The Blue Mosque is located in the Sultanahmet area of Fatih. It is within walking distance of several Bagcilar-Kabatas tram stops, as well as must-visit locales like the Grand Bazaarand the Basilica Cistern. The property is open 24 hours a day but closes six times daily for calls to prayer.
Visitors say this mosque offers “stunning architecture inside and out.” It can, however, get busy, so consider arriving early. And remember, the Blue Mosque is an active religious site, so dress conservatively. Women should wear headscarves, as is custom. If you forgot to bring one, you can borrow one from the mosque.
Hagia Sophia Museum
Once the biggest cathedral in the world, the Hagia Sophia is considered the magnum opus of Byzantine architecture. Some visitors say the building is symbolic of the eclectic history of Istanbul itself, with beautiful Christian mosaics alongside brilliant Islamic calligraphy. Others simply describe it as a “must-see” attraction.
Topkapi Palace Museum
The Topkapı Palace or the Seraglio, is a large museum in Istanbul, Turkey. In the 15th century, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans. and is one of Istanbul’s most popular attractions. It officially became a museum in 1924, shortly after the end of the Ottoman era, and features brilliant architecture, manicured courtyards and extensive weaponry, porcelain, cutlery, art and fabric collections.
Located within walking distance of must-visit sights like the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cisternand Süleymaniye Mosque, the Grand Bazaar is one of the biggest and oldest covered shopping markets in the world. It regularly overwhelms visitors with its 60 streets of 5,000-plus shops, each accompanied by an overzealous vendor. Products range from carpets and clothing to art and chessboards, and restaurants, cafes and even two hammams (or Turkish baths) can be found here.
Taksim Square is a vibrant, modern area located in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district. Scores of shops, restaurants and bars fill the surrounding streets, as well as popular hotels like the InterContinental Istanbul and the Grand Hyatt Istanbul. The square also features notable landmarks like the Taksim Republic Monument (Taksim Cumhuriyet Aniti), which commemorates the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.
While the area surrounding Taksim Square draws the vast majority of partygoers, the small neighborhood of Ortaköy happily enjoys its less popular status. You won’t simply stumble onto this cool enclave; located north of Beyoglu along the Bosphorus.
Originally built as a Byzantine church, later converted to a mosque and now serving as a secular museum, the Chora Museum is definitely deserving of a visit. There, you’ll find a series of beautiful mosaics and frescoes that many consider some of the best surviving examples of Byzantine art in the world.
A private museum aimed at collecting and exhibiting artwork of contemporary significance, Istanbul Modern appeals to locals and international visitors. Artists represented inside include Sarkis Zabunyan, Richard Wentworth and Yoko Ono.
Sitting along the Bosphorus near the Kabatas tram stop and the Besiktas ferry port, Dolmabahçe Palace’s jaw-dropping beauty and historical importance impresses visitors. Built in the 19th century, the palace was used by the final Ottoman sultans as their primary residence and administrative seat. The interior and exterior architecture showcase a mix of European and Arab designs that can only be found at this global crossroad.