Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city. It has a long history and is brimming with culture, including brilliant art, architecture, music and food. If you decide to visit Istanbul, there are several sights and activities you don’t want to miss out on.
Once you’ve booked your accommodation through a site such as Venere.com, don’t forget to add these attractions to your itinerary.
This grand cathedral was the world’s greatest for over 900 years. It was built by Emperor Justinian in 537. It became a mosque in the 15th century after Constantinople was claimed by the Turks and was then converted into a museum. A visit to Hagia Sophia will reveal stunning architecture and a great sense of history. You can find beautiful mosaics in the building’s gallery and marvel at the grand ceilings.
The Grand Bazaar is the place to shop in Istanbul, especially if you’re looking for the perfect souvenir. It’s the perfect place to practise your haggling skills and try to get a good bargain. The huge market is separated into different areas, each one for a different product or craft. Go with a map if you can get one because without it you’re likely to get lost.
Lovers of resplendent finery will love Topkapi Palace, which was once the center of the Ottoman Empire. Sultans lived in this hilltop palace with their wives and concubines. The complex also holds royal jewels in the Treasury and has kitchens that would have once fed 5,000 people every day. Stand on the gold Breakfast Pavilion to enjoy some amazing views of Istanbul.
The Blue Mosque stands opposite Hagia Sophia. Built in the 17th century, its real name is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Its nickname comes from its stunning interior, where blue tiles cover the walls. Although it’s open to non-Muslims, it is still an operating mosque. If you want to see inside, you’ll need to dress appropriately.
For some peace and quiet visit the dark and hushed sight of the Basilica Cistern. This site was hidden for centuries after being built by the Romans in the 6th century. Its original purpose was to bring drinking water to the city. There are 336 underground columns at the site, lit up with coloured lights that enhance the atmosphere. Two of the columns are carved with images of the mythical Medusa’s head.
The Bosphorus is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. You can take a cruise along the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea, which takes less than 90 minutes. Take the ferry to Üsküdar and see the Maiden’s Tower which lies on a small islet and is shrouded in legend. Visit the Selimiye Barracks, the site of Florence Nightingale’s hospital during the Crimean War, or go to the 16th-century mosques nearby.
Lastly, make sure that you don’t miss out on the food in Istanbul. From street-food to fusion restaurants, food is a colourful and varied thing in the city.