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Things to Do in Istanbul

Want to know some of the standout things to do in Istanbul? Then have a look through our handpicked suggestions below...

1. The ‘Blue’ Mosque

The Sultanahmet Blue Mosque is one of the world’s most impressive and recognizable buildings. A major site of spiritual importance, it’s also truly stunning, dominating the skyline of the Old Town. Since it’s a functioning mosque, it’s also free to enter  – just remember to dress appropriately and take your shoes off on the way in.

2. Get Down to the Grand Bazaar

Held to be the oldest marketplace in the world, Istanbul’s Grand (or ‘Covered’) Bazaar can come as a bit of a shock to the system. One of the largest covered markets, it’s a hive of streets, shops and stalls selling all manner of pottery, spices, jewelry and, of course, carpets.

3. Have a Hamam

Istanbul’s got several traditional hamams (or Turkish baths) and the experience is an absolutely central part of life in the city. One hamam, the 300 year old Cagaloglu Hamami, featured in the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom but there are several other less prestigious ones to choose from.

4. Take in the Topkapi Palace

For sheer opulence and grandeur, the Topkapi Palace is absolutely unmissable. The palace was the spiritual and administrational heart of the great Ottoman Empire for nearly four hundred years. Now, in addition to its four astounding courtyards, it boasts great views across the Bosphorous.

5. Hang out over a Hookah

The different types of herbs, fruit extracts and varieties of tobacco you can stuff into a hookah (or ‘narghile’ as they’re known in Turkey) are practically limitless. Like the hamam, they still play an important social function in Turkish life and, as such, must be tried (at least once, anyway)!

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