Istanbul is the most populous city in Turkey and serves as the economic, cultural, and historical centre of the nation. While the Asian section of Eurasia is home to around one third of the continent’s population, the European half of the continent serves as the commercial and historical hub of the region. The city proper is the sixth biggest in the world with a population of 14.1 million people, making it the largest urban agglomeration in Europe and the largest in the Middle East. It is also the sixth largest city in the world overall. Coterminous with Istanbul Province, which the city of Istanbul serves as the administrative capital of, Istanbul encompasses a huge region of 5,343 square kilometres. The city of Istanbul, which is located in the northwest of Turkey between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, is considered to be a transcontinental metropolis since it straddles the Bosphorus strait.

There is no other place on earth that quite compares to Istanbul. Istanbul is a city of many layers and contrasts due to its location on both Europe and Asia. Istanbul is a city in which the old and the new coexist, as evidenced by the proximity of historical landmarks such as Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace to teeming bars and lively cafes, mosques dating back to the Ottoman era to contemporary art museums and galleries, and traditional carpet shops to trendy boutiques. The city never comes to a complete halt.

Best Time to Visit Istanbul

The best periods to visit Istanbul are in the spring (April–May) and fall (September–October), when the weather is warm and sunny. In celebration of the citywide Tulip Festival, parks and green places around the city are decorated with the bright bulbs during the month of April. Most of the city’s population leaves for the southern beaches as soon as the summer heat sets in, although the streets remain lively all through the night when temperatures drop. Istanbul is at its most dark and evocative in the winter, when clouds and rain pour down.

Things to do in Istanbul

  • Hagia Sophia
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Visit hammam
  • Dervish show
  • Basilica Cistern
  • Grand Bazaar
  • bosphorus cruise

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was built throughout the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, and it served as a significant landmark for both. Hagia Sophia, which was first a church but then a mosque and is now a museum in the Turkish Republic, has long been a priceless landmark.

The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque / Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i erifi, the biggest Eastern Roman Church in Istanbul, has been struggling against time for centuries thanks to its groundbreaking construction, rich history, religious importance, and exceptional qualities. It is the oldest and fastest-completed cathedral in the world, and it was built three times on the same spot. It is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and has domes that seem to float in the air, columns of solid marble, and mosaics that have never been equaled. The wonderful use of space, light, and colour in a mosque is enough to make a believer want to bow down in prayer. Hagia Sophia is situated on the first hill of Istanbul, at the very end of the ancient peninsula, with the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn on three sides.

Topkapi Palace

The museum-turned-palace is unlike any other structure you have ever seen, and its rich past only adds to its stunning aesthetic. You’ll be captivated by the exquisite art, valuable furnishings, verdant gardens, and opulent Harem. You may visit this palace on its own, or as part of a package deal that includes visits to many other sights in the city.

The Topkapi Palace Museum (Turkish: Topkapi Saray Müzesi) is a museum in Istanbul that displays the Ottoman Empire’s imperial treasures and has a large library with many rare books and manuscripts. Location: a palace complex that was the administrative centre and home of the imperial Ottoman court from around 1478 to 1856. It was opened to the public as a museum in 1924, a year after the Turkish Republic was founded. The history and culture of the Ottoman Empire are remembered via the Topkap Palace Museum’s architecture and treasures.

Hammam Instanbul

Turkish baths, also known as hammams, are an essential part of Turkish culture, and they provide a welcome opportunity for rejuvenation and relaxation to all visitors to Istanbul.
While Romans built the first permanent bathhouses, the Turkish bath is now the most popular in the world.

It’s true that hammams were commonplace in Ottoman society. It was common knowledge that bathing had health advantages, and that bathhouses also provided a social space for men and women at various times of the day.

This concept of the Turkish bath as a place to cleanse body and soul is alive and well in both contemporary spas and the country’s traditional marble-domed hamams. In Istanbul, a visit to a hammam is a necessity.

Dervish Show

Watch the amazing Dervish show in the evening around 7 PM. Behold the mysterious Mevlevi Order’s rite, the whirling dance of which has been named a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity. In the Sema ceremony, music and dance take you on a trip through humankind’s quest for spiritual “perfection” via the power of the mind and love.

Presentation of A library stocked with literature and artifacts from the dervish culture, including clothes, musical instruments, and personal items, as well as informational exhibits regarding whirling ritual. This one-of-a-kind exhibition also has interactive displays of poetry and music by Rumi and other Sufis, as well as hyperrealistic dervish sculptures and film presentations.

Basilica Cistern

Throughout Istanbul, hundreds of old cisterns may be found buried under the city’s streets and homes. There are two cisterns in Istanbul that visitors may explore, but the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnc) is the biggest and most out-of-the-ordinary.
Unlike James Bond in From Russia with Love, who had to row through an underground cistern in Istanbul, you may take a walk through the forest of hundreds of marble columns and enjoy the subterranean chill on a hot summer day.

One of the most stunning sights in all of Istanbul is the Basilica Cistern, which can be found to the southwest of Hagia Sofia. This massive underground water reservoir was constructed by Justinianus I, the Byzantine Emperor (527-565), and is often referred to by its Turkish name, the “Yerebatan Cistern,” after the marble columns that line its interior. The fact that the cistern was formerly a basilica is what gives rise to its other name, the Basilica Cistern.

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar is an iconic part of Istanbul, and it’s easy to become lost in the awe and wonder of the area. When you step foot in this fantastic area, which has clearly not lost any of its particular traits over the years, you can’t help but be reminded of the stories from The One Thousand and One Nights. There are 58 distinct streets that may be reached from one of the 22 entrances. It’s in Sultanahmet, next to the emberlitas and Beyazit neighbourhoods, not far from the city’s historic core and most recognizable landmarks.

There’s more to do than hunt for trinkets during a trip here. It is a great spot to gain a feel for Ottoman culture, with its grand arcaded main avenues and tiny lanes running between hans (ancient merchant inns) and bedestens (market halls).

On help you make the most of your stay in Istanbul, we’ve compiled this guide to the best souvenirs to pick up and buying strategies to use at the Grand Bazaar.

Bosphorus cruise

One of the greatest ways to see the beauty of Istanbul is on a boat along the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus provides an unparalleled vantage point over the city. Take a trip across the ocean and be awed by the sights on both continents.