I can say without a doubt that Istanbul is one of the most fascinating cities that I have ever been to. It can be quite overwhelming to be visiting such a huge city, so that it is important to plan your sightseeing tour beforehand. A lot of the must-see sites are close to each other, which makes it easy to cover several in a short amount of time. Take a look at mine top sightseeing spots in Istanbul:
1. Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)
In the 6th century it was constructed as a church, later it was transformed to a mosque and nowadays it is used as a museum. Hagia Sophia (on the left) is even more stunning from the inside, so that I highly suggest to take a look inside the building.
2. Topkapi Palace (Topkapı Sarayı)
Istanbul offers several palaces of former Ottoman sultans, the Topkapi Palace is one of the largest ones. The palace consists of multiple buildings, including the Harem, with gardens around them. Consider a lot of time to wander through the different rooms full of royal robes, imperial treasure, Muslim relics and mostly the impressive wall decorations.
3. Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)
Opposite of Hagia Sophia you can find the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also called Blue Mosque. Inside you will see magnificent mosaic covering the walls and the huge dome. Don’t forget: you will have to take your shoes off and women will have to cover their hair. Also, check the time of prayer sessions to avoid long waiting lines.
4. Basilica Cistern
You don’t see it immediately, but under the streets near Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque is the so-called “Sunken Palace” located from the 6th century. Dimmed light, fish inside the water and the upside-down head of Medusa. Be sure to check it out, you won’t regret it.
5. Galata Tower
If you want to have an amazing view from above, go to Beyoglu and get on top of the 67m-high Galata Tower. On its balcony you will have a stunning 360° view of Istanbul as long as the weather is good. A quick notice: be careful when going downstairs, especially if you are very tall. The passage can get a bit tight sometimes.
5. Ortaköy Mosque
This place is one of the most famous locations to take pictures of the famous Bosphorus bridge. Take photos of the beautiful scenery when the sun is setting and just enjoy the view. Unfortunately, I was not able to visit it because of construction work.
7. The Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı)
The most popular bazaar is the Grand Bazaar that you have probably already heard of. I was overwhelmed when I entered it for the first time. There is so much to see everywhere! Just wander through the hall and get a bit lost (which is quite easy). Quick tip: Try some of the fresh Turkish delight called lokum and always bargain!
Have you been to Istanbul? What are your must-see places in Istanbul?