Things to do in Istanbul, Turkey

Finally, I'm sharing my #Turkey itineraries with you all. Sorry for the delay. I was super duper busy these few months. Even my mom keeps rushing me to blog about our Turkey trip lol. Since we had visited a few provinces in Turkey, so I separated the blog post according to the provinces. Today's post is about things to do in Istanbul. Enjoy reading and don't forget to check out the travel vlog at the bottom section.

About Istanbul

Istanbul is a major city in Turkey that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. Its Old City reflects the cultural influences of the many empires that once ruled here. In the Sultanahmet district, the open-air, Roman-era Hippodrome was for centuries the site of chariot races, and Egyptian obelisks also remain. The iconic Byzantine Hagia Sophia features a soaring 6th-century dome and rare Christian mosaics.

Istanbul is the only transcontinental city in the entire world. On the western side of the Bosphorus Strait, you're in Europe, but if you cross to the other side, you're setting foot in Asia. Furthermore, the city's Grand Bazaar is the largest covered market in the world.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, officially the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque and formerly the Church of the Holy Wisdom, is a Late Antique place of worship in Istanbul, designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles.

Built between 532 and 537, Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom, Ayasofya) represents a brilliant moment in Byzantine architecture and art. It was the principal church of the Byzantine Empire in its capital, Constantinople (later Istanbul), and a mosque after the Ottoman Empire conquered the city in 1453.

There is something that needs to take noted :
  • There is no entrance fee when entering Hagia Sophia.
  • You should remove your shoes before entering the carpets of the mosque.
  • You are kindly requested to show respect to the daily five prayers in the mosque, not to make so much noise, and not to run and stand in front of the people praying.
Location : Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
Business hours : Open 24 hours

Bosphorus Cruise

Why Bosphorus Cruise?
  • Start your adventures in Turkey by joining one of the most sought-after boat tours in Istanbul.
  • Cruise along the Bosphorus and admire the variety of architecture on the European and Asian coasts.
  • Move past Istanbul tourist attractions such as the Bosphorus Bridge, Topkapi Palace, and Hagia Sophia.
  • Boats depart hourly every day from Dentur Avrasya Ferry Station next to the Istanbul Welcome Card ticket office.

A cruise on the Bosphorus is probably the most overlooked Istanbul tourist attraction. Understandable, with such an abundance of historical sightseeing spots in Istanbul and too little time to squeeze them all into your short holiday. But take my advice and set a few hours aside to take an unforgettable Bosphorus tour.

I strongly suggest you guys take this cruise when you're visiting Istanbul. I personally think it is worth the price as you can see the beautiful view of Istanbul and chill on the cruise.

Tours Options and Cost :
  • Full circle (6 hours) : 25 TL
  • Short circle (2 hours) : 15 TL for children under 12 years old
  • One-way ticket : 12,50 TL (Adult) 6 TL (Children)


The Hippodrome of Constantinople, located in Sultanahmet/Istanbul, was a public arena mainly for chariot races. The word hippodrome comes from the Greek hippos (horse) and dromos (way). The Hippodrome of Constantinople was also home to gladiatorial games, official ceremonies, celebrations, protests, torture of the convicts and so on. Hippodrome functioned all in the Roman (203-330 CE), Byzantine (330-1453 CE), and Ottoman (1453-1922) periods.

The ancient Hippodrome was the centre of Byzantine civic life, from political and theological controversies to chariot races and riots. Built-in 203 by Emperor Septimus Severus, it is estimated that the arena could accommodate up to 100,000 spectators.

Location : Binbirdirek, Sultan Ahmet Parkı No:2, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
Business hours : 24 hours

Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, also known by its official name, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is an Ottoman-era historical imperial mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey. A functioning mosque, it also attracts large numbers of tourist visitors. It was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Kulliye contains Ahmed's tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque's interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque's five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. It sits next to the Hagia Sophia, the principal mosque of Istanbul until the Blue Mosque's construction and another popular tourist site. The Blue Mosque was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1985 under the name of "Historic Areas of Istanbul".

The Blue Mosque is a historical mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is known as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles surrounding the walls' interior design. Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 years, during the rule of Ahmed I. Just like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasa and a hospice. Besides still being used as a mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque has also become a popular tourist attraction in Istanbul.

Besides being a tourist attraction, it's also an active mosque, so it's closed to non-worshippers for a half hour or so during the five daily prayers. The best way to see the great architecture of the Blue Mosque is to approach it from the Hippodrome (west side of the mosque) if you are a non-Muslim visitor, you also have to use the same direction to enter the mosque.

Unfortunately, during our visit, they are having a renovation. Thus, we didn't take many photos of this place because there are renovations everywhere, the photos are not nice lol.

Location : Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
Business hours : Daily (9.00am - 7.00pm)

Topkapi Palace Museum

The Topkapi Palace, or the Seraglio, is a large museum in the east of the Fatih district of Istanbul in Turkey. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans.

Topkapi Palace has four separate courtyards, an Imperial Harem and many artefacts, ornaments, books and other valuable items from Ottoman history. It also has many examples of mesmerizing Ottoman and Byzantine architecture in its structure.

With over 75k google reviews, this place is a MUST VISIT in Istanbul. This place is beautiful. I love all the interiors and buildings here. So pretty and historic.

The entrance fee of Topkapi Palace is 200 Turkish Lira per person. To visit the Harem it is an additional 100 Turkish Lira per person. It's free for children under 12 years old, and entry to the Harem is free for those under 6. Museum entry is free for those in possession of a 72 hours Museum Pass.

Location : Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
Business hours : Daily (10.00am - 4.00pm) ; Closed on Tuesday

Spice Bazaar

The Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey is one of the largest bazaars in the city. Located in the Eminonu quarter of the Fatih district, it is the most famous covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar.

Spice Bazaar, built-in 1664, is one of the most colourful bazaars in Istanbul that offers numberless spices, Turkish delights, caviar, dried nuts, and more.

No visit to Istanbul is complete without stopping by the atmospheric Spice Bazaar. While the Grand Bazaar may be the largest and most famous of Istanbul's covered bazaars, this spice market wins the prize for being the most colourful, fragrant, and often the most fun as visitors can taste the goods on offer.

The Spice Bazaar keeps slightly different hours from the Grand Bazaar. The most significant difference is that it's open on Sundays (the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays.) Many of the vendors can vacuum seal your spices, making it easier and cleaner to pack them in your luggage.

If you are a fan of peanuts (like me), then you should try this Balli Susamli Fistik. It is basically a peanut coated with sesame. It tastes a bit sweet and crispy texture. Give it a try if you're here! We bought 1kg back home and the owner gave us some discount.

Location : Rustem Pasa, Erzak Ambari Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey.
Business hours: Daily (9.00am - 7.00pm)

Istiklal Street

Many people have a love/hate relationship with the ever-bustling (Istiklal Street or Istiklal Avenue – İstiklal Caddesi in Turkish) that runs from Taksim Square nearly all the way to the landmark Galata Tower. Although it is the beating heart of the city, the three million people that pass it every day can make it rather challenging to traverse. Yet it serves as a microcosm of Istanbul itself and although chains and fast food joints are starting to edge out the more old-fashioned shops, there are still traces of old Istanbul here.

Galatasaray Tram, this is of heritage value and runs from end to end of Istiklal street once every 40inutes. A good way to see the sights on a busy street, if you don't want to walk.

The Nostalgic tramway covers an area of approximately 1 kilometre all along Istiklal Caddesi from Tunel up to Taksim Square.

Business hours : Open daily between 10:00 and 21:00, including Sundays and public holidays. Unlike the Grand Bazaar, most stores here only accept Turkish Lira, and you can pay with all major credit cards.

Ocakbasi | Durum Bufe

When you come to Turkey, you must try their kebab (grilled barbecue) which is one of their signature dishes.

Although we tried so many varieties of kebabs during the trip, we keep searching the authentic and delicious local kebabs and we found this.

This humble restaurant is located inside Spice Bazaar. It only has two tables outside and a few tables inside the shop so we wait for about 5 minutes before we take our seat.

The kebab is the best kebab that I ever had in Turkey! The meat is so juicy and flavourful. Love the onion to brighten up the flavour. The roti (bread) tastes good as well. Not too thick nor too thin. Strongly recommend this place!

Location : Rüstem Paşa, Hasırcılar Caddesi , Eminönü 38/E, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
Business hours : Mon - Sat (7am -7pm) ; Closed on Sunday


If you're an ice cream lover (like me), then you should pay a visit to Mado. It offers excellent ice cream, dessert, food and drinks. MADO Café chain operates in more than 370 branches in Turkey and around the world.

Check out my exhausted face. This day is the day I started having a fever and body ache.

I basically just have ice cream as my only meal for the whole day. I got no appetite at all.

My mom was hungry at that moment so she ordered breakfast.

Location : Alemdar, Divan Yolu Cd. No:24, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
Business hours : Daily (8am - 12am)

Dubb Kebab Restaurant

After visiting Blue Mosque, we walked about 0.2 miles and decided to take our lunch at Dubb Kebab Restaurant. It is a strategic location as it is just located beside the main road. Nearby got many attractions for sightseeing.

The typical dish in Turkey - is rice, chicken and french fries. It is a bit weird for me when I first landed in Turkey, but after for a few days, I guess I was already used to it then.

Location : Binbirdirek, Peykhane Cd. 34/1-B 34/1 D:B, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
Business hours : Daily (12pm - 10pm)

Muazzam Restaurant

Muazzam Restaurant, typical fish & seafood dishes are offered in a relaxed spot on the Galata Bridge with outdoor seating.

We stopped here for lunch before taking the Bosphorus cruise. To be honest, nothing special about their food. The fish is okay but the rice was undercooked. One thing we like was their French bread that's all. However, if you want to eat while enjoying the view. You can choose outdoor seating.

Location : Yeni Galata Köprüsü Karaköy Haliç Tarafı No:1, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey.
Business hours : Daily (9am - 2.30am)

Street Food
We don't really try much of the Turkish street food. The first one would be the simit (pretzel). It is basically a pretzel with sesame. You can find it everywhere on the street with a red colour stall. I quite like it though.

The next street food would be misir (grilled corn). ideal for savouring while roaming the streets. I guess grilled corn no need further introduction right? lol

Hampton by Hilton Bolu

Hampton By Hilton Bolu is located in Bolu, 30 mi from Seven Lakes National Park. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Each room at this hotel is air conditioned and is fitted with a TV. For your comfort, you will find slippers, free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is a 24-hour front desk at the property and WiFi is provided. The hotel also offers car hire. Aksemseddin Mausoleum is 1.1 miles from Hampton By Hilton Bolu, while Tabaklar Turkish Bath is 1.7 miles away.

The breakfast is on the left and the dinner is on the right. Breakfast is normal buffet style while the dinner was served with the main course along with salad, complimentary bread, fruits and drinks.

Location : Bolu, Merkez Ilcesi, Sandallar Mah, Bolu, 14100, Turkey.

Okie dokie. That's all for Shini In Istanbul itinerary. I will try my best to blog about other provinces soonest (before I'm going on the next trip). So please stay tuned!

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