The Best of Istanbul Travel Tips

On the edge of Europe, the fascinating Turkish city of Istanbul has more than enough to entertain pretty much every traveller. This round-up of posts about the city on Europe a la Carte will give you plenty of ideas of things to do in Istanbul.

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Tourist Attractions in Istanbul

A must see in Istanbul is the Dolmabahce Palace – the largest palace in Turkey, situated right on the Bosphorus on the European side. It’s opulent and impressive, and you must take a guided tour to see inside.

Things to do Istanbul

Dolmabahce Palace by Kivanc Nis

The Bascilica Cistern was formerly a vast water reservoir which serviced the city during the Byzantine and Ottoman period. It’s now open to visitors who can walk along the wooden walkways and admire the three hundred marble columns.

Things to do Istanbul

Bascilica Cistern by Salim Virji

Although you can’t take the Orient Express these days, Sirkeci Gare train station is still well worth a visit. It’s an elegant building with a small museum and numerous reminders of the Orient Express days.

Things to do Istanbul

Front of Sirkeci Gare station by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

Museums in Istanbul

Istanbul is full of interesting and varied museums, and one of the newest is also one of the strangest: this rather warm city is now home to an Ice Museum. The story of how the Vikings came to Istanbul in the ninth century is told through ice carvings and if you’re worried about the cold, don’t be – museum visitors are supplied with very warm capes to survive the temperatures – modelled below by Inka!

Things to do Istanbul

Outfits for the Ice Museum by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art opened in 2004. Don’t be put off by the unassuming warehouse building which houses it – there really is excellent art to be found inside.

Things to do Istanbul

The Istanbul Modern by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

Eating in Istanbul

A highlight of any trip to Istanbul has to be enjoying some of the local Turkish food. One of the obvious must-eats are shish kebabs – or correctly, ÅŸiÅŸ kebabs – and Marcus will get your mouth watering with his tip to visit the Umut OcakbaÅŸi restaurant to get a great example of this food.

Things to do Istanbul

The grill at umut ocakbaşı by Marcus Cedestrom

Inka was advised to try a fish bun at the Galata Bridge, which sounds delicious (and not even too unhealthy – the perfect snack!). Inka reckons that the Flower Passage is the place for fish restaurants in Istanbul.

Things to do Istanbul

The two tier Galata Bridge by lobh

Shopping in Istanbul

When you want a break from sightseeing, then you might want to follow Inka’s unique shopping tips for Istanbul, as well as exploring the famous bazaars like Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar and the gorgeous Arasta Bazaar,

Things to do Istanbul

Embroidered boots in an Istanbul shop by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

Day Trips from Istanbul

We’ve got several tips for day trips from Istanbul, and the first is to head out to Yoros Castle, over on the Asian side of Istanbul. The castle ruins are open any time and free to visit, and Marcus suggests coinciding your visit with sunset so you can get this great view over the city lights of Istanbul.

Things to do Istanbul

View of Istanbul from Yoros Castle by Marcus Cedestrom

Another day trip possibility is to take a boat ride out to the Princes’ Islands. These are a group of nine islands off the shore of the Asian side of Istanbul and with almost no cars permitted, you’re bound to experience a relaxing day – and perhaps a horse and cart ride!

Things to do Istanbul

Horse and cart ride on the Princes’ Islands by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

Finally, another great place to visit on the Asian side of Istanbul is Kadiköy. You’ll find fewer tourists there and instead, be able to explore the flower markets, local restaurants and patisseries and old wooden mansions.

Things to do Istanbul
Shop window in Kadiköy by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

Where to Stay in Istanbul

To help you find a hotel for your stay in the city, you can check out our round-up of the Best Places to Stay in Istanbul, which includes a range of hotels from budget through to luxury.

Click here for the lowest prices on Istanbul hotels