Istanbul Travel Guide
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.
Set in a historic hammam that almost steals the show, the store sells affordable rugs based on antique designs.
Ottoman-style décor, elaborate antique portraiture, deep leather sofas, gilded chairs, crystal chandeliers, palatial marble washrooms, and darkened, private relaxation areas with fully reclining armchairs conspire to make this one of the world’s most opulent airport lounges.
You can cruise between the continents for $1— plus 30¢ for a glass of tea on board—by catching a local ferry at the Eminönü docks on the Golden Horn and taking a leisurely cruise on the Bosporos.
Designed to look like Istanbul’s huge, centuries-old, labyrinthine Grand Bazaar with its colorful carnival of domed buildings, arches, and pillars, the newer and smaller Old Bazaar sells high-quality Turkish specialty items—olive oil, dates, halvah (a Middle Eastern sweet made of ground sesame se
Though it served as the royal residence and seat of the Ottoman Empire for nearly four centuries, this palace isn’t the mighty pleasure dome that many visitors expect.
A sultry waterside club set against the glowing Baroque Ortaköy Mosque.
The art museum in a former customs building was one of the most significant openings in the city's recent history. The collection pales in comparison to the show-stopping views of the city from the café—but that alone makes it worth the trip. The museum shop spotlights cutting-edge creations.
One of the great achievements of Ottoman imperial architecture (it was built by the legendary Ottoman architect Sinan), this stunning 16th-century mosque complex encompasses a hospital, primary school, caravansary, four Koran schools, a medical college, a public kitchen, and the mausoleum that co
Just west of the Grand Bazaar’s central chamber (ic bedestan), this literal hole-in-the-wall shop specializes in silk, mohair, cotton, wool, and fur products like towels, bathrobes, caftans, kerchiefs, duvets, and rugs — all sourced from handcrafters in villages throughout the country.
Sample the goat’s-milk ice cream, which is thickened with the powdered root of wild orchids. Splurge on a triple scoop of pistachio, pomegranate, and black mulberry.
Jewelry has a distinctive Turkish sensibility at this duty-free shop. The designers employ historical Anatolian jewelry-making techniques and motifs.
The Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, and the underground cistern of Yerebatan Sarniçi all reside within the ancient neighborhood.
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 packed with hip types swigging the signature Absinthe Ferrari cocktails.
Security regulations make it all but impossible to watch planes taking off from the airport, but these establishments in the Istanbul International Airport Hotel offer international cuisine, a fully stocked bar, and a fine vantage point for plane-spotting. The bar is open 24 hours.