60 ideas of things to see and do in Istanbul

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Sometimes blog posts use to say essential, or unmissable things to see and do in “Istanbul” (or whatever city it is). This list is not about that. It’s not about imperdibles, but about simple ideas that I was doing and evaluating during my 30 days in Istanbul. Of course, among them are those that would be essential to Istanbul, but also many curious or even unusual ideas that I think are worth mentioning (all).

Ideas, actividades y cosas que ver y hacer en Estambul. Ideas, actividades y cosas que ver y hacer en Estambul. ( * The Mosque museum of Hagia Sophia may be the zero kilometers of activities in Istanbul)

You know (if you follow me on Instagram) that I’m a slow-paced traveler. And that more and more I do that of installing myself in a place to know it in depth and to live it. Therefore all these ideas are based on my curiosity exploring during my 30 days in Istanbul. Especially based on my tireless walks to the last possible corner in that number of days in the city. Day by day I was adding my activities and recommendations so here we go with the list:


The classics of Istanbul (districts of Sultanahmet and Eminönü)

These two neighborhoods are the zero kilometer of Istanbul in the old part, so I’m going to start by naming the most classic points in these two areas that contain the main ancient monuments:

1. Visit Hagia Sofia (Paid Museum Mosque)

2. Right opposite, visit the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmed Camii)

Not far from the two previous points, visit the Basilica Cistern.

4. Walking through the ancient Roman racetrack of Constantinople (Sultanahmet Meydanı) and its monuments from the Byzantine period.

5. Walking the Great Bazaar

6. Visit and do some shopping at the Spice Bazaar

7. Walk around the Bazaar, where products can be much cheaper in the shopping streets.

8. In a morning (or half day) visit the Topkapi Palace (and get to know the Harem)

9. Visit the Orient Express station (Marmaray Sirkeci)

10. Visit one of the most famous narghile bars (Anadolu Nargile Çorlulu Ali Paşa Medresesi, next to Gran Bazar)

To know the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul

Walking in Gülhane Park (a green oasis in the city)

More to do in the environment of these two neighborhoods

Visit the Suleiman Mosque

In a courtyard next to the Mosque, there are incredible views to the Golden Horn.

Walk across the Puente de Galata and observe its fishermen (and maybe eat in the restaurants on the bridge).

Walk across the Haliç subway bridge (which has incredible views of the Golden Horn).

Visit other less touristy mosques such as Fatih Camii, or the Eyüp Sultan Mosque (in the area of the golden horn).

Visit the little Saint Sophia (Küçük Ayasofya)

Search for some of the viewpoints of the Golden Horn (such as the Pierre Loti coffee)

Tour the neighborhoods of Fanar and Balat (with its history and colorful style)

In Fanar and Balat visit patriarchal Cathedral of St. George and Bulgarian Orthodox Church Saint Stefan

Also in Fanar, take a complete tour around the impressive Phanar Greek Orthodox building.

Make the experience of a traditional hamman (there are for tourists and luxury as well as the more local and more affordable price).

Visit the traditional district of Eyüp. There is the third place of pilgrimage in the Islamic world.

Walk the fishermen’s quarter of Kumkapı (and eat fish)

Modern European area (Taksin and Galata districts)

Up Galata Tower.

Walk the Taksin Square and the commercial street of modern Europe (Istiklal)

Get on the nostalgia tram that runs along Istiklal Street)

To know ancient passages of Istanbul (on Istiklal) as the Çiçek Pasajı.

Visit the Museum of Innocence.

Discover the Kamondo stairs in Karaköy.

Use the Tunnel (the second oldest metro section in the world)

More to do in the environment of Taksin and Galata

Visit Dolmabahçe Palace (the palace with which the last sultans replaced Topkapi Palace)

Walk the KaraKöy district and its stylish shops

Enter the Pera Palace Hotel (where Orient Express passengers arrived)

Walk along Abdi Avenue İpekçi and its luxury shops in the district of Şişli (Nisantasi, the most European area).

More neighbourhoods (somewhat further away) in the European part

Walk through the bustling Besiktas district.

Get to the Ortaköy district and try the best Kumpir (stuffed potatoes).

Arnavutköy’s wealthy neighbourhood and walk its waterfront and inner streets.

Doing the Bosforo Tour

Visit the walls and fortifications of Rumeli Hisarı

Visit the Küçüksu Palace (possible to do on the Bosforo tour)

Visit Beylerbeyi Palace (also on the Bosforo Tour)

Also, take a break from the hustle and bustle in the charming Beylerbeyi district (above the Bosphorus).

Visit quiet and beautiful areas on the Bosphorus coast such as Göksu (Asian part)

If we wanted to visit a non-tourist area to see the essence of local life, we could go as far as Fatih.

What to see and do in the Asian part

Visit the district of Uskudar (Asian part)

Watch the sunset at the carpet bar overlooking the Bosphorus (in Uskudar)

Visit the tower of the Maiden (in Uskudar).

Visit the district of Kadiköy (Asian part)

Visit more modern designed mosques such as Şakirin or Çamlıca mosque in the Asian part.

Visit the district of Turkish novels (Kuzguncuk, Asian part)

More activities (general)

Take a night cruise (along the Bosphorus)

Eat Baklava

Try desserts such as Kunefre, of Ottoman origin.

Go up to the cafes and restaurants terrace.

Take a cruise to the Black Sea.

Take the Cay tea every afternoon.

Watch a dance by Derviches

Watch a belly-dancing show.

Make the excursion to the Prince Islands.

(*) All images belong to Matías Callone

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