In the heart of Türkiye lies the fabled and famous city of Istanbul attracting wanderlusts from across the globe. The city boasts of ancient architecture with its rich cultural heritage and reminiscents of the Ottoman Empire visible throughout the city. Apart from the region’s history, the culinary scene in Istanbul is also something one will find quite intriguing. A dive into the city’s archaeological attractions will bring you close to several iconic moments and sights that will leave you in awe. Below is an interesting read on 15+ things to do in Istanbul.
Things To Do In Istanbul – 15+
Take a Turkish Bath
One of the most relaxing and rejuvenating things to do in Istanbul is to indulge in a traditional Turkish bath, popular as the hammam bath. The bath begins with a rinse-off with fresh groundwater, next you step in a sauna for 15 minutes. Post that, you’ll be scrubbed, and massaged in a massive steamed room with a massive marble top. The centuries-old bathing ritual will leave you feeling like a new person. Some of these Hammam’s date back 2000 years, making the experience, authentic and exhilarating.
Explore the Grand Bazaar
Istanbul is an old-world country which once was the origin point of the largest empire in the world, the Ottoman. The influence of the vast empire gave birth to bazaars which would serve as common points of trade. The bazaars became the perfect trading point for the general public, where one would trade for basic necessities essential for survival. One such place is the Grand Bazaar in the heart of Istanbul. The bazaar to this day houses close to 4,000 shops and 60 alleyways making it a shopper’s paradise. From colourful textiles and intricate ceramics to shimmering jewellery and exotic spices, the market has it all.
Sail down the Bosporus Strait
The Bosporus Strait is an influential and strategic sea route that lies to the northwestern helm of Türkiye. The Strait is a natural waterway that connects the Sea Of Marmara to the Black Sea. Since ancient times the strait has been the only channel of connecting Turkey to the rest of Europe. Take a boat tour down the Bosporus Strait and marvel at the stunning views of Istanbul’s skyline and the sea that divides Europe and Asia.
Visit the Princes’ Islands
Next on the list of exciting things to do in Istanbul brings us to the Prince’s Islands. The unique location of the island places it off the coast of Istanbul and is an experience on its own. The islands lie just a short ferry ride from Istanbul and are a group of nine islands. Here you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and soak up some Mediterranean sunshine. The best part about the islands’ is that they do not have cars, so one in all actuality can enjoy the serene and tranquil ambience of the village life.
Take a Street food tour
Istanbul is famous for its mouth-watering street food. It has some of the best Middle Eastern dishes to offer in the heart of Türkiye. The city boasts some of the most exquisite delicacies that can be found in Türkiye ranging from savoury meatballs and spicy kebabs to sweet baklava and numerous styles of Turkish delights. The most unique and satisfying dish of them all are certainly the light, hearty and the lip-smacking Cig Kofte. Take a food tour across the streets of Türkiye and discover street food like never before while indulging in the most exciting things to do in Istanbul.
Marvel at the Blue Mosque
The next best thing to do in Istanbul is to plan a visit to the Sultanahmet Mosque also famous as, the Blue Mosque. The mosque is a unique remnant masterpiece of Ottoman architecture with its dome and six minarets. The mosque dates back to the 17th century and adorns over 20,000 hand-painted blue tiles. The tiles reflect the natural sunlight that pours in the mosque via the 200 windows, which in turn enhances the interior beauty of this Ottoman marvel. It is one of the exclusive archaeological wonders that you would not want to miss witnessing the charm of the mosque in all its glory.
Experience a Whirling Dervish show
A very unique and holistic thing to do in Istanbul or rather experience is a Sufi Dervish performance. The Whirling Dervishes are a mystical order of Sufi Islam known for their hypnotic dance performances. The sacramental act dates back to the 13th century and since then has been passed down generations. The art form is part of an Islamic tradition called the Dhikr. The purpose of the holy dance form is to exalt god and to seek spiritual perfection. Experience this unique form of devoting and feel the omnipotence of a higher power.
Take a Hot Air Balloon ride
Home to some really iconic and awe-inspiring panoramic views, Istanbul is best experienced from the sky. For a truly unforgettable experience, choose a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia and witness the surreal landscape of the fairy chimneys and underground cities with a bird’s eye view. Post the balloon ride, savour a nice hearty Turkish breakfast on a rooftop restaurant, with views of hot air balloons adorning the Cappadocian horizon.
Visit the Dolmabahce Palace
One of the most popular and influential places to visit in Istanbul is the Dolmabahce Palace. The palace dates back to the 19th century and initially served as the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire. In recent times, the Palace serves as a museum with over 50,000 relics and artefacts being put on display. The Dolmabahce Palace is a grandiose symbol of the Ottoman Empire’s mastery of crating opulent interiors, crystal chandeliers, and gold-plated ceilings.
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Go Paragliding in Oludeniz
The feeling of soaring the skies like an eagle is something every traveller out there has always dreamed about. How about we tell you where, when and how you can achieve when planning a trip to Istanbul. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, head to Oludeniz, a Mediterranean cosmopolitan that lies on the Lycian coast. One can enjoy several adventure activities like hiking, exploring ancient ruins, numerous waterfronts and the region’s scenic nightlife. However, the most important activity to undertake is a paragliding tour over the stunning Blue Lagoon and the panoramic views of the mountains.
Visit the Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern is an ancient underground water reservoir beneath the streets of Istanbul, featuring 336 unique marble columns, Medusa heads, and an eerie atmosphere. Built during the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century, it is a remarkable engineering marvel, rich in historical significance, and easily accessible by public transportation in Istanbul’s historic district. The Cistern is a must-see attraction for history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a unique and memorable trip to Istanbul.
Take a Cooking class
Experience Istanbul’s rich culinary heritage by taking a cooking class with local chefs. Learn traditional Turkish dishes, and cooking techniques, and gain a deeper understanding of the cultural significance and history of the cuisine. Cooking classes offer hands-on experience and a cultural immersion experience. You can also learn valuable cooking skills that can be applied at home while gaining a deeper appreciation for the Turkish culture. Overall, cooking classes in Istanbul are an excellent way to experience the city’s food culture, learn from experts, and indulge in a unique cultural immersion.
See a Turkish football match
Football is a national obsession in Turkey, and watching a match at the Vodafone Park Stadium is an unforgettable experience. Watching a Turkish football match in Istanbul is a special experience for anyone visiting the city. The passionate fans, high-quality football, and cultural immersion make it an unforgettable experience. The Turkish Super Liga features some of the best teams in the country, and the atmosphere in the stadium is electric. It’s a unique opportunity to learn about the traditions and history of Turkish football while experiencing the passion and excitement of the local fans. Overall, attending a Turkish football match is an excellent way to create unforgettable memories and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Visit the Galata Tower
The Galata Tower is a landmark of Istanbul’s skyline, with its panoramic views of the city and the Golden Horn. Galata Tower in Istanbul offers a unique opportunity to experience the city’s history, culture, and beauty. The medieval stone tower has a rich history and is an important landmark in Istanbul, offering stunning panoramic views of the city from its top. Visitors can learn about Istanbul’s culture and history in the historic Galata district, home to many museums, galleries, and cultural institutions. The tower also houses a restaurant and a nightclub, making it an excellent spot for dining and entertainment. Overall, Galata Tower is a must-visit attraction for anyone looking to experience the best of Istanbul.
Walk the Streets of Balat
Balat is one of Istanbul’s oldest and most bohemian neighbourhoods, known for its colourful houses, street art, and eclectic vibe. A walking tour of the area reveals the district’s hidden gems, including its well-preserved Ottoman-era buildings and traditional Turkish architecture. The area is home to a vibrant community of Jewish, Armenian, and Greek locals, providing a unique opportunity to experience Istanbul’s diverse cultural heritage. Balat is also a great spot for photography and exploration, with vintage shops and traditional restaurants serving authentic Turkish cuisine. Overall, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Istanbul.
Attend a Turkish Music concert
Attending a traditional Turkish music concert in Istanbul is a unique and immersive cultural experience. Turkish music has a long history in blending elements of different cultures and evolving over the centuries. Concerts offer a chance to listen to instruments like the oud, saz, and ney. One can enjoy live performances of traditional Turkish songs, often accompanied by dance and poetry. From classical Ottoman music to modern Turkish pop, there’s something for everyone. Attending a Turkish concert is an excellent way to appreciate Turkey’s vibrant inclusiveness and musical traditions. It’s an experience not to be missed when exploring things to do in Istanbul.
With so many unique and exhilarating things to do in Istanbul, you’ll never run out of new experiences to discover. Whether you’re a culture lover, a foodie, an adventurer, or a history buff, Istanbul has something for everyone. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable trip to this magical city.