With so many things to do in Istanbul, we’ve taken the time to put together a few of our favorite hot-spots so that you can make the most of your time when visiting this vibrant city. This transcontinental city which straddles the Bosporus Strait – separating Europe and Asia, has long been the economic and cultural hub of Turkey. From its rich Byzantine architecture to the many bustling markets and boutiques which line the streets, it’s no wonder Istanbul has become one of the most popular tourist destinations.
Looking for the perfect place to start your adventure? Then, look no further than the soon-to-be-opened Barceló Istanbul which lies in the center of the city. Having undergone a complete renovation, the hotel offers guests a fusion of comfort and luxury, all just a few steps away from the elegant Taksim Square .
Discover Istanbul’s wonderful hidden treasures with our roundup of ‘off-the-beaten-track’ experiences …
Things to do in Istanbul: Bosphorus Cruise
Split between two continents, Istanbul is unlike any other city in the world. Hop on to one of the many ferries which depart daily from Eminonu and sail the 32km long strait which joins the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea . With the shoreline of Europe to your left and the wooded hills of Asia to your right – this unique experience is one of the best things to do in Istanbul!
Things to do in Istanbul: The Princes Islands
Enjoy a break from the hurly-burly of city sightseeing and hop on a ferry to revel in the tranquillity of The Princes’ Islands. With only four of the islands open to the public, the Prince’s Islands are an oasis of peace and quiet. If it’s attractions you want to see, then Buyukada offers a wide range of activities and sites for visitors including the famous Cankaya street and the Greek Orthodox Monastery, Aya Yorgi. Heybeliada is the second largest of the islands and the most natural – offering beautiful lush vegetation and waterfront promenade perfect for watching the sun set. Burgazada and Kinali are the smaller and less travelled of all the islands, making them much calmer and relaxed than the other two islands – perfect if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the inner city for the day.
Things to do in Istanbul: Galata Tower
Earn yourself the ultimate holiday selfie and head up The Galata Tower to get to 360-panoramic view of Istanbul from 60 meters in the sky. This historic monument is one of the highest and oldest towers in Istanbul, built as part of a defence wall surrounding the district of Galata in the 14th century. Now open to the public, you can soak up the sights of the city from this unique vantage point, all from the comfort of their rooftop cafeteria …
Things to do in Istanbul: Karakoy
Deemed as Istanbul’s hippest neighbourhood, the Instagrammable hot-spot of Karakoy is the place to head if you’re looking for chic cafes and galleries nestled amongst bohemian boutiques and traditional pastaneler (bakeries). Be sure to check out Istanbul Modern – the first of the city’s cutting-edge galleries with an excellent year-round exhibition program, before slipping off for a traditional Turkish bath experience at the magnificently restored Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami .
Things to do in Istanbul: Grand Bazaar
While this 500 year old market is not hidden-secret, a trip to Istanbul would not be complete without a visit to the iconic Grand Bazaar . Covering over 60 streets and boasting more than 5,000 shops, there are plenty of hidden treasures to be found – from hand crafted leather goods to souvenirs and jewellery. With every day locals and visitors alike, haggling to get the best bang for their buck – do not be afraid to get stuck in and get bargaining.
Things to do in Istanbul: Istiklal Street
The street that never sleeps – Istiklal is the place to head for unrivalled shopping and buzzing nightlife. Explore a unique mix of historical and modern attractions, with the 14km stretch boasting everything from shops, galleries, restaurants and cinemas, to bars and clubs that come alive at night. Once you’re all shopped out, be sure to hop on to one of the vintage red trams which run along the avenue.