Things to do in Istanbul

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The architecture—dazzling painted tiles, stunning mosaics, intricate stonework, and vaulted ceilings—in Topkapi Palace and the Old City’s mosques, mu... Read More

The architecture—dazzling painted tiles, stunning mosaics, intricate stonework, and vaulted ceilings—in Topkapi Palace and the Old City’s mosques, museums, and ancient cistern is perhaps the biggest attraction for any visitor. But there are several other activities that are even more in-depth, like a walking tour of Istanbul’s off-the-beaten-track eats (Culinary Backstreets) or a personalized dive into the Grand Bazaar (Istanbul Personal Shopper). If a morning perusing the exhibits at the Istanbul Modern capped off with lunch in the museum’s café with a view doesn’t grab you, perhaps a private cruise up the Bosporus and grilled fish at a seaside village restaurant (Zoe Yacht Cruises) will. Outdoorsy types can hike the city’s Byzantine fortifications; food obsessives will want to devote part of a Saturday strolling the aisles and breakfasting at the bustling Ferikoy Organic Market.

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  • Culinary Backstreets Tour in Istanbul Courtesy of Teddy Wolff/Culinary Backstreets
    Culinary Backstreets

    This outfit, founded by two long-term American expats, takes you off Istanbul's beaten track while keeping you extremely well-fed. Culinary Backstreets'... Read More

  • Ferikoy Organic Market in Istanbul David Hagerman
    Ferikoy Organic Market

    This popular farmers’ market sheltered in a covered parking structure lures foodies from Istanbul and beyond with immaculate seasonal produce, fresh... Read More

  • Istanbul Museum of Modern Art in Istanbul Getty Images
    Istanbul Modern Art Museum

    Opened in 2004, Istanbul Modern occupies an 86,000-square-foot former factory building at the edge of Istanbul's buzzy Karakoy neighborhood. Permanent... Read More

  • Istanbul Personal Shopper Courtesy of Istanbul Personal Shopper
    Istanbul Personal Shopper

    American Catherine Salter Bayar marries years of experience in textile and interior design with insider knowledge gained through 20 years’ residence in... Read More

  • Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami Baths in Istanbul Cengiz Karlıova
    Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami

    Every visitor to Istanbul should experience a Turkish bath, even more so if it can be experienced in a venue as atmospheric as this 16th-century... Read More

  • Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul Murat Germen
    Sabanci University Sakip Sabanci Museum

    Ottoman manuscripts and calligraphic compositions form the core collection at this Ottoman-era mansion, donated by the Sabanci family and opened as a... Read More

  • Sultanahmet Old City in Istanbul Getty Images
    Sultanahmet (Old City)

    Plan to devote an entire morning to the historical structures within the walled confines of Sultanahmet, Istanbul's Old City. Start by descending the 52... Read More

  • Walking the City Wall in Istanbul Getty Images
    The City Wall

    Built by Byzantine emperor Theodosius II in the first half of the fifth century, Istanbul's fortifications have withstood battles and earthquakes.... Read More

  • Topkapi Palace in Istanbul Getty Images
    Topkapi Palace

    Mehmet the Conqueror moved into Topkapi Palace—a complex of pavilions, kiosks, kitchens, barracks, and sleeping quarters arranged around a vast... Read More

  • Zoe Yacht Cruises in Istanbul Courtesy of Zoe Yacht Cruises
    Zoe Yacht Cruises

    There are all sorts of ways to see the Bosporus, but the most enjoyable has to be from the deck of your own private motorboat. If you’re looking to... Read More

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