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Things to do in Istanbul

With such a rich cultural past, there's no shortage of things to do in Istanbul. If you have very limited time in the city, you should concentrate on the historic district and put Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia at the top of your list. If you have a little more time, visit the nearby museums. The Istanbul Archeology Museum is easily accessed through the Topkapi Palace or Gulhane Park. This museum, located in the Eminönü district, is actually a group of three museums, the Archaeology Museum (Arkeoloji Müzesi), the Museum of the Ancient Orient (EskiŞark Eserler Müzesi), and the Tiled Kiosk (ÇiniliKöşk). The Archaeology museum houses sarcophaguses and mummies from the ancient Turkish Empire. It also has a children's museum where the most popular attraction is a life-size rendition of the mythical Trojan horse. 

No travel to Istanbul would be complete without heading over to the city's world-renowned markets, filled with extraordinary tapestries, beautiful ceramic tiles, and unparalleled and colorful fabrics. Your top stop: The Grand Bazaar, which is among the oldest and largest covered markets in the world.

  • A la Turca

    The rapidly gentrifying side streets between Cihangir and İstiklâl Caddesi are lined with shops selling antiques, furniture, and weird-but-wonderfu... More
  • Abdulla

    Responding to complaints from villagers throughout Turkey about large-scale textile production, Metin Tosun opened Abdulla in the center of the Gra... More
  • Anjelique

    A sultry waterside club set against the glowing Baroque Ortaköy Mosque. More
  • Archaeological Museum

    The world-class museum's garden alone begs a look. Inside, there are outstanding ancient sarcophagi, Byzantine sculpture, and Roman busts.   More
  • Artisan

    If Istanbul’s romantic rooftop views work their customary magic, you may suddenly find yourself needing one of costume designer Bilge Mestci’s opul... More
  • Asmalı Mescit

    Lining the narrow, labyrinthine streets behind the Çiçek passage off İstiklâl Caddesi are hundreds of bars, taverns (called meyhane), and outdoor c... More
  • Atasay

    Jewelry has a distinctive Turkish sensibility at this duty-free shop. The designers employ historical Anatolian jewelry-making techniques and motif... More
  • Aviation Museum

    If you have a few hours to kill and feel adventurous, take a five-minute taxi ride to military-aviation paradise: the Istanbul Aviation Museum in t... More
  • Babylon, Istanbul

    The live-music venue that sparked the area’s renaissance. The live acts range from Cuban rap to Turkish folk music—but the club will definitely be ... More
  • Barok Jewellery

    This family-owned Turkish chain sells lovely and unusual pieces that reflect Turkey’s cultural heritage. The designers use precious and semipreciou... More
  • Basilica Cistern

    What Lies Beneath: Eighty-two feet below Istanbul is a 450-foot-long, 213-foot-wide former royal reservoir. This Byzantine engineering feat has 336... More
  • Beymen

    Not only does Istanbul’s chicest set live in the Nisantisi neighborhood in Istanbul, they shop there too. Located one block from the entrance of Ma... More
  • Beyoglu

    Colonized for centuries by non-muslim minorities and foreign traders, the district of Beyoglu (pronounced be-yoh-LU and formerly known as Pera), ac... More
  • Cagaloglu Hamami

    An essential part of any visit to Istanbul is a scrub-down at a hamam (Turkish bath). The top destination for tourists is the 300-year-old Cagalogl... More
  • Can Diamond & Jewel

    The labyrinthian Grand Bazaar in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood can be disorienting for shoppers, especially tourists hunting authentic goods ... More

Explore things to do in Turkey for more options.

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