AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN ISTANBUL!
Istanbul has always been very intriguing to me as this beautiful city straddles over two continents, one part in Europe and the other part in Asia, which is divided by the Bosphorus Strait.
The Old City reflects influences of ancient empires and many historic sites can be discovered in the Sultanahmet district such as the Roman-era Hippodrome, Egyptian obelisks and the iconic Hagia Sophia 6th-century dome.
There are countless things to do in Istanbul so I have narrowed it down to 5 absolute must-see locations to add to your Istanbul itinerary.
Have you got travel insurance for Turkey? I know that nobody likes to talk about this stuff but accidents can happen and having World Nomads Insurance can save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong.
WHERE IS ISTANBUL & HOW TO GET THERE
Istanbul is a major city in Turkey which is located in South-Eastern Europe. The population of Istanbul is 15 million.
There are many ways of reaching Istanbul, though the most common means is by plane or train.
Istanbul International Airport is very well connected with daily flights from inside of Europe and also international arrivals from Asia and the Middle East. I always use SkyScanner to search and book all of my flights as they generally have the cheapest rates.
Search All ∼ Flights to Istanbul on Skyscanner.com
Arriving in Istanbul by train is the next best option of reaching this beautiful city in Turkey. Daily trains operate in and out of Halkali Station, connecting Istanbul from other major cities in Eastern Europe such as Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to name a few.
Traveling around Europe by train is one of the best ways to get around at an affordable cost. I highly recommend purchasing a Eurail Pass to make the most out of your Europe trip. There are many different passes available which give you access to the majority of trains, buses and boats within 31 countries in Europe!
Click Here to get your Eurail Pass today!
5 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN ISTANBUL
#1 GALATA TOWER
Galata Tower is a standout landmark located in Galata Quarter and it is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul.
Galata Tower stands an impressive 9 stories tall and offers the best views of the city. This cylindrical tower with a pointed roof reminds me of Rapunzel’s castle out of the popular fairy tale story.
The top of Galata Tower plays home to a restaurant and nightclub with a 360-degree walk-around balcony.
As Galata Tower is one of the most popular Istanbul tourist places, you’ll want to get there early on in the day to avoid the crowds. Galata Tower is the busiest in the afternoon around sunset, so you can expect long queues to enter the tower at this time.
Galata Tower Entrance Fee: 25 Lira ($4.50)
Galata Tower – Things to do in Istanbul
Galata Tower – Istanbul what to do
#2 HAGIA SOPHIA
Next up on this list of awesome things to do in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia, a 6th-century dome that was built in 537 AD. Once a Greek Orthodox Cathedral, later an Ottoman Imperial Mosque and now a popular museum in Istanbul that draws in visitors from around the globe.
On the inside of Hagia Sophia, you can expect to see impressive mosaics, ancient calligraphy and Sultan’s lodge.
The Hagia Sophia Museum is open every day of the week from 9 am to 5 pm.
Hagia Sofia Entrance Fee: 60 Lira ($10.50) or 80 Lira to get a guide and skip the queue.
Hagia Sophia Istanbul – Things to do in Istanbul
#3 GRAND BAZAAR
The Grand Bazaar is an absolute must on your list of things to do in Istanbul! Grand Bazaar is the largest covered market place in the world, with more than 60 streets and over 4000 shops, you are guaranteed to walk away with a few trinkets and souvenirs!
Spend an hour or two getting lost in the labyrinth of alleyways and put your bartering skills to the test with store merchants to get the best bang for your buck.
The Grand Bazaar is open from Monday to Saturday, between the hours of 9 am and 7 pm.
Grand Bazaar – Things to do in Istanbul
#4 BLUE MOSQUE ISTANBUL
The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a historic landmark in the old town and it’s one of the best places to visit in Istanbul.
Many tourists frequent the Blue Mosque in Istanbul on a daily basis to marvel at its sheer beauty on the inside and out.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque stills functions to this day as men come to kneel inside the mosque at the time of prayer. Five times during the day, loud sounds of prayer echo through the air, bellowing from the speakers mounted on the tall minarets. When this happens, tourists and non-worshippers are asked to leave the mosque until the prayer is over.
You must dress appropriately to enter inside the Blue Mosque Istanbul. The required dress code is long pants, covered shoulders, headscarves for women and shoes must be removed.
Blue Mosque Istanbul Entrance Fee: FREE
Blue Mosque Istanbul – Fun things to do in Istanbul
Sultan Ahmed Mosque – Places to visit in Istanbul
Blue Mosque Istanbul – Things to do in Istanbul
#5 TURKISH BATH
A Turkish bath, also known as a Hammam, is one of the weirdest but also one of the best things to do in Istanbul! A Hammam is a place of public bathing, so be prepared to be butt naked around others. You may or may not like it, but I assure you that it’s an experience you’ll never forget!
A visit to a Turkish bath will leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed and cleaner than ever as you will have your body scrubbed and massaged by a man or woman, depending on your sex.
My recommendation is to find a reputable and good quality Hammam to ensure that you are treated with the best of service and the overall hygiene is up to scratch.
I personally visited the Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami which is located in the Karakoy district, close to Galata Tower.
Turkish Bath Entrance Fee: 250 Lira ($44)
Turkish Bath – Istanbul what to do
Istanbul has thousands of accommodation options to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of my personal favorite places to stay in Istanbul to fit the needs of budget backpackers and luxury travelers. See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
Mid Range: The Galata Port Hotel
Budget: Suite Dreams Istanbul Hostel
For all other accommodations in Istanbul, Click Here to search on Booking.com
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Barcelona Itinerary: 2 Day Barcelona Itinerary
Istanbul Travel Guide: 5 Things To Do In Istanbul
Sofia Travel Guide: 3 Things To Do In Sofia
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WHAT TO PACK FOR ISTANBUL
Everyday Backpack: One of the best backpacks on the market! The Nomatic 20L Backpack is perfect for on the go adventures. Featuring multiple storage spaces for valuables, drink bottles, chargers, notebooks and more. This sleek backpack was designed for you.
Universal Power Adapter: Don’t leave home without one! I highly recommend getting this Universal Power Adapter so that you are able to charge all of your electronics when you’re on the road. Compatible in Asia, UK, Europe, Africa, USA, SA and Australia.
Hidden Money Belt: I never go on a trip without one! The best thing is they are always out of sight, hidden beneath your clothing. With RFID blocking, they are perfectly designed to keep your credit cards, cash and other valuables safe when you’re out adventuring!
Waterproof Phone Case: A waterproof phone case is a must-have item! This universal case will keep your phone safe from water damage, sand and scratches during your adventures. Suitable for all smartphone models.
Portable Charger: One of the best portable chargers on the market! The Anker Power Bank keeps your phone and accessories charged on those longer adventures. Featuring 2 USB charging ports, rechargeable battery, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Oppo and Android.
Microfibre Travel Towel: To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? A standard bathroom towel can take up a lot of space in your travel bag. Get your hands on a quick-dry Microfibre Travel Towel which is perfect for the beach, backpacking, camping and general traveling.
Rain Jacket: A light-weight rain jacket is an absolute must when traveling! North Face waterproof rain jackets come in both men and women sizes, featuring a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.
Kindle: The best alternative for books! Kindle e-readers are perfect for long haul flights, reading on the beach or a quiet evening away from the bars. Kindle’s are waterproof with rechargeable batteries and adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions.
Packing Cubes: My favorite item in my backpack! Perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear and more. This 5 Set Packing Cubes makes packing easier and more efficient, adding extra space in your bag for your next trip.
Activated Charcoal Tablets: Want to avoid food poisoning? Most of us have been a victim of travelers diarrhea from eating street food. Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets are fast-acting and will rid your system of the bad bacteria that causes stomach upset.
MY CAMERA GEAR
Everyday Camera: The most affordable mirrorless camera on the market! I personally use the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera on all of my adventures. It’s compact, lightweight and super easy to use for all levels of photography. A 28-70mm Sony lens is also included.
Drone Camera: Take your photography to new heights! The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone is at the top of the game when it comes to high-quality images and video, easy to control functions and traveler-friendly capabilities. I guarantee you won’t regret purchasing one.
GoPro Hero 8: One of the most popular cameras on the planet! I love using the GoPro Hero 8 for all of my underwater shots and fast-paced adventures. The GoPro Hero 8 captures the best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use!
Camera Bag: My favorite camera bag I have ever owned! The Lowepro Protactic 450 AW II Camera Bag features a waterproof rain cover, drink bottle holder, padded compartments for cameras, drones, lenses, accessories and it also has a laptop pocket.
Selfie Stick: Everyone loves a good selfie, right!? The Sandmarc Metal Edition Selfie Stick is sleek, stylish and can extend to 1.2m. I find it much easier to take photos and videos with the GoPro when it is mounted to the Sandmarc Selfie Stick!
Camera Tripod: The Joby GorillaPod is suitable for all cameras. This tripod is easy to use and perfect for setting up a time-lapse video or even using it as a selfie stick. The legs are flexible so you can wrap it around a tree or a pole to get creative with your shot.
GoPro Dome: Have you ever wanted to capture those under/over water shots with the GoPro? This epic underwater GoPro dome housing is the best camera accessory to have to create the perfect 50/50 shot. I use mine every time I am in the ocean!
Memory Card: The best thing about SanDisk Extreme Pro is that it delivers maximum speed for images and videos. Having 64GB of storage means that you can store hundreds of files on this SD card for 2-3 days and not have to worry about running out of space.
External Hard Drive: As a photographer, my images and video files take up a lot of space on my MacBook so I use the WD Elements External Hard Drive to store everything. With 4TB worth of storage space, this is more than enough for 1 year worth of content.
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Before you go from this things to do in Istanbul post, don’t forget to check out My Online Shop!
I’ve got a wide range of digital products for sale and I’m sure you’ll find something that will come in handy during your travels!
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FINAL THOUGHTS OF WHAT TO DO IN ISTANBUL
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions about Things To Do In Istanbul, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can!
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