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My Escapes Turkey Istanbul Short Stay in Istanbul Istanbul's Top Attractions Not to Miss

Istanbul's Top Attractions Not to Miss

May 30, 2014
April 29, 2015

A single full day trip was enough for me to see a large number of Istanbul's top attractions. Only a handful slipped out...
In this article I'll highlight the best places everyone should visit.

Of course, the list also contains the ones I wasn't able to see due to lack of time.

My first trip only offered me a full day for visiting and exploring the city. It was enough though, for seeing some of the most prominent places.

This little guide is based on both my trips and highlights the top attractions of Istanbul.

The bosporus

The Galata Tower in the distance

View Photo Gallery for more travel photos

If you make good use of time, you will be able to visit all of these below in 2 full days. But 3 full days will certainly be enough for anyone with good traveling skills.

Be aware of the cities rather unusual geographic characteristics, the large size of Istanbul and of the fact that transportation can be a headache.

The first step is to choose your hotel well. I recommend the Golden Horn area, then you can go around, visit these all of these below one-by-one:

#1 The Hagia Sophia

Istanbul's and Turkey's top attraction was built in the 500's and it used to be a Christian Orthodox Cathedral during the ancient times when Istanbul was still known as Constantinople, an eastern bastion of Christianity.

During Muslim rule it was converted to a mosque, but it still retains many of the original interior Christian ornaments.

My Hagia Sophia Guide will provide further details to you about this wonder.

#2 The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque)

The Blue Mosque is right in front of the Hagia Sophia.
It's officially called Sultan Ahmed Mosque, but because of its blue tiles, it has earned the name Blue Mosque.

Built in the 1600's, it is more than 1,000 years younger than the Hagia Sophia and still in use for prayers today.

For more information, here's my take on the Blue Mosque.

#3 The Grand Bazaar

Close to the previous two, the Grand Bazaar is also one Istanbul's tourist magnets. And intricate network of inner streets make this covered market a shopper's labyrinth.

I was able to see it during my return trip from Southeast Asia.

#4 The Topkapi Museum

Refer to my Topkapi Museum guide for details about one of the World's most impressive museums.
It's a "must see" as well, don't you dare leave it out of your itinerary. You'll see lots of historic artifacts, large gemstones and precious metal objects, relics...

#5 The Sultanahmet Area

All of the above are in the Sultanahmet area, which abounds in shops, cafes, restaurants and street merchants selling souvenirs and various snacks/delicacies.
In addition, there are loads of historic buildings and hidden attractions to discover.

#6 The Bosporus Strait and the Bosporus Bridge

The Bosporus Strait (or Bosphorus Strait) connects the Black Sea with the Marmara Sea (which in turn connected to the Mediterranean Sea).

As we know, the Bosporus separates Asia from Europe.
What unites seas by water, separates continental land masses.

The first land link constructed was the Bosporus Bridge (1.5 km or 0.96 mi long). But there are plans for more bridges and even tunnels.

#7 The Galata Tower

On the photo at the top of this page, you can see the Galata Tower rising up from amid a dense district of old buildings. It is a great viewpoint for seeing old Istanbul's panorama.

The Romanesque style tower standing 66.9 m tall had been built in 1348 by Christians.
Today it's a tourist attraction with a restaurant at the top...

#8 The Istanbul University

Its history dates back to 1453 - the Ottoman Empire's era.

Also in the Sultanahmet area, it's a short walk from the Grand Bazaar. Worth seeing if you've seen all 7 attractions above, even if they won't let you in.
To find it, go with the tram to the Bayazit station.

Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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