Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey that spans two continents, truly is a place where East meets West; on the one side of the Bosporus Strait lies Europe, and on the other side, Asia. With a population of more than 15 million, it is also the most populous city in Turkey and Europe.Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul has a rich and colorful past. Due to its important geographical location, the city has served as an imperial capital for many a great empire, such as the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. Therefore, it has become an influential historical, economic, and cultural hub; it’s even been a part of the Silk Road! This vast city is home to a plethora of cultural attractions. There are many excellent locations to explore in Istanbul, especially the magnificent historical architecture scattered throughout the city. Other than sightseeing, you can participate in many different activities, such as visiting the many museums, cruising on the Bosporus, shopping, dining, and spending evenings out. With millions of foreign visitors every year, Istanbul is one of the most visited cities in the world. The city is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites and was named the European Capital of Culture by the European Union in 2010. Istanbul is one of the top 5 tourist cities in the world.
Istanbul has a lot of exciting sights and attractions to visit and see. Arranging Istanbul tours might be time-consuming because the city is enormous, and many landmarks are everywhere. The good news is that we have provided you with a shortlist of must-visit tourist attractions in Istanbul!
Built approximately 1500 years ago, Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) is one of the world’s most remarkable structures. It is located in the Sultanahmet area, on the shores of the city’s western district. Formerly a church and a museum, it has recently regained its function as a mosque; therefore, entry to Hagia Sophia is free. With its remarkable architecture, rich history, religious significance, and beautiful artworks and mosaics, the Hagia Sofia will surely be on every tourist’s bucket list.
Topkapi Palace, located on a triangular point overlooking the Bosporus and Golden Horn in the Sultanahmet district, is a beautiful oriental palace and one of the world’s wealthiest museums. From the 15th century through the mid-nineteenth century, it was the palace of the Ottoman Sultans. It is one of the city’s major tourist attractions, with four courtyards, terraces with breathtaking views, and priceless artifacts in the Imperial Treasury.
Istiklal Street is Istanbul’s renowned pedestrian street and entertainment district in the Taksim neighborhood. Named after Turkey declared Republic in 1923 (meaning Independence), Istiklal is a long, colorful avenue with various stores, cinemas, theatres, boutiques, restaurants, cafés, pubs, street entertainment, mixed with historical buildings of different architectural styles, and even a nostalgic tram going through it!
In recent years, the Boulevard has become the focus of fine arts and leisure in Istanbul, with venues surrounding it hosting various international art events, including the annual Istanbul Film Festival.
Basilica Cistern is one of the city’s most stunning and magical landmarks. This structure was built during the 6th century CE as the largest cistern beneath Istanbul. It is enormous, and more than 300 columns support the ceiling of the cistern. The columns have many variations, but the two Medusa Heads, which serve as supports beneath two columns on the cistern’s northwest side, are the most interesting. The cistern has been chosen several times as the location for several movies, including the 1963 James Bond movie.
Galata Tower, a historic Greek tower overlooking the city, was built in the 14th century. It is located in the Galata area in the Beyoğlu district and is of the iconic structures of Istanbul and a symbolic landmark of Turkey. In recent years, the tower has become a museum and an exhibition, and visitors can enjoy a fantastic panoramic view of Istanbul, the Golden Horn, and the Bosporus from the top.
Galata Tower Museum and its surroundings are well-known for their social events and busy cultural scene. Galata has everything from historical monuments to commercial areas, restaurants, and cafés.
Sea Life Istanbul is the world’s 5th largest aquarium and amusement complex in the Bayrampasa district’s Forum Shopping Center. This mega aquarium has 47 exhibit tanks and about 15,000 aquatic species, including clownfish, turtles, jellyfish, seahorses, and sharks. It is an excellent place for families who want to spend their time walking in Europe’s longest ocean tunnel, observing and interacting with the different sea creatures. The aquarium has many areas designed with specific purposes: thematic zones for various sea creatures, pools, ocean caves, the Turtle Hospital, children’s play area, and many more.
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Steps to stay safe during your travel