Istanbul is a vibrant and fascinating city with something for everyone, whether you’re interested in history, culture, food, or shopping. In this article we have collected the must-do experiences for 1 week in this beautiful city of Turkey.
Why to visit Istanbul
There are many reasons to visit Istanbul, here are some of the top reasons:
- Rich History and Culture: Istanbul has a fascinating history and culture. Which has been shaped by its strategic location between Europe and Asia. The city has been home to many different civilizations and empires. Also, there are countless historic landmarks and museums to explore.
- Beautiful Architecture: Istanbul is known for its stunning architecture. From the iconic Blue Mosque to the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, and many other beautiful buildings and landmarks.
- Delicious Food: Turkish cuisine is delicious and diverse. With a wide variety of dishes to try, from kebabs and meze to baklava and Turkish delight. Istanbul is also known for its street food, such as simit (sesame bread) and roasted chestnuts.
- Shopping: Istanbul is a shopper’s paradise. With everything from high-end boutiques to traditional bazaars like the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. Where you can find unique souvenirs and gifts.
- Stunning Natural Scenery: Istanbul is situated on the Bosphorus Strait and has beautiful views of the water and surrounding hills. There are also many parks and green spaces in the city where you can relax and enjoy the outdoors.
- Friendly People: Istanbul is known for its warm hospitality and friendly people. Who are always happy to share their culture and traditions with visitors.
First things to do
Buy your Istanbul Museum Pass
The Istanbul Museum Pass is a card that allows visitors to enter many of Istanbul’s top museums and attractions. Without having to wait in line to buy a ticket. The pass can be purchased for different durations ranging from 3 to 7 days. And provides free access to over 12 museums and cultural sites in Istanbul. Including the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul Archaeological Museums, and the Chora Church.
The Istanbul Museum Pass is a great way to save time and money during your visit to Istanbul. By purchasing the pass, you can avoid waiting in long lines to buy tickets and have more time to explore the museums and attractions. It also offers a significant cost savings compared to purchasing individual tickets for each attraction. The pass is valid for a certain number of consecutive days. Depending on the duration you choose, and can be used at each attraction once. It’s important to note that the pass does not include entry to some special exhibitions. Or events that may require an additional ticket. Overall, the Istanbul Museum Pass is a convenient and cost-effective way to see the top museums and attractions in Istanbul. It’s a great option for visitors who plan to do a lot of sightseeing. And as well want to save time and money.
Buy your Istanbul Metro Card
The metro and public transportation system in Istanbul is really great. We do recommend to buy your metro card (from any of the metro machines around the stations). Depending on how much money you put on it, it allows unlimited use of public transportation in Istanbul. It’s a great option for tourists who plan to do a lot of sightseeing and exploring in the city. The Istanbul metro card can be used on buses, metro lines, trams, funiculars, and ferries operated by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM). You simply load the card with money and swipe it each time you board a vehicle. The cost of each trip is deducted from your card balance.
Things to do in Istanbul – Day 1.
The Mosaiq Museum in Istanbul is a privately-owned museum. It showcases a collection of ancient mosaics and artifacts from the Roman and Byzantine periods. The museum is located in the historical Sultanahmet district. Close to other major tourist attractions such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The museum houses an impressive collection of over 2,000 square meters of mosaics. Including pieces from ancient cities such as Zeugma, Antioch, and Apamea. The mosaics are beautifully displayed in a modern, well-lit setting. That allows visitors to appreciate the intricate details and vibrant colors of the artwork.
In addition to mosaics, the Mosaiq Museum also features a collection of ancient Roman and Byzantine artifacts such as marble statues, columns, and sarcophagi. The museum also has an interactive area where visitors can learn more about the history and techniques of mosaic-making.
The Basilica Cistern, also known as the Yerebatan Cistern, is an ancient underground water reservoir located in the heart of Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet district. Built in the 6th century during the Byzantine era, the cistern is one of the largest surviving structures of its kind and an impressive example of Byzantine engineering. The cistern was constructed to provide water for the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings in the city. It has a capacity of over 100,000 tons of water and is supported by a forest of 336 marble columns, many of which are recycled from older structures and feature unique carvings and designs.
Today, visitors can explore the cistern and see its impressive architecture and artwork. The cistern is dimly lit and has a mystical atmosphere, with water dripping from the ceiling and fish swimming in the shallow pool at the bottom. Two of the most famous columns in the cistern are the “Medusa heads,” which are carved with the face of the mythological Gorgon. The Basilica Cistern is a popular tourist attraction in Istanbul and offers a unique glimpse into the city’s rich history and engineering feats. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in ancient architecture and engineering, as well as those who enjoy exploring hidden underground spaces.
Hagia Sophia is a historic building located in Istanbul, Turkey. It was originally built as a Christian church in the 6th century during the Byzantine Empire and was later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. In 1935, it was converted into a museum by the Turkish government and remained so until 2020, when it was again converted into a mosque.
Hagia Sophia is known for its impressive dome, intricate mosaics, and rich history. It has served as a symbol of both Christian and Muslim power and influence throughout the centuries, and it is considered one of the most important examples of Byzantine architecture in the world. Today, Hagia Sophia is a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from around the globe who come to marvel at its beauty and learn about its fascinating history.
The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a historic mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey. It was built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I in the early 17th century and is named after him. The Blue Mosque is known for its stunning architecture, including its six minarets and its interior adorned with intricate blue tiles, giving it its nickname. The mosque also features a large central dome and several smaller domes, along with beautiful stained-glass windows and intricate calligraphy.
The Blue Mosque remains an active place of worship for Muslims, but it is also open to visitors of all faiths who come to admire its beauty and learn about its history. Visitors are required to dress modestly and remove their shoes before entering the mosque, and women are provided with headscarves if needed. The Blue Mosque is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of Istanbul’s rich cultural and religious heritage.
The Tomb of Sultan Ahmed I is located inside the Sultan Ahmed Mosque complex, which is also known as the Blue Mosque. Sultan Ahmed I, who commissioned the construction of the Blue Mosque, is buried in a tomb within the mosque complex, alongside the tombs of his wife and sons.
The tomb of Sultan Ahmed I is not always open to the public, but visitors can view it from a distance within the mosque. The tomb is located in a separate room off the main prayer hall, and it features an ornate sarcophagus made of white marble.
Güllhane Park is a historic park located in Istanbul, Turkey. It is situated in the heart of the city, next to the Topkapi Palace, and covers an area of approximately 16 hectares. The park has a rich history, dating back to the Byzantine Empire when it was used as a hunting ground for the royal family. Later, during the Ottoman Empire, the park was used as a garden for the Topkapi Palace, and it was also the site of several important events, including the announcement of the Tanzimat reforms in the mid-19th century.
Today, Güllhane Park is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, offering a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park is home to a wide variety of trees, plants, and flowers, as well as several historic buildings, including the Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam and the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Visitors to Güllhanee Park can enjoy a leisurely stroll along its tree-lined paths, relax in its many gardens and green spaces, and take in the stunning views of the Bosphorus and the city skyline. The park is also a popular spot for picnics, family outings, and cultural events, including concerts and festivals.
The Ahırkapı Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located on the European side of Istanbul, Turkey, near the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the city, with a history dating back to the Byzantine era. The lighthouse was first built in the 5th century AD by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II and was later rebuilt and restored several times over the centuries. The current structure dates back to the Ottoman period, in the mid-19th century.
The Ahırkapı Lighthouse stands 23 meters tall and is out of stone and brick. It is still in operation today and serves as an important navigational aid for ships entering and leaving the Bosphorus Strait. Visitors to Istanbul can view the lighthouse from a distance or take a boat tour that passes by the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait to get a closer look. The lighthouse is a popular spot for photographers and history buffs, as it is one of the oldest and most iconic landmarks in Istanbul.
Turkish dervishes are Sufi practitioners who belong to a specific branch of Islam known as the Mevlevi Order or the Whirling Dervishes. They are different by their distinctive form of meditation (sama or sema). Which involves whirling in a circular motion, accompanied by music and chanting.
The practice is said to aid in achieving a state of spiritual enlightenment and communion with God. The Mevlevi Order was founded in the 13th century by the Persian mystic Rumi and has since spread throughout the world. Today, Turkish dervishes continue to uphold the teachings of their Sufi masters and participate in public performances, which have become a popular tourist attraction.
.The most famous place is the Galata Mevlevihanesi, also known as the Galata Mevlevi Lodge. This is the headquarters of the Mevlevi order and features regular performances of the sema ritual. Other places to see dervishes include the Hodjapasha Cultural Center, the Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal Station, and a Monastery in Fatih. We recommend to check the schedules and availability of each place before visiting.
Enjoy our discounts in Istanbul
Useful information about Istanbul
What are the top experiences in Istanbul?
Here are some of the top experiences to add to your Istanbul bucket list:
- Visit the iconic Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque) and marvel at its stunning architecture.
- Explore the magnificent Topkapi Palace, the former residence of Ottoman sultans.
- Take a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait and enjoy the beautiful views of Istanbul’s skyline.
- Visit the Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world’s greatest architectural marvels.
- Shop for spices, textiles, and other souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar. One of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world.
- Visit the Basilica Cistern, an ancient underground water reservoir that once supplied water to the city.
- Watch the sunset from the Galata Tower and enjoy panoramic views of Istanbul.
- Explore the historic neighborhood of Sultanahmet and its many landmarks.
- Take a day trip to the Princes’ Islands and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and beautiful scenery.
- Sample delicious Turkish cuisine, including kebabs, meze, and baklava.
Is Istanbul safe?
Istanbul is generally a safe city for tourists. But as with any city, there are certain precautions that travelers should take to ensure their safety. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and theft, can occur in crowded areas. So it’s important to keep an eye on your belongings and be aware of your surroundings.
When is the best time to visit Istanbul?
The best time to visit Istanbul is during the spring and fall seasons. When the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner. However, each season has its own unique charms. So it really depends on what you’re looking for in a trip to Istanbul.
Best experiences in Istanbul
Istanbul has everything a visitor needs to have a great experience. Its natural beauty draws visitors from around the world- along with its numerous important sites and cultural heritage. As far as things to do in the place go, there are plenty of activities available for visitors.
Dear Traveller! Thank you for reading the latest article from Besides the Obvious. Please do not hesitate to subscribe to our newsletter, if you don’t want to miss our next travel story.