Istanbul Travel Guide

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

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.

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.

The Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, and the underground cistern of Yerebatan Sarniçi all reside within the ancient neighborhood.

Jewelry has a distinctive Turkish sensibility at this duty-free shop. The designers employ historical Anatolian jewelry-making techniques and motifs.

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.

The massive, flashy complex right on the Bosporus is packed with open-air restaurants, but the real draw is the nightlife, which lures millionaires and models, not to mention the beautiful people of Istanbul. No jeans or T-shirts allowed. Closed during the winter season.

Designed by Mahmut Anlar, Istanbul’s hottest restaurateur, this low-lit, sexy, and (yes) long-tabled space is festooned with whimsical bric-a-brac—including a flock of stuffed sheep, vintage Playboy posters, and a glowing white faux-porcelain grand piano.

The labyrinthian Grand Bazaar in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood can be disorienting for shoppers, especially tourists hunting authentic goods at the best bargains. Those seeking old-world jewelry should stop into Can Diamond and Jewel inside Rabia Han in the southeast corner.

Inaugurated in 2004, this converted warehouse, directly on the Golden Horn, is Turkey’s first museum of contemporary and modern art—although in a city that can trace its roots to the late Mycenaean era, “modern” is a relative term, and the collection includes painters from the late 1800s.