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Things to do in İstanbul

Top recommendations from locals

From sightseeing to hidden gems, find out what makes the city unique with the help of the locals who know it best.
Restaurant
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“Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower in the Galata/Karaköy quarter of Istanbul, Turkey, just to the north of the Golden Horn's junction with the Bosphorus. It is a high, cone-capped cylinder that dominates the skyline and offers a panoramic vista of Istanbul's historic peninsula and its environs. Galata tower is absolutely worth a visit or two to enjoy one of the greatest views of the city.”
  • 193 locals recommend
History Museum
“Hagia Sophia requires no word for its glamourous structure and long history that goes back in time till the 6th century AD. As appreciated by every leader that reigned Constantinople, Hagia Sophia survived the political turmoils and wars with the least damage. Formerly, a Greek Orthodox Cathedral, this magnificent monument was turned into an Ottoman imperial mosque afterwardsis the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque. Even though the mosaics from its Cathedral times have been painted over, now the work to uncover these still goes on after it was turned into a museum. A visit to Istanbul is never complete without a visit to this beautiful place, once the largest building and an architechtural wonder of its time.”
  • 156 locals recommend
Route
“Taksim, key interchange station for many buses also metro. From Taksim it's easy to get anywhere arround the city”
  • 187 locals recommend
Mosque
“Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Blue Mosque as known internationally, was built in the 17th century during the reign of Ahmed the 1st. The mosque is famous for its hand-painted blue tiles that decorate its interior walls and towards the sunset, shades of blue flashes on the exterior surfaces of the domes and minarets, like the daylight leaving its marks on this beautiful architechtural monument. Today, the mosque is open to public for praying as well as for touristic reasons. You can have a tour around the mosque and the Sultan Ahmed Square in between the mosque and Hagia Sofia Museum. These two wonders stand next to one another as the landmarks of Istanbul and your visit will feel lacking if you miss to see these great buildings. ”
  • 139 locals recommend
History Museum
“Topkapi Palace is located on a beautiful edge of Fatih area next to Bosphorus Strait. It was built in the 15th century to replace the old palace and became the new headquarters for the Ottoman Imperial family and leaders. In 1985, the palace has been declared as one of the world heritage sites by UNESCO and today it is open as a museum for visitors. Although the palace has hundreds of rooms, many of them are not open to public but you can still see the most important areas such as the Harem, treasury room and more including the collections from the history of the Empire.”
  • 132 locals recommend
Museum
“Istanbul Modern was founded in 2004 as Turkey’s first museum of modern and contemporary art. Committed to sharing Turkey’s artistic creativity and cultural identity with the local and international art worlds, the museum hosts a broad array of interdisciplinary activities. Istanbul Modern embraces a global vision to collect, preserve, display and document works of modern and contemporary art, photography, design, architecture, new media and cinema. It acts as an intermediary in the sharing of Turkey’s cultural identity with the international art environment. It supports the artists in their productions and their efforts to form international partnerships. Aspiring to make art easily accessible by the masses, Istanbul Modern provides education programs to art followers of all ages. Through its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs, the museum aims to instill a love of the arts in visitors from all walks of life and encourage their active participation in the arts. Established in a building occupying an 8,000 square meter site in Karaköy on the shores of the Bosphorus, where it hosted exhibitions and events for 14 years, Istanbul Modern has now moved to a temporary space in Beyoğlu, where it will welcome visitors from May 2018 onward for three years while its new building is being constructed. The museum offers a variety of cultural activities in its permanent and temporary exhibition halls, photography gallery, spaces for educational and social programs, library, cinema, café, and store. From the Chair of the Board It all began in 1987 with the dream of providing Istanbul with a museum of modern art. But it wasn’t until December 11, 2004, that we were able to open the doors of a venue that would further enrich the culture of our geography through contemporary art. That date represented the culmination of years of struggle. Founded by the private sector, with the support of the public sector and local government, Istanbul Modern set out on its journey as Turkey’s first museum of modern and contemporary art in Antrepo #4, a former customs warehouse in Karaköy. Our goal was to offer audiences the opportunity to see, learn about, enjoy and appreciate art and to observe its continual development. We wanted to establish a dynamic institution that would turn museum-going into a habit, increase the number and diversity of visitors, and keep their interest alive. Today, I can proudly say that we have succeeded in achieving this goal. While providing a venue for exhibiting Turkey’s multicultural heritage and universal values, we have also become a symbol of Istanbul, of the transformation in contemporary art, and of our country’s modern identity. Our collection and temporary exhibition halls, photography gallery, video area, library, cinema, educational activities, store, and café provide a comprehensive space for living that invites visitors both to witness what is produced and to produce themselves. Our activities and events in design, architecture, new media, performance, literature and other disciplines are contributing to the development of future audiences. We are also contributing to the promotion of Turkey abroad and cultural tourism through exhibitions we organize in major museums around the world. In line with our vision of raising new generations to love art, we have created opportunities for hundreds and thousands of children and young people to learn about and produce art. Extending our reach beyond national boundaries, Istanbul Modern has partnered with prominent art institutions around the world on international exhibitions and museum programs. Our long-running architectural collaboration with MoMA and educational collaboration with the Centre Pompidou are continuously renewed, offering our visitors completely new experiences. Energized by the unique and brand-new synergy it creates, Istanbul Modern proudly continues its journey with the support of its members, whose number increases by the day. Today, Istanbul Modern is 15 years old... and we are counting down the days to a brand-new beginning, filled with the optimism that comes from touching the lives of millions of visitors through their encounters with art. While our new museum building designed by Renzo Piano is being constructed at our original site on the Bosphorus, we are welcoming our visitors at our temporary space in Beyoğlu, where we are hosting a full program of events and exhibitions. I would like to take this opportunity to convey my deep appreciation to all the artists whose productions have added value to the world of art in Turkey and whose support has strengthened us throughout these years. I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to all those individuals and institutions who have supported Istanbul Modern and to all those visitors who have made art an integral part of their lives.”
  • 178 locals recommend
Historic Site
“The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops on a total area of 30,700 m2, attracting between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. In 2014, it was listed No.1 among the world's most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. The Grand Bazaar at Istanbul is often regarded as one of the first shopping malls of the world.”
  • 135 locals recommend
Office
“Istiklal Street is one of the most famous avenues, visited by nearly 3 million people in a single day over the course of weekends. It is an elegant pedestrian street that is 1.4 kilometers long. ”
  • 148 locals recommend
Pedestrian Plaza
“This spot is a "must-visit" if you are fond of history and museums. If you have been to Turkey before, you probably know how Ataturk is valued and commemorated in the country as a founding leader. This palace is where he spent some of his time in Istanbul and where he also passed away in 1938. Right now, it is a museum and open to visitors with guided tours that explain how the Palace was used and how its interior design and furniture came to be the way it is today. After the tour, you can enjoy the view of Bosporus in the palace garden. ”
  • 138 locals recommend
Plaza
“Taksim is one of the landmarks of old Constantinople and new Istanbul. Being one of the oldest and most famous squares in the city as well as in the country itself, Taksim has emerged also one of the trendiest gathering spots for all sorts of crowds from night-life lovers to day-time visits for relaxation, sightseeing or shopping.”
  • 90 locals recommend
Historic Site
“The Basilica Cistern, or Cisterna Basilica, is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), Turkey. The cistern, located 150 metres (490 ft) southwest of the Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu, was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. Today it is kept with little water, for public access inside the space.”
  • 83 locals recommend
Historic Site
“various spice stores and photographic sights in the historic Egyptian market”
  • 92 locals recommend
Shopping Centre
“If you enjoy shopping malls, Cevahir is the place where all in one becomes possible; here you will find all the chain brands for different budget scales from clothing to personal care. In addition, you can choose from many options to eat from fast food to local food alternatives as well as cafes. The mall even has an entertainment park in it for adults that still know how to have fun and of course, the children.”
  • 63 locals recommend
Restaurant
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“Maiden's Tower! Do we need to say more? This tower as we see it currently was built in the 18th century around three hundred years ago. Before, while being used for military and institutional purposes, today it decorates the Bosphorus Strait for every individual that has ever set their feet in this town. This tower is not only famous touristic attraction but also locally, it symbolizes a sort of mainstream romanticism; you can see the Maiden's Tower in many romantic scenes of Turkish TV shows and movies. It makes sense after all given the tragic legend behind the name.”
  • 63 locals recommend
Nightclub
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“You can try 360 Istanbul to chill out on the terrace with fantactic view . They also have a stylish kitchen with contemporary Turkis dishes. ”
  • 86 locals recommend
Plaza
“Lots of historical things around here mosques grand bazaar restaurants museums ottoman era buildings”
  • 51 locals recommend

Top restaurants

Nightclub
“You can try 360 Istanbul to chill out on the terrace with fantactic view . They also have a stylish kitchen with contemporary Turkis dishes. ”
  • 86 locals recommend
Turkish Restaurant
“It is a famous restaurant for many years. Family business and everything is really fresh and yummy.”
  • 57 locals recommend
Breakfast Spot
“Nice place for a traditional Turkish breakfast. Probably the most affordable one around the neighborhood.”
  • 62 locals recommend
Turkish Restaurant
“You get in and you pick the food you see in front of you. It's a great way to taste Turkish cuisine without being disappointed. Çia also offers a new look at Turkish cuisine.”
  • 70 locals recommend
Nightclub
“After a romantic dinner at KiKi, one of the most hit places in Sıraselviler, you can enjoy an unforgettable night in the presence of famous DJ performances. It can be because of the smoking area and good music preference;)”
  • 39 locals recommend
Café
“İstiklal Avenue or Istiklal Street is one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul, Turkey, visited by nearly 3 million people in a single day over the course of weekends.”
  • 51 locals recommend
Caucasian Restaurant
“Ficcin serves delicious Meze type Turkish food, that's small platters you choose from a menu, with many healthy fish and vegetable options. It goes well with the traditional Turkish alcoholic drink Raki ;)”
  • 47 locals recommend
Lounge
“Journey lounge nice & cozy decoration, local & fresh products within season. ”
  • 49 locals recommend

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