Guides Istanbul 20 Iconic Places You Must See in Istanbul in 2024

20 Iconic Places You Must See in Istanbul in 2024

City Guide April 11, 2024



The past and present collide in Istanbul to provide a unique blend of history, culture, and modern vibrancy that's unmatched worldwide. With its ancient monuments, bustling bazaars, and breathtaking natural beauty, Istanbul promises an unforgettable and awe-inspiring adventure. From its mosques' grandeur to the Bosphorus's serenity, here’s your guide to the 20 best things to do in Istanbul that you must see in 2024.

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The Must-See List

1. Hagia Sophia

A monumental achievement of Byzantine architecture, the Hagia Sophia, with its massive dome and stunning mosaics, narrates Istanbul’s complex history. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum, it’s a place where different cultures and religions converge.


2. Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque)

Famed for its exquisite blue tiles and grand scale, the Blue Mosque embodies the beauty of Ottoman architecture. During prayer time, the mosque is incredibly majestic and offers an insight into Istanbul's spiritual life.


3. Topkapı Palace

This opulent palace, once the residence of Ottoman sultans, showcases the lavish lifestyle of the empire’s elite. With its beautiful courtyards, impressive treasury, and stunning views of the Golden Horn, Topkapı Palace is a must-visit.


4. Grand Bazaar

A labyrinth of excitement, the Grand Bazaar teems with over 4,000 shops selling everything from spices to intricate carpets. It’s a place where the art of bargaining is alive, and hidden treasures await at every turn.


5. Spice Bazaar

Dive into the sensory overload of the Spice Bazaar, where colors and scents create a mesmerizing atmosphere. A paradise for food enthusiasts, it’s the go-to place for authentic Turkish spices, sweets, and teas.


6. Galata Tower

This medieval stone tower offers some of the best panoramic views of Istanbul. Climbing to the top of Galata Tower is like stepping into a postcard, with the city’s historical and modern aspects spread out below.


7. Basilica Cistern

Explore the depths of Istanbul by visiting the Basilica Cistern. This ancient underground water reservoir feels like stepping into another world with its eerie atmosphere and rows of illuminated columns.


8. Feriköy Flea Market

A paradise for vintage lovers, the Feriköy Flea Market is the spot for eclectic finds, from retro fashion to antique collectibles. It’s a weekend treasure trove for bargain hunters and nostalgia seekers.



9. Taksim Square

The pulse of modern Istanbul beats strongest in Taksim Square, a bustling hub where the city’s youthful energy is palpable. From street food to live music, Taksim is the start of any night out in the city.


10. Süleymaniye Mosque

Overlooking the Golden Horn, the Süleymaniye Mosque combines stunning architecture with spiritual tranquility. Its courtyard offers a peaceful retreat, and the surrounding gardens are a testament to Ottoman landscaping art.


11. Dolmabahçe Palace

Marvel at the European and Ottoman blend of architecture at Dolmabahçe Palace, which reflects the opulence of the late Ottoman era. Its grandeur and sophistication, especially the ceremonial hall, are simply unparalleled.


12. Istanbul Archaeology Museums

These museums are a haven for history enthusiasts. They are filled with artifacts that span centuries and continents. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums offer a profound insight into the civilizations that shaped this region.


13. Chora Church (Kariye Museum)

Chora Church is renowned for its breathtaking Byzantine mosaics and frescoes, which tell stories of Christianity with stunning clarity and color. It’s a spiritual and artistic gem tucked away in the heart of Istanbul.


14. Bosphorus Strait

The Bosphorus Strait divides Europe and Asia and offers magnificent views of Istanbul’s skyline. A cruise here is essential for any visitor, showcasing the city’s historic and modern sides.


15. Galata Bridge

Linking Istanbul’s historic and modern districts, the Galata Bridge is more than a crossing point; it’s a place of lively fishing, dining, and an excellent spot to watch the sunset over the Golden Horn.


16. Istanbul Modern

As the hub of Turkey’s modern art scene, Istanbul Modern is a must for contemporary art lovers. The museum offers a compelling look at Turkey’s artistic evolution, presenting works that challenge and inspire.


17. Çamlıca Hill

For the best views of the city, head to Çamlıca Hill. It’s an ideal spot for those looking to capture the vastness of Istanbul in a single glance, with the Bosphorus stretching out beneath.


18. The Walls of Constantinople

These ancient walls tell the tale of a city that was, for centuries, the envy of the world. Walking along the Walls of Constantinople is a journey through history, offering insights into Istanbul’s strategic significance.



19. Princes’ Islands

Escape the city’s hustle for the serene beauty of the Princes’ Islands. With their charming Victorian houses and car-free roads, they offer a peaceful retreat and a glimpse into Istanbul’s quieter side.


20. Miniaturk

A delightful overview of Turkey’s historical and architectural wonders, Miniaturk features miniature replicas of famous sites. It’s an entertaining and educational experience, perfect for families or anyone short on time.


Tips for Exploring Istanbul

  • Luggage Storage: Lighten your adventure by storing your luggage. Nannybag offers convenient locations around the city, including Taksim Square luggage storage, making exploration hassle-free.
  • Transport: Utilize Istanbul’s efficient public transport to navigate the city. For scenic routes, take a ferry and enjoy the city from its waters.
  • Timing: Plan visits to popular sites like Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds, and remember prayer times when visiting mosques.
  • Local Cuisine: Istanbul’s food scene is as diverse as its heritage. Indulge in local delicacies like baklava, Turkish delight, kebabs, and traditional teas and coffees.

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