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Top 7 Things to Do in Istanbul – the City Where East Meets West

Istanbul Bosphorus
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Istanbul is a magnificent city that connects East and West, two continents, and two totally different cultures. It’s the largest city that lies on two continents and the most beautiful one for sure. There are layers and layers of history and culture to be explored — everything in Istanbul tells a story. If you’re thinking about traveling to this awesome city, keep reading – we bring you the top 7 things to do in Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque and Its Surroundings

The Blue Mosque is a historical mosque in Istanbul, but unlike world-renowned Hagia Sophia, this one serves as an actual mosque. This famous religious building is known as the Blue Mosque because of its blue tiles surrounding the walls of interior design. The Blue Mosque is an absolute must-see, but be sure to explore its amazing surroundings as well, since there are plenty of historical buildings, monuments, and museums around it.

For the best insight into this historical area explore our Cultural Places platform, and the mobile tour “The Blue Mosque and Its Surroundings” and find our audio guide that will tell you everything you need to know and more. You will learn a little about the Blue Mosque itself, but also about the following places in its surroundings:

  • Firuz Agha Mosque
  • German Fountain
  • The Hippodrome
  • Obelisk of Theodosius
  • The Tomb of Sultan Ahmed II, and more.

Also, we recommend you check out our previous blog post, for more details about this wonderful mosque: “A Brief History of the Blue Mosque: One of Istanbul’s Most Iconic Landmarks

7 Reasons to Visit Istanbul

The Blue Mosque — one of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks
© Pixabay / cc0

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) is one of the most important monuments both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires, and one of the most interesting religious buildings in the world. When it was built back in the 6th century by Emperor Constantine the Great, it was meant to be an Orthodox Church, which it was until the 15th century, when it was turned into the Ottoman mosque. In 1935 it was established as a museumand in 2020, just recentlyit reopened as a mosque again.

7 Reasons to Visit Istanbul

Hagia Sophia — one of the most important monuments both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires
© Pixabay / cc0

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace is a magnificent building that served as a home to the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years. It was built in the 15th century by the sultan Mehmet II on top of a hill, on a small peninsula, and was upgraded a little by every sultan that lived there. Even though you cannot explore the whole palace, you can see the Harem which might be the most beautiful part of it.

You can find a tour around this wonderful place on our Cultural Places platform, too: “Topkapı Palace and Its Surroundings

7 Reasons to Visit Istanbul

The interior of the Topkapi Palace
© Pixabay / cc0

Bosphorus Cruise

Istanbul is a city that lies on two continents, and on the place where Europe and Asia meet, the city is split by aquamarine waters of the Bosphorus channel that is linking the Black Sea and with the Sea of Marmaris. Taking a Bosphorus cruise is one of the best ways of experiencing the beauty of Istanbul – definitely an experience that you shouldn’t miss.

7 Reasons to Visit Istanbul

Bosphorus cruise — an experience that you shouldn’t miss
© Pixabay / cc0

Turkish Baths

Turkish baths – or hammams that became popular in the 6th century, are the place of cleanliness, for purifying body and soul. Those were the places meant for socializing and even celebrating some important life events. Today, they’re mostly meant for relaxation, and we must tell you – they’re great, especially in Istanbul.

7 Reasons to Visit Istanbul

The Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami
© Navjot SinghCC BY-SA 2.0

Extraordinary Bazaars

If you like shopping you simply must visit the Grand Bazaar that is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops. Also, you will love the Spice Bazaar – the most colorful bazaar in the city where you can find all the spices you can imagine, as well as other Turkish delights.

7 Reasons to Visit Istanbul

Grand Bazaar — one of the oldest covered markets in the world
© Pixabay / cc0

7 Reasons to Visit Istanbul

Spice Bazaar — a place where you’ll find any spice you can think of
© Pixabay / cc0

Food

When you think of Turkish food you probably think of kebab or döner kebab, but there are so many other tasty dishes that you must try. We recommend yaprak sarma – grape, cabbage, or chard leaves filled with minced meat or rice, börek – layers of thin dough filled with minced meat, spinach or seasoned potatoes or different kinds of köfte (meatballs). Also, you shouldn’t miss some of the famous sweets such as baklava or halva – delicious.

If you’re wondering where to eat don’t worry – the food is everywhere you look around. There are so many little restaurants, food stands, and cafes or tea shops where you can try traditional foods and drinks.

7 Reasons to Visit Istanbul

Börek
© Pixabay / cc0

7 Reasons to Visit Istanbul

Baklava
© Pixabay / cc0

Istanbul is one beautiful city, with so many great sights for you to explore. It offers a unique cultural experience that you’ll never forget. We mentioned only our favorite sights and experiences but trust us – there is so much to see that you’ll spend days just wandering around this amazing metropolis and enjoying the views and delicious Turkish food. Just take your time and enjoy it — it will leave you breathless.

Before you actually get to visit Istanbul, we recommend you explore our Cultural Places platform and find our tours around this gorgeous city. We’d especially recommend the tour “The Blue Mosque and Its Surroundings” — it’s now available in English and German.

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The Blue Mosque and Its Surroundings

The famous Blue Mosque is definitely a must-see on your trip! Use it as a starting point to discover the area…

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