12 Things to do in Istanbul

12 things to do in istanbul


Hello! It’s been almost three months as we returned from Istanbul and I finally managed to write and tell you about my 12 things to do in Istanbul.

Istanbul is a whole different world. It is nothing like any other place we’ve ever been.

This place is filled with interesting and compelling history, amazingly delicious food, and so many gorgeous places to see. I guess there’s something for everyone there – historical buildings, museums, so many places for the foodie in you.

You can wander all day and feel the oriental spirit. It is a feeling I can’t really explain.


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We spent 3 days there but they were not full. We traveled by car so we arrived there at noon the first day and we went back on the third day at noon. So you can do the math.

We picked these things and places in a no particular order or because someone told us, we just decided they are worth seeing.

  • Hagia Sophia

This is a place you should definitely visit there. It is majestic. Hagia Sophia was a cathedral, then it became a mosque, and now it is a museum. It was built in 537 AD and the one thing that was famous for was its amazing and massive dome. It was known to be the world’s largest building. People say this building changed the history of architecture.


hagia sophia


  • Blue Mosque

This mosque is also called Sultan Ahmed Mosque and it is something that is worth to be seen. It is huge and really beautiful. The Blue Mosque is still a mosque. It was built between 1609 and 1616. It was at the time Ahmed was ruling. This place is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is interesting to know that its name comes from the outside architecture because if you walk inside you won’t see even a hint of blue. Most traditional mosques have one, two or four minarets but the Blue Mosque have six which makes it the most special one there.


Related: Your 5 Day Guide to the Magnificent Barcelona


  • Topkapi Palace

Topkapi’s construction began in 1459. After the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1921 Topkapi Palace was transformed and became Topkapi museum. It is interesting to know that Topkapi is the largest and oldest palace in the world to survive the modern world. This palace was the heart and the brain of the Ottoman Empire. There were 1000 members of the staff of the kitchen and they were making 6 000 meals per day. It is really impressive!

  • Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce means “The Filled Garden” . It is a magical place you should definitely visit. It is built in 19th century and there are 14 tons of gold leaves used. It has the traditional Ottoman architecture. You will love it!

  • Egyptian Obelisk

This Obelisk was transported several times before reaching out its place in Istanbul. This Egyptian Obelisk is also know as the Obelisk of Thutmosis III. It was built in 15th century. The Obelisks in Egypt were made to honor special events or victories.


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  • Grand Bazaar

This place is BIG, you can definitely get lost in there. The Grand Bazaar  is a market in the heart of Istanbul. It one of the biggest and largest markets. There are more than a thousand shops which cover 60 streets. It is really impressive. The market opened in 1461 and it has a really rich history. I believe you can find EVERYTHING there.


grand bazaar


  • Spice Bazaar

This was actually the first bazaar we saw. You can find so much interesting things there – soaps, spices, different kinds of tea, perfumes, and other souvenirs. We had a really bad experience there. One guy from a shop pulled me inside and started putting different treat in my mouth and at the end he tried to lie us about the final price. We argued and took some of the things and we left but it gave me a bad feeling so be careful.


spice bazaar


  • Galata Tower

The Galata Tower is also called Christea Turris by the Genoese. It is a stone tower in the Galata quarter of Istanbul. It was built in 1348. The tower was first used for defense purposes and a part of a communication system. Fires were fired on the top of the tower to send messages on long distances. After that the Ottomans made it a prison. There are so many interesting stories about that tower.


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  • Take the ferry through the Bosphorus

This could be an amazing and refreshing adventure. From the water you can see all the beauty of Istanbul. The view is breathtaking.  The trip from one point to another is somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes. It is a must to do it. You can take boat to go through the Bosphorus but we decided to try it the next we go.


ferry through the bosphorus


  • Enjoy the beauty of the tulips

If you go in April you will be able to really see how covered in tulips the whole Istanbul is. But the best place to find tulips is in front of the Hagia Sophia and in the gorgeous gardens in Dolmabahce Palace. The gardens of the palace were magnificent. You can take a relaxing walk and be surrounded by different colored tulips. It was magical.


tulips dolmabahce palace


  • Take a food tour

This was one of my favorite things to do in Istanbul. You can try their street food, especially their doners.

They are famous about their ‘baklava’ desserts, which are to die for. So many different kinds you can hardly choose. I love them. We have them in Bulgaria but Istanbul’s baklava is way better. I am in love with that dessert.




You can also try the Turkish delight.

But if you want something salty definitely find ‘guzleme’ or ‘banitsa’. The pastry is fantastic.


  • Turkish coffee or tea

If you are a coffee or a tea lover be sure to check theirs. Be prepared for a strong taste. It is definitely something different from the ones I’ve tried all over Europe. While you wonder the streets of Istanbul you are going to be invited by many Turkish people for a drink because they are super friendly.


Related: A Guide to the Netherlands


I hope I already inspired you to consider a trip to Istanbul? If you want to get the best prices for your stay check here!

If you are a first timer in Istanbul or you only have limited to discover the area these are the top 12 things you should consider doing. But if you wish to spend more time to explore the beauty of the city check this AMAZING city guide!

It is going to be a great adventure!


With love,



2 thoughts on “12 Things to do in Istanbul”

  • I first read about Istanbul in Dan Brown’s book Inferno, and it made it sound like a fascinating place. When I get around to planning a trip there, this guide will be super helpful! Until then, at least I can look at your lovely photos of the places I’ve read about.

    • It is such an interesting and different kind of place. There’s certainly some magic there. You will love it. 💗

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