Istanbul has something special for everyone. Whether you’re a history lover, a foodie or a travel enthusiast – the city will not disappoint you. Here are ten fun things to do in Istanbul without skipping the landmarks.
Did you know that a lot of famous brands have manufacturing facilities in Turkey? Thus, products of almost all popular brands are easy to find in Istanbul and that too at affordable prices. From technology to clothing, you can find everything in Istanbul. There are too many options like going to a shopping mall or providing what you need from second-hand stores. Cevahir, Istinye Park, Akasya, Ak Merkez, Kanyon, Zorlu are the shopping malls that attract a lot of tourists in Istanbul.
2- Bosphorus Tour
It is a cruise tour that allows sightseeing of the historical Istanbul on the coastline. You can take it every one hour from Kabataş, Karaköy or Eminönü in spring and summer days, and it depends on the weather in winter days. There are long and short Bosphorus tours. The short one takes 2 hours and the ticket price is 15 Turkish Lira (TL), and the long one takes 6 hours to complete the tour, the ticket fee is 30 TL and includes a meal as well. There are also night entertainment tours including meal, dance and whirling dervish (semazen) shows. The tickets for these events vary between 350-450 TL.
3- Visit Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest bazaars in the world. There were activities even in the 15th century as today. The style of this bazaar has never changed as there is only one rule for you “never accept the first price.” Always haggle with the shop owners because it will be the highest price that you’ll get at first. This one will be fun for you because they will order you a tea or a coffee and try to make a bargain over the price and keep talking until you get convinced!
4- Relish a Turkish Bath
Visiting a Turkish bath known as “Hamam” is a great experience and one of the most relaxing things to do in Istanbul. At least you have to try one time if you visit Istanbul. There are two services in Turkish baths. The one is like self bathe. You bring everything in this service like soap, shampoo, towel, and you bathe yourself. The other one is the traditional Turkish bath. You will be given the necessary things and the bath attendant will wash you and give you a fine massage. Depending on the service you opt for, the prices vary between 140 TL to 280 TL.
5- Wander the Backstreets of Istanbul and Shoot Amazing Photos
If you love street photography, the backstreets of Istanbul are picture-perfect. This mesmerizing city is home to 20 million people and many more cats and dogs. You will capture a different frame every corner here. The city is ideal for photography only if you know where to shoot. For the photographer in you, here are some starting points: Taksim Square, Cihangir, Eminönü, Gezi Park, Galata Bridge and Galata Tower, Beşiktaş, Ortaköy, Kadıköy and Beyazit.
6- Try Turkish Cuisine
Turkish cuisine must be the first thing to try when you step into Turkey. It is more than döner and kebab. Turkish cuisine varies from region to region. You will taste completely different things from different sides of Turkey, but they are all gathered in Istanbul. Manti, borek, kuru fasulye, mercimek corbasi (lentil soup), kuyu kebabi, kuymak, tas kebabi, mucver, patlican musakka, karniyarik, sarma and dolma are the dishes that you can start with.
7- Visit Unique Museums of Istanbul
Another fun thing to do Istanbul is visiting the museums. Istanbul has a lot of museums to demonstrate its past and architecture. The cultural and architecture of the Roman, Byzantine and, Ottoman empires are worth seeing. Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Topkapi Palace Museum, and the Basilica Cistern are some of the must-see places in Istanbul.
8- Enjoy Istanbul Nightlife
Istanbul has a variety of options when it comes to nightlife. From orientalist sira night (sıra gecesi) to clubbing, there is something for everyone. You can either find a quiet place to spend some time or find a place with live music. Other than these traditional entertainments, you can just grab your drink and join the crowds in coastlines in Caddebostan and Kadıköy/Moda Beach, which are always packed during summer nights, although it is an open place. There are also many pubs and bars in well-known districts, such as Beşiktaş/ Akaretler, Kadıköy and of course Taksim.
Bonus attraction: You can have a luxury ferry tour in Bosphorus, which is called “Mehtap Gezisi” in Turkish, offering both relaxing and entertaining time.
9- Walking Routes in Istanbul
Not every activity requires money in Istanbul, and if you want to know the city, take a walk along the streets. Istanbul has routes with amazing views to walk. For instance, start from Kabataş and take a walk through Dolmabahçe, Beşiktaş till Ortaköy. It will take one hour to walk to Ortaköy, but you will feel calm, especially in Dolmabahçe road and with the Bosphorus view. This one is the best walking route on the European side. The one on the Asian side starts at Kadıköy coastline to Moda Beach. You will see a lot of people all along the route having their drinks or enjoying a picnic on the grass. Either you can walk this route, or get a bicycle and start to pedal until Bostancı Beach.
10- The Galata Tower
If you want to see panoramic views of Istanbul, walk all along Istiklal Avenue, and there is the Galata Tower. Constructed in 1348 as a lighthouse, this medieval tower is one of the oldest towers in the world. The landmark is 67 meters high and has a cafe on the 8th floor that offers amazing views of Istanbul. The entrance fee is 25 TL for tourists. Try to catch a seat next to the window!
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