Istanbul is the largest and most multifaceted city in Turkey, with a rich history and an abundance of attractions, including palaces, fortresses, dungeons, museums, observation decks, mosques, bazaars, hammams, parks and colorful places for walks, both cultural and educational, and relaxing and pacifying.
Istanbul has inherited some of the sights since the time of the sultans.
This article provides the most complete list of attractions, museums, significant objects and interesting places in Istanbul.
If you want to know only about the most important sights and main museums of the city, where you should go first of all, or if there is little time allocated for Istanbul (1-5 days), then you can see the list of the TOP sights and museums of the city here →
If you need a list of the most important and striking sights and museums of Istanbul (for 1-3 days), and(or) you do not want to try to do everything at once, but prefer to spend time measuredly, then this list can be viewed here →
There are so many different attractions in Istanbul, ranging from historical to modern, that it will not be very convenient for readers to list them all in a list. Therefore, for the convenience of orientation and familiarization with information about Istanbul, as well as the choice of places of interest to you in the city, the sights in this article are listed in separate articles and divided by topics, which contain certain objects, museums, attractions, significant places and other information that will be useful when visiting Istanbul.
You can see and visit the sights and museums of Istanbul, as well as travel outside the city on your own or with excursions, both individual and group.
All tours to and from Istanbul
Popular areas of Istanbul
Of all the districts of Istanbul, several stand out, in which almost all the sights and museums of the city are concentrated.
Also, these districts are leaders in terms of accommodation facilities (hotels, houses, apartments, etc.) for guests of the city
The main squares of Istanbul
Among the variety of squares in Istanbul, there are two major and most important squares - Taksim Square, which is a popular place among visitors to the city, and Sultanahmet Square (or Hippodrome), which is the historical heart of the city with an abundance of attractions.
Also significant is the Chamberlitash Square (Çemberlitaş Meydanı), located on the site of the former Roman Forum of Constantine.
The main pedestrian and shopping street of Istanbul - Istiklal
The most famous pedestrian shopping street in Istanbul, which attracts many tourists and locals, is Istiklal Caddesi Street.
The historic red retro tram "Nostalgia" of the T2 line runs along the street, connecting Taksim Square and Tunel, where the Beyoğlu underground funicular station is located.
Palaces of Istanbul
Palaces are singled out as a separate and one of the most important categories of Istanbul's attractions, some of which today are museums with recreated interiors, while others are adapted to the needs of the city or are in a ruined state - only parts of the palaces remain.
Mausoleums of Istanbul
Mausoleums (Türbesi) are tombs in Istanbul where sultans and their family members, as well as other representatives of the Ottoman Empire, rest.
Mausoleums in Istanbul are located mainly near mosques.
Mosques, cathedrals and churches of Istanbul
Mosques, churches and cathedrals belong to a separate category of Istanbul attractions, of which there are a huge number in Istanbul.
Fortresses, towers and defensive walls of Istanbul (Constantinople)
One of the categories of Istanbul includes towers, fortresses, walls and gates, most of which were former fortifications of the city.
Some of the former defensive structures are now museums and (or) observation decks.
Cisterns and dungeons of Istanbul
Cisterns in Istanbul have been known since the time of Constantinople (now the city of Istanbul).
Since there were very few sources of fresh water in the city (Constantinople), the inhabitants felt the need to collect and store fresh water. For these purposes, the Byzantines built a system of aqueducts (aqueducts) and cisterns (reservoirs). Through aqueducts, water was delivered to cisterns, which were open and closed, and in which fresh water was stored. There were a lot of such cistern reservoirs in the city; they were built under fortresses, palaces, rich houses and churches.
Today, some reservoirs have dried up, others have been destroyed or are in ruins, while others underground reservoirs have been converted into museums that can be visited.
In addition to museums located in former Ottoman palaces, fortresses and dungeons, there are other equally interesting museums in Istanbul.
Hammams of Istanbul - historical Turkish baths
Hammam is a common name for public baths in Turkey and other Eastern countries.
Historically, the hammam was not only a place of purification and relaxation, but also a place of meetings and communication.
Today, hammams in Turkey are an important part of the country's culture, as well as one of its business cards.
There are a large number of hamams in Istanbul (Hamamı Istanbul / Hamami Istanbul), some of which are historical. They were built during the Ottoman Empire and were visited by the sultans themselves, including Suleiman I the Magnificent and his beloved wife Roksolana (Hurrem Sultan).
Today, some historical Turkish baths have been restored and anyone can visit them.
Historical bazaars of Istanbul
Istanbul, due to its location (in Europe and Asia), has been a place of intersection of trade routes since ancient times, which still makes the city a very popular shopping destination.
Local shopping streets and markets, which are called bazaars in Istanbul, constantly attract numerous tourists, and not only those who want to make purchases, but also all those who want to get acquainted with the culture and history of the city, because the main bazaars of Istanbul are also attractions.
Among all the bazaars of Istanbul, there are several particularly visited and famous ones that are located in the city center on the main tourist routes.
Observation decks and observation points of Istanbul
One of the most visited places in Istanbul are observation decks and observation points, giving panoramic views of the city from a bird's-eye view.
Within Istanbul there are both paid viewing platforms and free viewing platforms and observation points, as well as view cafes with terraces and hotels that offer panoramas of the city.
Istanbul Parks and Gardens
Istanbul has parks and gardens of palaces, green areas, and in the vicinity of the city there is a nature reserve with a botanical garden.
Among all the parks and gardens of Istanbul, there are several particularly noteworthy and located on the main tourist routes around the city.
Some parks offer wonderful panoramic views of the urban development, the Bosphorus Strait and the Golden Horn Bay.
Golden Horn Bay
The Golden Horn (Altın Boynuz or Haliç / Halic) is a large body of water in Istanbul, which is a narrow curved bay (bay) connecting to the Bosphorus Strait at the point where the Bosphorus meets the Sea of Marmara.
Small ferries and yachts ply the Golden Horn Bay.
You can enjoy the views of the Golden Horn and its shores from the water by taking an excursion walk through the reservoirs of Istanbul or from ferries that function as public transport in Istanbul (Istanbul transport cards are valid) and connect both the shores of the Golden Horn itself and the Golden Horn with the shores of the Bosphorus. Ferry berths are located both on both shores of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Strait.
Transport and pedestrian bridges are thrown across the Golden Horn.
The most visited and famous is the two-level transport and pedestrian Galata Bridge (Galata Köprüsü) with restaurants and observation decks on the lower tier.
The Bosporus (Bosfor, Bosporus, Istanbul Boğazı / Istanbul Bogazi) is a strait in Istanbul and its surroundings, which is an intercontinental strait dividing Europe and Asia, as well as connecting the Black Sea with the Marmara.
The Bosphorus is crossed by Bosphorus bridges, and along its waters there are walking embankments, there are park areas, cafes and restaurants.
The Bosphorus is one of the main attractions of Istanbul and its "breath", filled with the cry of seagulls, the sound of waves, pleasure boats, and attractive buildings, including historical palaces, fortresses, mosques and yalas (mansions built directly on the shore), are located on both sides of the Bosphorus.
Along the Bosphorus, as well as on the waters of the Golden Horn, you can walk by ferry or with excursions.
In the waters of the Bosphorus, on a small island there is a beautiful Maiden Tower (Kız Kulesi) - a former lighthouse, which is now one of the main pearls and symbols of Istanbul.
Entertainment and family holidays in Istanbul
For families with children in Istanbul there are amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, dolphinarium, zoos, interesting museums and beaches.
Food and drinks in Istanbul
There are a huge number of restaurants and cafes in Istanbul, both with local cuisine and other cuisines of the world. There are also snack bars, kebabs, coffee shops, pastry shops, bars and other types of catering.
Trips from Istanbul (tour of Turkey)
When you have already fully enjoyed the grandeur and diversity of the city, Istanbul can be a good starting point for traveling, both in the surrounding area and more remote places from the city, and throughout Turkey.
Museum and tourist maps of Istanbul
Some palaces, museums and sites in Istanbul have museum and tourist maps.
There are different types of maps in Istanbul. Some of which give the right to visit certain museums, while others, in addition to the main museums, include excursions, as well as some shows and entertainment, public transport rides and discounts on airport transfers.
The classic and most common is the museum card "Museum Pass Istanbul" (Museum Pass Istanbul), which gives the right to enter some museums of the city. There are also more extended Istanbul E-Pass and Istanbul Tourist Pass cards, which give the right to visit museums, attractions, guided tours, an aquarium, shows, cruises along the Bosphorus, trips outside the city, etc. Learn more about museum and tourist maps of Istanbul...
Sightseeing buses in Istanbul
You can visit some of the main sights and museums of Istanbul by taking a tour on the Istanbul Hop-On Hop-Off tour bus.
Tickets for the Istanbul sightseeing bus can be purchased here →
Hotels and useful links when preparing for a train to Istanbul
All accommodation facilities in Istanbul (hotels, apartments, houses, etc.), including in the historical center, in the European and Asian parts of the city, can be viewed and booked here