14. I loved reading this! I have been dreaming about visiting Istanbul for a long time already, and I see how much there is to see and do. I definitely want to smell all the spices in Grand Bazaar and try all the turkish delights. I have been to Turkey before but never in Istanbul, and I´m so excited about it. I love it that you gave an detailed explanation how to get around there.

  15. I would absolutely love to visit Istanbul and I feel as though your post covers everything for the first time visitor like me. I think I would start with the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the whirling dervishes and the colourful houses!

  16. Istanbul is definitely on my bucket list after reading this. Such a fascinating place. I love the rich culture and marvellous architecture. Topkapi Palace is beautiful and I really want to see it. The Grand Bazaar sounds like so much fun, although I probably would get lost in it. Turkish food is one of my favourite foods, so I would certainly relish eating here. Great post.

  17. Hi Yukti, that is a very comprehensive guide on Istanbul and you’re pretty much covered everything I could think of as well. I absolutely loved Istanbul when I visited too, for the architecture, the food, and the vibe! Taksim Square and Istiklal street were an absolute delight, I loved strolling there, having their famous Turkish Icecream, sitting in one of the patio bars, and visiting the boutiques. Of course, the landmarks such as Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, etc were amazing to visit as well.

  18. Istanbul is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s so rich in history! We’ve spent there a week some years ago, but I can still remember every place we visited. My favorite was Hagia Sophia. I’d love to return to Istanbul someday.

  19. Istanbul has been part of our bucket list and we’re planning to visit this 2020. I am so thankful to find your post as this is the most detailed and helpful article I have read. Checking the hotels you mentioned near Galata Tower.

  20. What a fantastic tour you had! Your tips for first time travelers are really helpful. I am dying to get to this beautiful city someday. Saving this guide link for my trip there which I hope will happen soon. Trams there reminded me of the ones I saw in Lisbon. I also liked the vegetarian food guide you gave.

  21. What a comprehensive guide to Istanbul. From pre-planning to the trip itinerary, you have covered it all. Loved your tips on commuting around and what to eat. I also, loved the list of places to see – of course, a few that I knew of but quite a few that I did not know of. Thanks for this. Bookmarking it for my own trip,

  22. I absolutely loved Istanbul and managed to see most things on your list. I really loved the Blue Mosque although most of it was under repair at the time. The Suleymaniye Mosque is also really amazing.

  23. Great post, so much information! I would love to visit the Bosphorus Bridge, I find it so cool that it connects 2 continents. The Grand Bazzar also sounds like a lot of fun! Also would love to see the cobblestone streets, those are always a favorite of mine.

  24. This is a very thorough guide to Istanbul. I like how you’ve included all the info we need like pricing, local facts, best times to visit and so on. The Galata Tower intrigues me, I’d love to have a look at that if I ever make it to Istanbul

  25. Istanbul truly is one of the most magical cities in the world. This is a great post on all the fantastic things to do in Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia was a definite highlight on my visit and I reallly enjoyed doing a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait. I can also highly recommend staying at the Swisshotel.

  26. Istanbul is still on the travel wish list! Would love to visit there. Thanks for the review of the different areas and places to stay. Often hard to pick a hotel in a new city blindly. Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are definitely on our list of places not to miss. We love to see a new city from different perspectives so will definitely want to do a Bosphorus cruise. And strolling along to Taksim Square would be a great treat. Glad to know it is not just filled with tourists. Definitely a post to re-visit if we get Istanbul on our travel plans.

  27. OMG, every time I see something about Istanbul it reminds me of the They Might Be Giants song. Of course I had to play it while reading your post. 🙂 Great tips about what areas to stay in and when to visit the attractions like Galata Tower and Grand Bazaar. Wow, 18,000 steps a day! That’s a lot of walking.

  28. Great tips, I’ve been wanting to go to Istanbul for years and am saving this post for when I do go! I stayed with a Turkish couple in the states for awhile and also loved all the food they cooked for me.

  29. I meet a fellow traveller in Georgia recently and told me about Istanbul. Know that I read you blog. Im fully convince. Hopefully I could visit next year. Love the photos also. 🙂

  30. I recently started thinking more about Turkey and Istanbul has come up time and time again as a must see city. It looks so nice and the food is what really interests me. My friend’s mother just moved to Turkey so maybe I have to definitely go now

  31. Fantastic tips for first time travelers, for example, myself. I havent reached this beautiful city yet but this guide has given me some ideas. I still want to do the boat trip across from Europe to Asia and to check out that mosque! That looks so stunning. But the trams even look classic and a delight to take a ride on!

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