Known to be the country’s historic, economic and cultural hub, Istanbul is also the largest city in Turkey. This imperial city of the once glorious Ottoman Empire is blessed with stunning landmarks, and exploring all of Istanbul’s nooks and corners is an experience worth having.
Whether you are a solo traveller or travelling with family or friends, you will definitely enjoy touring its various sites and feasting on its lip-smacking cuisine. Visit this eclectic city during the fall months i.e. from September to November, when the weather is spectacular, the crowds are sparse and hotel rates are quite low, making it the perfect time to visit.
Wondering where to begin? Check out our list of must-visit places of Istanbul:
1. Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque):
The historic Sultanahmet Mosque or the Blue Mosque was built during the rule of Ottoman Empire and it is definitely one of the “must visit” places of Istanbul. The mosque is flanked by 6 minarets, while the interiors are adorned by blue tiles (hence the name – Blue Mosque), making it an excellent specimen of architecture. The entrance to Sultanahmet Mosque is absolutely free, however, the mosque remains inaccessible during the ritual prayers.
2. Hagia Sophia (AyaSofya):
Built in the 6th century, Hagia Sophia is an architectural marvel that beautifully blends both the Byzantium and Ottoman cultures under one great dome. Another astonishing fact about Hagia Sophia is that it was once a church, then a mosque and now a museum!
3. Topkapi Palace:
Appearing like something straight out of a fairy tale, the Topkapi palace, is a beautiful palace in Istanbul representing the Ottoman architecture. Once a royal residence of the Ottoman Sultans, the Palace contains a huge collection of robes, weapons, porcelain, Ottoman miniatures and some significant holy antiques of the Muslim world, namely – the Prophet Muhammed’s clock and sword. Come here to enjoy the spectacular views of Bosphorus (a waterway) and Golden Horn (a water body).
4. Emirgan Park:
Emirgan Park is one of the biggest public parks of Istanbul, and it is located along the European coast of the Bosphorus, on a hill. Dotted with small waterfalls, fountains, artificial ponds, and cafes the park offers a very relaxing environment. Do not miss out the Tulip Festival hosted by Emirgan Park, if you happen to visit Istanbul in the spring months.
5. Galata Tower:
Dominating Istanbul’s skyline, Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower in Galata and one of the arresting landmarks of the region. It is here that you can ride an elevator to the top and enjoy the stunning views of Istanbul, specifically the Sultanahmet area crowned by Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
6. Grand Bazaar:
Located right in the heart of old city, Grand Bazaar is a coveted market of Istanbul. If you are a shopaholic, you simply can’t afford to miss it’s 4000 shops, and vibrant colourful streets where you can shop till you drop.
7. Cezayir Street:
If you are looking for a peaceful romantic evening, head to Cezayir or the French street, which features several French-themed restaurants, cafés and pubs located in an energetic environment surrounded by the brightly-painted neo-classical buildings.