What to Eat, See, and Do in Istanbul

The city that is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, formerly known as Constantinople, is the largest in Turkey. Often mistaken for the capital, it is a thriving metropolis embedded in a place full of history. 

 

Istanbul is a place where the modern meets the traditional and where everyone is welcome.

Things to See and Do

Entertainment and Nightlife

A rich nightlife, sophisticated clubs, music, and festivals, Istanbul will never run out of things for you to do.

Galata: An important cultural center, the Galata neighborhood is known for its music scene. Jazz aficionados will feel particularly at home here.

Bosphorus: The place to be if you are looking for a fun clubbing experience. The shores and waterfront terraces are iconic. International DJs and live performers frequent Bosphorus year-round.

Beyoglu: If you are looking for the best live music venues, boutique shops, and nightlife in Turkey, you should be looking at Beyoglu.

Shopping in Istanbul

One of the world’s premier shopping destinations, you can get almost anything in Istanbul. In Istanbul, you can shop at popular shopping streets, giant shopping malls, and traditional bazaars.

Popular Shopping Streets in Istanbul

  • Istiklal Street
  • Bagdat Street
  • Bahariye Street

Shopping Malls 

  • Cevahir Istanbul in Mecidiyekoy
  • Brandium in Atasehir
  • Nautilus in Kadikoy

Bazaars

  • Grand Bazaar
  • Egyptian Spice Bazaar
  • Antique Books Market
  • Cumartesi Market

Where to Go

From historic landmarks to street bazaars, to religious sites, you will never run out of places to go in Istanbul.

Iconic Landmarks

Galata Tower

One of the oldest towers in a city full of towers, it was historically used to detain prisoners of war. Enjoy beautiful views from the top and see the inspiration of many artists in the 19th century.  

The plaza near the tower has many great restaurants, cafes, and clubs.

Maiden’s Tower

Also known as Leander’s Tower, it was built in 1110 by then emperor Alexius Comnenus of Byzantium. 

Legend says it was built by a king to protect his daughter from an evil prophecy. The tower is exceptionally beautiful at sunset. Enjoy romantic candlelight dinners at the restaurant situated in the tower.

Basilica Cistern

A magnificent underground water reservoir. It was built in 532 by Emperor Justinian. The columns of the cistern each have beautiful and unique designs. The statue of Medusa there is a must-see.

Religious Sites

Hagia Sophia Mosque

Constructed between 532 and 537 AD, it is known for its stunning architecture, beautiful Byzantine mosaics, and striking Ottoman calligraphy.

A place of deep history, it is now a UNESCO world heritage site. 

Blue Mosque

Another stunning mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is one of the icons of Istanbul. The exterior is characterized by beautiful domes, half-domes, and minarets. Blue tiles cover the interior giving it its name, the Blue Mosque. 

Beautiful and elegant, a visit to Istanbul is not complete without stopping at the Blue Mosque.

Villages & Towns

The area around Istanbul also offers many places you can visit. 

Sile

A beautiful coastal town with great beaches, lighthouses, and seafood. Fresh air, cozy places, and plenty of excellent hotels and restaurants make Sile an excellent place to visit.

Agva

A village near the city of Istanbul, with beautiful forests and rivers next to the sea. Here you can explore the historical sites, take in natural beauty, and have a pleasant breakfast by the river.

Where to Eat & Drink

At the crossroads of the world, you can get a variety of cuisines in Istanbul. As the biggest city in Turkey, you will find food whatever you are craving.

Çağrı Büfe in Nişantaşı

A delicious and affordable place, perfect for food on the go. Get some delicious doner along with a glass of ayran. On the other hand, you can sit, eat delicious food, and watch the world pass by.

Hayvore

For lunch get some mouthwatering Turkish Pizza, Black Sea seafood, or some fish soup. 

This popular restaurant is located in Beyoğlu.

Street-food in Istanbul

Simit 

Shaped like a donut, this sesame seed-covered bread is one of Istanbul’s favorite street food. Perfect with a bit of cheese and a cup of tea. 

Meatballs in Bread 

Another staple street food, this meatball sandwich is served with sliced tomatoes, seasoning, green peppers, and onions.

Lokma

Deep fry dough, soak it in syrup, coat it in cinnamon, and you get Lokma. This delicious dessert is not to be missed.

Wine Tasting in Istanbul

Wine lovers will enjoy Istanbul’s diverse wine houses. With a history as one of the best places in the world for wine, there are a lot of places to go wine tasting.

  • Sensus Wine & Food
  • Moda Teras Winery
  • La Mancha Wine House

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