5 best things to do in Istanbul

5 best things to do in Istanbul

things to do in istanbul turkey

You can follow our guide to spend an excellent trip in Istanbul or any other city or do some more extraordinary, more unique things to do in Istanbul.

Istanbul is home to some of the most famous historic sites—the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, and the Spice Market. They are stunning, important historical sites to be seen and experienced. But the city also offers a lot of fun things to do, with fewer crowds and a bit off the beaten track.

There's a lot of offbeat activities to explore and do here. Here are my 5 unique things to do in Istanbul to support you get started and make the most out of your excursion:

1- Visit the Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Istanbul

Istanbul is a city that holds well its traditions and history, integrating them into an exciting city that has a lot to give to travelers from all over the world.

Istanbul today is a multicultural city that remains faithful to its historical roots by its mosques, basilicas, cathedrals, and ancient bazaars.

Standing between East and West, Turkey's largest city provides an air of mystery and beauty that appeals to all tourists. A review of the major tourist attractions in Istanbul:

Galata Tower

galata tower istanbul

At a height of 67 meters (219 feet), the Galata Tower looks out on the skyline of Istanbul. It offers outstanding views of the old city and its environments.

Galata Tower was used for various functions while surviving throughout history. It became a prison, an observation tower, and was used for military purposes. Later, it hosted touristic functions such as a viewing terrace and restaurant as it is today. Over the centuries, the tower, which is still in the heart of the city, has changed in its appearance as its functions have changed. The roof of the tower was changed frequently, while its stone hull remained almost the same.

Read more about : Galata Tower

Camlica Hill

camlica tepesi istanbul

From 5 unique things to do in Istanbul is visiting the Camlica hill. It is situated on the Asian side, in the overhead location of Uskudar. You can reach it by ferry and then by taxi (more scenic journey) or by taxi from the European side from the Bosphorus Bridge (also exciting as you cross the only bridge connecting two continents).

The Camlica hill is the best point of view in Istanbul, as from here you watch almost the whole Bosphorus strait, as well as the entire city.

It's a loved local picnic spot, wedding place with an open air restaurant and famous gozleme (Turkish terrific pastry) eatery.

Istanbul Bakirkoy Street

Istanbul Bakirkoy Street

Istanbul Bakirkoy Street (Caddesi BAKIRKÖY İSTANBUL) is a large and beautiful commercial street. you will find there a group of retail streets, with small malls, cafes, restaurants, internet stores, and cinemas. There are also fountains and new decorations.

All you need to know about Bakirkoy in Istanbul

Visit Miniaturk

miniaturk Istanbul

Miniaturk is a miniature park located in Istanbul—and one of the biggest miniature parks in the world. In short, the park is full of small replicas of famous sights and attractions, made to a 1/25 scale. 

There are over 100 models in the park including the Obelisk of Theodosius, the Mostar Bridge, and the Hagia Eirene Church.

All you need to know about Miniaturk

Istiklal Street


The most famous street and entertainment area in Istanbul is Istiklal Street. It's a long and lively pedestrian street full of stores, bars, cafés, and street displays of all sorts. You will visit the incredible Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the great Church of St. Anthony of Padua, and the Museum of Pera there.

Read more about Istiklal Street in Istanbul

Explore Kadikoy

Kadikoy istanbul

Kadikoy in Turkish means “the Village of the Judge”. Kadikoy is one of the best places that I have ever visited. 

In This City, you will find historical buildings, markets, cultural events & arts, shopping centers, cafes, pubs and restaurants by the seaside and inland and lively nightlife especially along its famous “Bar Street” and the nearby residential suburb of beautiful Moda. It is one of the most popular and colorful districts of Istanbul. 

Many students and foreigners like to live there because it is an important transportation hub.

Read also: Kadikoy and the most important tourist attractions

Visit Ortakoy

ortakoy istanbul

Ortakoy is one of the most prominent, vibrant and attractive neighborhoods of Besikta.

Ortakoy Square and Ortakoy Mosque are the centers of Ortakoy. Street markets are also prevalent in Ortakoy. Visitors will enjoy and purchase a range of handicrafts, souvenirs, second-hand books, a variety of beautiful things, and more.

Ortakoy is also known for its coastal tea gardens, cafés, and bakers overlooking Bosphorus. Many residents like to buy baked potatoes from various cafes and eat them with the stunning views of the Bosphorus.

Topkapi Palace

topkapı palace

Topkapi Palace is one of Istanbul's must-see attractions, mixing heritage and beautiful landscapes.

Topkapı Palace is located in one of the oldest historical regions of Istanbul. Located on the historical Istanbul peninsula between the Marmara Sea, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, the palace is one of the iconic structures of Istanbul. 

Topkapı Palace, established on an area of 700,000 square meters on the Eastern Roman acropolis in Sarayburnu, was the administrative, educational and artistic center of the empire for approximately four hundred years from Fatih Sultan Mehmet to the 31st Sultan Abdülmecid, as well as housing the dynasty. 

Although Topkapı Palace was gradually abandoned by the mid-19th century when the dynasty slowly moved to Dolmabahçe Palace, it preserved its historical importance and value.

Go to the Prince Islands


This chain of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul offers a rare diversion from the crowds. A simple day trip during the warm months, the islands are just a fast ferry ride away from the city. 

Most travelers visit the four larger islands (Büyükada, the largest and most famous, Burgazada, Heybeliada, and Kinaliada). You can visit old houses, eat at delicious cafés, and see lovely homes while you stroll around.

What makes these islands unique is that no vehicles are permitted on the islands, making them safe and calm and a welcome escape from the noise of the area. You can get around by walking, by bike, or by horse and carriage.

5 Tips To Living Like A Local In Istanbul

Take a Ferry

bosfor tour

A perfect way to visit this big city is by sea. You'll see many vessels selling paying trips to the Bosphorus, but if you want to save money and have more freedom, take a daily ferry trip instead. 

You will pass the Topkapi Fortress, the Bosphorus Bridge, magnificent mansions, mosques with huge minarets, other castles and palaces, and more. 

2- Visiting the huge malls of Istanbul

Istanbul is famous for its vast malls and world-famous shopping centers. Most of the malls in Istanbul are easily accessible by metro or public transportation, child-friendly and not far from touristic areas such as Sultanahmet or Taksim (except Mall of Istanbul).

10 Best Shopping Malls in Istanbul 2021

3- Weekly Street Markets (Pazars) in Istanbul

For any budget and style, Istanbul has everything. Another fun and alternative to the best shopping in Istanbul is also the street markets. Visitors will spend a few hours in the beautiful crowd and nostalgia of Istanbul's street markets and find a range of objects, food, and merchandise. It is an inexpensive way of shopping as well.

The regular street markets of Istanbul held on the popular districts:

Monday Market in Bahcelievler

Tuesday Market in Kadikoy

Wednesday Market in Bostanci, Fatih, Yesilkoy and Ihlamur

Thursday Market in Etiler, Merter, Erenkoy, Ortakoy and Suadiye

Friday Market in Findikzade and Uskudar

Saturday Market in Bakirkoy, Besiktas and Ferikoy

Sunday Market in Kucukcekmece

4- Enjoy a wonderful Turkish bath and sauna

In its promotion of personal hygiene and washing, the Turkish hammam is a spiritually essential practice consistent with Islamic nature. Turkish hammam takes the personality aspect out of the equation, unlike prevalent bathing practices.

The Turkish bath in Istanbul has a story and history, rituals, and benefits, which explains the presence of more than 10 thousand baths in Istanbul alone.

Read about: Turkish Hammam: 4 Health Benefits of the Ancient Bathing Ritual

5- Visit the wonderful restaurants and cafes of Istanbul

As with every tourist system globally, tourists love to eat and discover new dishes. 

In Turkey, we recommend you try different types of food, from "pide" which is a Turkish pizza, to kebabs, grills and traditional dishes "minman, manti, iskandar ... and others".

The most famous restaurants in Istanbul are :




You can find restaurants and cafes of all kinds on every street corner and also malls. 

Read about: The 3 most famous restaurants in Istanbul