What is famous in Istanbul? 18 best things to do in Istanbul

The best things to do in Istanbul attract curious travelers from all over the world. Home to well-preserved Ottoman palaces and Byzantine buildings, along with stylish skyscrapers and shopping malls, Istanbul is full of unique culture and modern twists.

Istanbul has an extensive metro system, with important places usually within a few stops of each other. There are also many lively shopping areas that offer dining, shopping and nightlife opportunities for visitors of all ages. Exploring this huge city can be understandably daunting for first-timers, so we’ve compiled a rundown of Istanbul’s most popular tourist attractions to fit your itinerary.

What are the best things to do in Istanbul?

Sultanahmet Square

The town square with the ruins of an old hippodrome as well as famous and historical buildings nearby. The square also hosts historical artifacts such as the Knitted Obelisk, Theodosius Obelisk, the German Fountain, the Serpent Column, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.

Knitted Obelisk: The 32-meter obelisk is made of rough cut stone VII. It was built by Constantine.

Theodosius Obelisk: M.S. Moved to its present location in the 4th century BC. Egyptian stela with hieroglyphs from the 1400s.


German Fountain: The fountain, which was built in 1898, is decorated with mirrors and flower motifs, and has elaborate engravings.

Serpent Column: Bronze column from Ancient Greece, built to commemorate a historical war and where snake heads fell.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque: The famous mosque built in 1616, including the tomb of its architect.

Sultan Ahmet Park: Paths lined with palm trees, ornamental pools, food vendors, impressive mosque and tomb views.

Gulhane Park

gulhane parki

A peaceful, wooded, historical park with its gardens, paths, stream and science museum.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Sarayi

Huge and rich 15th century palace, where sultans lived for 400 years and housed Ottoman treasures.

Hagia Sophia Museum


Spacious, domed former Byzantine church and museum with stunning mosaics depicting scenes from the Bible in the mosque.

Historical bazaars

Grand Bazaar: A network of large, historical, covered market streets where leather, jewelery and souvenirs are sold.

Egyptian Bazaar: Spices, food and clothing are sold in the 17th century covered bazaar known as the Spice Bazaar.

Shopping Centers

There are hundreds of shopping malls to visit in Istanbul. You can find additional articles below, which we have listed the best and the ones for you:

Galata Tower

galata kulesi 1

Restored 5th century tower and old dungeon overlooking the Bosphorus with its restaurant on the top floor.

galata kulesi 2

Maiden’s Tower

kiz kulesi

The building, which is the subject of legend, used to be a lighthouse and houses a small museum and restaurant.

Haya Irini

Former 4th century Byzantine Orthodox Church serving as a museum.

Historical baths

Çemberlitaş Hamam: Turkish bath complex dating back to 1584 with its pool, steam bath, scrub, massage and clay mask facilities.


Istanbul Archeology Museums: A neoclassical style museum displaying the country’s rich archaeological heritage in landscaped gardens.

Tiled Kiosk Museum: The palace mansion dating from 1472 and the museum reflecting Islamic art with Greek and Iranian architectural elements.

Istanbul Railway Museum: A museum that presents artifacts and exhibits related to the country’s railways, including the remains of the Eastern Express.

PTT Museum: Postal service vehicles, stamps, telegrams and telephones on display at the historic post office.

Green areas and large parks

Florya Atatürk Forest: A large park with shady forest paths, picnic areas, children’s playground and sea views.

Zeytinburnu Beach: A rocky, artificial beach with a large park with a coastal walking path and playground next to it.

Yenikapı City Park: A narrow park with a coastal road, preferred for the sunset view in the Marmara Sea.

Balat Park: A grassy rest area on the Golden Horn shore with moored boats, picnic areas and a playground.

Maçka Park: Cozy recreational park with walking paths, children’s playgrounds and interesting history.

Yıldız Park: The city park with cafes and a museum on the hill in the Ottoman palace from the 1880s.

Emirgân Grove: A lush public park with many plants, 2 ponds, jogging tracks and children’s toys.

Moda Beach Park and Walkway: A popular grass-lined coastal path with city and sunset views, as well as jogging, cycling and picnic opportunities.

Göztepe 60th Year Park: City park with a walking path, playground and colorful flower beds surrounded by green fences by the lake.

Caddebostan Beach: Beach park and sunset spot with picnic areas, paths and city views along the Marmara Sea.

Maltepe Orhangazi City Park: A park located by the sea with tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, jogging track and picnic areas.

maltepe sahil parki
Image license: Kartal 24

Aydos Forest: Pine-covered hills, popular for picnics, offering hiking opportunities to viewing points for Istanbul views.

Underground cisterns

Goodwill Cistern: This historical cistern, built 1,600 years ago, has beautiful columns, brick domes and arches.

Binbirdirek Cistern: It is the second largest cistern in Istanbul. According to ancient Byzantine sources, it was built in the 4th century. It has 224 columns.

Basilica Cistern: A huge underground Roman cistern carried by 336 marble columns spread over an area of ​​9800 square meters.

yerebatan sarayi

Historical fountains

Sultan Ahmed III Fountain: Built in 1728 and housed in Turkish rococo style, this large fountain has ostentatious exteriors.

Beyazit Square and its surroundings

The main gate of Istanbul University, a large mosque and a large square with street vendors. There are various historical buildings and tourist attractions around the square.

Beyazit Tower: Stone fire watchtower located at Istanbul University, with lighting indicating the weather conditions today.

Suleymaniye Mosque: An ostentatious 16th century mosque with a terrace overlooking the Golden Horn, a restaurant and gardens.

Bozdogan Aqueduct: Remains of a magnificent aqueduct built by the Romans in the 4th century on a busy street.

Sarachane Park: Located next to the Şehzade Mosque; Tree-lined grassy park with fountains, playground and views of the Roman aqueduct.

Fatih Anıt Park: The park where the statue of Fatih Sultan Mehmet, who lived in the 15th century, on horseback, the aqueduct from the Roman Period and the playground are located.

Kizstone: A granite column dedicated to the Roman emperor Marcianus, built in 450, on a carved marble base.

Kariye Museum

A museum with religious artworks exhibited in a church building built in the 6th century BC.

Yedikule Fortress Museum

Fortress with 7 towers dating from 1458, known for its historical dungeon where many famous people were imprisoned.

Haydarpasa Train Station


Magnificent Ottoman-era train station with its ornate dome ceiling, sandstone façade and clock tower.