Top 10 Things To Do in Istanbul – Turkey Travel Advice

Welcome to Istanbul! One of the busiest and most visited cities in the world. This city has countless experiences to offer, hundreds of places to see, and a million things to do. We compiled our Istanbul & Turkey travel advice and made you this little article! Here are our Top 10 things to do in Istanbul;

1. Visit the historic old town

Top 10 things to do in Istanbul

Istanbul: a city that was the capital of three great empires, the Roman, the Byzantine, and the Ottoman Empire. Each of these empires left its marks in Istanbul and decorated the city with beautiful structures. From Roman city forums to Byzantine churches and cisterns, from Ottoman palaces, mosques, and hammams to bazaars, Istanbul has dozens, if not hundreds of historical sites to offer from different eras, some of which are amongst the world’s most visited historical sites, and some of which are UNESCO sites, such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace or Suleymaniye Mosque. 

2. Try Turkish food

Top 10 things to do in Istanbul

A great deal of the tourist experience is food, and Turkey has a lot to offer when it comes to food. Turkey is mainly known for its kebabs and desserts, but there is so much more to it. Try scrumptious Turkish pastries such as pide, lahmacun, börek, gözleme, or simit. Experience the generous Turkish breakfast with small plates of different cheeses, cold-cut meats, olives, jams, pastry, and black tea, “çay“. Eat healthy home-cooked stews and forgotten Ottoman cuisine. Taste the Turkish national drink “raki” served with delicious appetizers called “meze“. Have some Turkish street food. Try uncommon desserts such as the “chicken breast pudding” or pumpkin dessert served with tahini. 


Turkish Breakfast An Absolute Feast for your Eyes and Stomach

Book a Food Tour on the Asian Side of Istanbul

3. Get a Tour Guide

Istanbul is one of the world’s most visited cities. Its famous tourist attractions, such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, and Galata Tower, attract millions annually. The ticket lines in season can take up to an hour or more (note that Istanbul has more than nine months of tourism season).

Booking a tour with a tour guide can allow you to skip horrendous ticket lines in season, save you a lot of time, and provide you with plenty of insider information and historical facts about the places you’d like to visit that you cannot find online. 

Read our articles on: 

Top 10 Guided Tours in Istanbul

What to look for when booking a tour guide

4. Get out of the historical old town

Top 10 things to do in Istanbul

Experience modern Istanbul. Visit a Turkish shopping mall. Compare prices. See the quality and price range of local Turkish textile brands that produce excellent quality textiles for reasonable prices. Go to a bar. Experience Istanbulian nightlife. Go to Galata port. Visit Istanbul Modern art exhibition. Witness modern Turkey. Visit the Asian side of Istanbul, see the contrast, and broaden your perspective. 

5. See the Bosphorus in Istanbul

You’ve come to Istanbul, the city that connects Europe to Asia, the city that spreads across two continents, the city without a center: or its center located in the middle of two continents and two seas, how do you get the best out of it in the shortest amount of time? Via Bosphorus cruise. 

Get on a boat that cruises the Bosphorus for an hour or two or more. Bosphorus tours are the #1 searched and booked tours in Istanbul. They come in many options, ranging from simple, cheap, and crowded ferry rides to more luxury private yacht tours and three-hour long night cruises with dinner and show that includes hotel pick up. 

Read our article on Bosphorus Cruises to learn more about the different types of Bosphorus Cruises and how you can pick the best one for your vacation.

Which Bosphorus tour should i take

6. Public Transport Advices in Istanbul

Public transport is highly advanced in Istanbul. In a city of 16 million residents and 39 districts, you can go anywhere with public transport. Plus, it will cost a fraction of the taxi. Istanbul has more than 10 different subway lines, including the “Marmaray” line, which passes from under the Bosphorus. On top of that, there are five different tram lines, several funicular lines, countless bus lines, minibus, ferries, Dolmuş (two-stop private taxi line), Metrobüs (public bus line that has its own pathway and does not get into traffic, works 24/7). So you don’t really need a taxi to go anywhere in Istanbul. 


Istanbul Metro Map

How to Use Public Transport in Istanbul

Top 5 Tips When Using Public Transport in Istanbul

How can I get an Istanbul card (Istanbul public transportation card)

7. Visit the Princes’ Islands – Turkey Travel Advice

Istanbul has islands! And plenty. Istanbul has nine islands called the Princes’ Islands. Five islands have a settlement, and four are accessible via ferry. Simply called the “Islands” in Turkish (Adalar), are amongst the most touristic and visually appealing destinations of Istanbul. Small in size, most of the Princes’ Islands can be circled in a few hours. Yet that means visiting all of the Princes’ Islands is at least a full-day experience. Princes’ Islands are also known for their relatively clean beaches for swimming in summer. Cycling, getting away from the city, and taking pictures of Istanbul from far away are some of the reasons to visit the Princes’ Islands. 

Book a guided tour to the Princes’ Islands

Top 10 Aerial Views of Istanbul

8. Visit the Asian Side – Turkey Travel Advice

Everybody who visits Istanbul visits the old town on the European side. However, only a handful of tourists pass the Bosphorus to see the other side of town. Making roughly half of the city, the Asian side of Istanbul also has plenty to offer. See the incredible aerial view from the highest point in urban Istanbul for example. Çamlıça hill, or Çamlıça Tower on the Asian side, offers some of the best aerial views of Istanbul. Visit Çamlıca Mosque (aka White Mosque), Turkey’s largest mosque. It is more than just a mosque. It is a huge complex that has a museum, library, conference hall, and a view garden above the city. 

The Asian side of Istanbul also has historical sites from the Ottoman Empire. Beylerbeyi Palace and Mihrimah Sultan Mosque are some of the examples in Üsküdar. The colorful streets of the Kuzguncuk neighborhood, the stunning view of the Bosphorus from Nakkaştepe public park, and the colorful streets of Kadikoy & Moda are all good reasons to visit the Asian side of Istanbul. Read more about the Asian Side of Istanbul from this article.

9. Pet the Cats

Top 10 things to do in Istanbul

Many times you see a video of cute stray cats online, you’d see the title “guess the country”. In many of those cases, that country would be Turkey. Turkey, especially Istanbul, is famous for its street cats and dogs. Feeding stray animals is a part of Turkish culture and the people’s social conscience. Istanbul is full of well-fed, chonky, and friendly street cats and dogs. You’ll notice they are comfortable around and unafraid of people. Enjoy the advantage of being in a city with cuddly street cats that are well taken care of; pet them and experience their friendliness. 

10. Visit Public Parks – Turkey Travel Advice

As a city of 16 million people and 39 districts, Istanbul naturally has plenty of decent public parks. Parks offer a get-away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city and natural beauty. Beyond its historical importance, Istanbul has stunning and unique nature, where two seas connect with a strait, and where blue meets green. Read our article on Most Beautiful Public Parks of Istanbul.


Top 10 Istanbul Old Town Tips

Istanbul Metro Map