In this article, you will find what we and other people think are the 20 most entertaining things to do in Istanbul as a tourist.
Istanbul is a rare city even if you look at it only on a map. The city belongs to Europa and Asia at the same time. Being a transcontinental city with 14.7 million residents and different cultures with rich history you can always find some interesting things to do in Istanbul for sure!
1. Bosphorus Cruise
Cruising is always a great experience. Especially if you do it in a city like Istanbul. Whether you decide to take along (until the black sea and back) or a short tour (until the second suspension bridge and back) you will enjoy the sight of the shores. If you visit in the summer it is recommended that you go on a sunset tour to get the most beautiful views and take the best pictures.
2. Topkapi Palace
Lush, green courtyards that you just can’t ignore while in Istanbul. This is historically the place where generations of sultans dwelled in their principal residence for nearly half a century. Here you can take a look at the famous Harem with the decorated cages of the Sultan’s women. When it comes to weapons there will be Ottoman’s collection os various arms. The name Topkapi suggests that you will see the famous dagger here as well.
3. Hagia Sophia
If you want to see one of the world’s greatest architecture this is the place for you to visit. Throughout the past hundreds of years, the building functioned as a church and a mosque as well. Now it is serving the tourists as a museum. It will be a great experience to climb up the spiral ramp and take a look at the beautiful gallery with splendid Byzantine mosaics.
4. Basilica Cistern
If you have had enough of being on the ground, get underground and visit this Basilica! Interestingly people’s opinion on the place is different. Some find the dime light and classical music romantic but some say the opposite claiming it is somewhat scary. Find out what applies to you by strolling down the walkways while watching some fish swimming next to you between the columns
5. Grand Bazaar
Prepare your skills of bargaining because if you go to Turkey it will be inevitable to use it at some point especially is you decide to visit the Grand Bazaar in Istambul. Despite being 500 years old this place is still one of the largest of its kind in the world containing 5000 shops, 60 restaurants, 18 fountains, 12 mosques, and even a school. Pay attention to the route you have followed because it is really easy to get lost there!
6. Bostanci Lunaparki
Feeling like the museums and other attractions don’t get you excited anymore? Here is the deal for you then! An attraction park will definitely treat your cravings for adrenaline. With a lot of different rides to try fun is guaranteed there. Unlike most parks like this being outside of the big cities, this one is in the middle. You can easily get there by local buses or car.
7. Jurassic Land
Have you always wanted to get a great Jurassic park experience? This is the time you went to the Jurassic land in Istanbul. It’s mainly a family attraction which fascinates the kids but even adults enjoy the world of dinosaurs a lot. You can find museums with dino skeletons, 4D movie experience and a lot of interesting activities apart from these.
8. Pirates of Istanbul
From the great decorated and confusing mirror maze to tasty food you can find everything here that ou and your family needs on a holiday. You can win gifts if you play games and take photos in pirate costumes. It is almost like a Disney attraction in Istanbul. If you want to have fun include this as one of your things to do in Istanbul.
9. ViaSea Theme Park
Beautiful theme park experience for both children nd adults. You can’t miss those mysterious horror rooms, gorgeous animals and exciting rides there! Obviously, the staff speaks English that can be really helpful. Outside the theme and aquarium there is a nice outdoor shopping area and if you feel like eating it doesn’t lack restaurants either.
10. Aqua Club Dolphin
The biggest and the best aquapark of Istanbul where you can find a huge variety of slides of which some of them take a whole lot of courage to try in the first place but once you convince yourself you won’t regret it for sure! The experience here is unforgettable especially if you go on a sunny day.
11. Gulhane Park
If you are looking for some quiet time to relax this park will be of your interests. You can take your kids to the different playgrounds that they will certainly enjoy while you are sitting in the grass having a picnic with your wife or just lying by yourself looking at the sky. With its beautiful paths and rich flora, it will give you a good time.
12. Sultanahmet District
Beautiful, lively historical and tourist district of Istanbul. Expect a lot of people her with cats and dogs and great restaurants. The area is old but rather interesting, the grand bazaar is really nearby so once you are there you can visit that too. If you can’t decide what to do first when you arrive in Istanbul make this your choice!
13. Dolmabahçe Palace
This place is as long as 600 meters and consists of 285 rooms and 43 salons. That makes one wonder how the owner of this building managed to ever know the whereabouts of his belongings. Basically, it was built only to show the Turkish people that the Ottoman’s empire was doing just fine contrary to what they started to believe. They used gold, crystal and marble and didn’t spare a dime at all.
14. Walls of Constantinople
Known as Istanbul city walls which are 22 km long and were really efficient in the ancient times. You need to see and wonder how people were able to build such solid walls a long time ago. So if you feel like walking don’t just walk aimlessly! Plan this journey and walk right next to the Walls of Constantinople.
15. Constantine Column
Speaking of the word “Constantine” in the previous recommendation which actually comes from the ancient name of Istanbul, “Constantinople”, let’s stay on it a little bit more. Among the wonderful treasures of the ancient Istanbul, you may find this astonishing too. When it was constructed its height reached 50 meters. Today it is only 35 meters tall as it has suffered a lot of damage over the course of time.
16. Fountain of Kaiser Wilhelm II
Located on the northern end of old hippodrome (Sultanahmet Square). It was constructed by Germans and transported piece by piece to Istanbul. It was actually a gorgeous gift from the German Kaiser. It looks more like a European summer house or bandstand than a fountain but it is still more than worth visiting.
17. Uskudar Tekel Sahnesi
Featuring a great theatre inside this building lies on alongside the beautiful Bosphorus. Even if you don’t feel like watching a theatric performance you can engage in the view around the building and ask the fishermen whether they have caught anything yet. Be careful because you might end up buying all their fish as they have excellent sales skills.
18. Galata Tower
Another tower that you can actually climb and get a panoramic view of Istanbul from the top. If you are not afraid of height put this on your things to do in Istanbul list as nothing beats the view from there. If you feel like sip a cup of great coffee and indulge in the sight that way.
19. Bebek and Ortaköy
Try to say these words three times fast! It is guaranteed that your tongue will tangle just like the fact that if you visit these two villages you will have a good time. This is one of those places that are not frequented by tourists and you can find authentic local food more easily here. Bebek is a lively, green and wealthy neighborhood by the Bosphorus. Both villages are favorite places for locals to hang out at weekends and party at nights.
20. Istanbul’s Nightlife
If we started talking about the nightlife in Bebek and Ortaköy we can’t leave Istanbul out regarding this topic. What you have to know is that Istanbul’s nightlife can compete with the rest of the world’s. Words can’t express how much fun you can have there so you need to experience it for yourself. Live performances, concerts, cocktail bars, countless clubs, casinos, and open-air venues by the Bosphorus Istanbul has them all!