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Istanbul

76 expert recommended attractions

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Topkapi Palace

Fatih & Sultanahmet 97 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The views are luxurious, the buildings overwhelmingly crafted, and the treasures outrageous. — Let's Go

If you're stuck for time, limit yourself to the main palace and the harem, the most intimate and personal rooms used by the sultans and their many, many women. — Concierge

Few other royal residences match this hilltop compound when it comes to mystery, intrigue, and the lavish intricacies of court life. — Fodor's

In the harem of Topkapi Palace visitors are plunged into a mythical Orient of a thousand and one treasures and as many fantasies. — Michelin 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. — Travel + Leisure

Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum

Fatih & Sultanahmet 92 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Ibrahim Pasa, swept into slavery by Turkish raids in Greece, became the beloved and trusted boyhood friend of Süleyman the Magnificent. — Frommer's

This museum is housed in the former residence of Ibrahim Pasa; this son of a Greek slave became the grand vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent — Michelin Guide

This scarcely visited museum is housed inside the İbrahim Paşa Palace, a building on the edge of the At Meydanı (Horse Square) in Sultanahmet. — Concierge

Holds an extensive collection of carpets, calligraphy, woodwork, stonework and ceramic, glass and metal objects. — Time Out

Süleyman the Magnificent commissioned Sinan to build this grandiose stone palace overlooking the Hippodrome in about 1520 for his brother-in-law, the grand vizier Ibrahim Pasha. — Fodor's

Blue Mosque

Fatih & Sultanahmet 94 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This jewel of the 17C has retained its vocation as a place of worship... the over-riding effect here is one of grace and solemnity. — Michelin Guide

Adorned with over 20,000 blue hand-crafted Iznik tiles, stained-glass windows and the golden brushstrokes of a 17th-century calligrapher, the Blue Mosque is the legacy of Sultan Ahmet I (1590-1617). — Afar Magazine

Only after you enter the Blue Mosque do you understand the name... this mosque feels gloriously airy and full of light. — Fodor's

Intricately decorated with the blue Iznik porcelain tiles responsible for the mosque’s name, this mosque feels a bit like being inside a colossal blue china teapot. — Let's Go

With his eponymously named mosque, Sultan Ahmet I (r1603–17) set out to build a monument that would rival and even surpass the nearby Aya Sofya in grandeur and beauty. — Lonely Planet

Istanbul Archaeological Museums

Fatih & Sultanahmet 94 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

It may not pull the number of visitors that flock to nearby Topkapı, but this superb museum complex shouldn't be missed. — Lonely Planet

Step into this vast repository of spectacular finds... to get a head-spinning look at the civilizations that have thrived for thousands of years in and around Turkey. — Fodor's

The Istanbul Archaeology Museum is housed in three buildings just inside the first court of Topkapi Palace and includes the Museum of the Ancient Orient. — Frommer's

Brace yourself to be dumped on by history. The exhaustive (and exhausting, by the end) collections in Istanbul’s Archaeology Museums display millennia of artistic and cultural... — Let's Go

The world-class museum's garden alone begs a look. Inside, there are outstanding ancient sarcophagi, Byzantine sculpture, and Roman busts. — Travel + Leisure

Dolmabahce Palace

Beşiktaş & Ortaköy 93 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The name Dolmabahçe means "filled-in garden," from the fact that Sultan Ahmet I (ruled 1603–17) had an imperial garden planted here on land reclaimed from the sea. — Fodor's

It has 285 rooms, 68 toilets, 44 halls, and six hamams. — Let's Go

Often overlooked by visitors, this is one of Istanbul's most lavish and extravagant attractions. — Concierge

Generously deployed pomp and riches... provide a certain cohesion, in which it's possible to conjure up the decadent life of a sultan. — Michelin Guide

The extravagant collection of objets d'art represents just a small percentage of items presented to the occupants of the palace over the years. — Frommer's

Suleymaniye Mosque

Fatih & Sultanahmet 95 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Perched on one of the seven hills of Istanbul and dominating the skyline, this complex is considered to be Sinan's masterpiece as much as the grand monument to Süleyman's reign. — Frommer's

Escape the Sultanahmet crowds and head for this impressive and undervisited complex, just a short walk past the University from the back of the Grand Bazaar. — Concierge

Perched on a hilltop opposite Istanbul University, Süleymaniye Camii is perhaps the most magnificent mosque in Istanbul and is considered one of the architect Sinan's masterpieces. — Fodor's

This stunning 16th-century mosque complex encompasses a hospital, primary school, caravansary, four Koran schools, a medical college, a public kitchen, and the mausoleum. — Travel + Leisure

The Süleymaniye crowns one of the seven hills dominating the Golden Horn and provides a magnificent landmark for the entire city. — Lonely Planet

Grand Bazaar

Fatih & Sultanahmet 93 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This labyrinthine and chaotic bazaar is the heart of the Old City and has been so for centuries. No visit to İstanbul would be complete without a stop here. — Lonely Planet

Soon after conquering Constantinople and defeating the Byzantines in 1453, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II commissioned the beginnings of the Grand Bazaar to reinvigorate trade to the city. — Afar Magazine

The Grand Bazaar is a joyful, feverish universe that can overwhelm and unsettle with its thousands of shops and workshops, caravanserais, warehouses, restaurants, fountains, banks and mosque. — Michelin Guide

This massive, dazzling, and cacophonous covered market is the ur-bazaar of the Orient; if you’ve envisioned what it will be like, prepare to have your expectations exceeded. — Travel + Leisure

Take a deep breath and plunge into this maze of 65 winding, covered streets crammed with 4,000 tiny shops, cafés, restaurants, mosques, and courtyards. — Fodor's

Hagia Sophia

Fatih & Sultanahmet 92 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Sophia in Latin, Haghia Sofia in Greek and the Church of the Divine Wisdom in English, this extraordinary building is İstanbul's most famous monument. — Lonely Planet

For almost a thousand years, the Ayasofya was a triumph of Christianity and the symbol of Byzantium. — Frommer's

The Hagia Sophia (or the more beautiful way of saying it, Aya Sofya) is Istanbul in one building. — Let's Go

Don't even dream of leaving Istanbul without visiting this holy trinity of sights. — Concierge

An almost mystical sense of awe... a quite memorable visit! — Michelin Guide

Istanbul Modern Museum

Beyoğlu 89 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Its stunning location on the shores of the Bosphorus and its extensive collection of Turkish 20th-century art make it well worth a visit. — Lonely Planet

One of the most significant openings in the city's recent history. — Travel + Leisure

The Museum of Modern Art of Istanbul, which occupies a former customs' warehouse on the banks of the Bosphorus, was designed by architect Monica Bonvicini. — Michelin Guide

The permanent collection tells the story of modern Turkish art... while a top-notch program of temporary exhibitions features significant local and international contemporary artists. — Fodor's

Though almost every corner in Beyoğlu has its own gallery, Istanbul Modern is the place to get a taste (or a filling meal for the soul) of the city’s contemporary scene — Let's Go

Kariye Museum

Fatih & Sultanahmet 88 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This pumpkin-domed church-turned-museum is one of the great surviving jewels of Byzantine art and architecture. — Travel + Leisure

Chora Church requires some serious ceiling-gazing, cramp-in-the-neck-calming skills—you’ll find some of the most beautiful surviving Byzantine art on the domes above your head. — Let's Go

The original church was built in the 4th century A.D. as part of a monastery complex outside the city walls... but the present structure dates to the 11th century. — Frommer's

İstanbul has more than its fair share of Byzantine monuments, but few are as drop-dead gorgeous as the Chora Church. — Lonely Planet

Tucked away in a far corner of the Old City, just by the Edirnekapı gate, is the tiny Kariye Museum, also known as the Chora Church. — Concierge

Hippodrome

Fatih & Sultanahmet 78 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The Byzantine Emperors loved nothing more than an afternoon at the chariot races, and this rectangular arena was their venue of choice. — Lonely Planet

This vast oblong square dotted with a few obelisks is all that remains nowadays from the prestigious Roman hippodrome — Michelin Guide

It takes a bit of imagination to appreciate the Hippodrome—once a Byzantine stadium for chariot racing with seating for 100,000. — Fodor's

Watching the modestly clothed couples with their children strolling through this park on a Sunday afternoon, it's hard to imagine the centuries of rowdy chariot race. — Frommer's

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Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque

Fatih & Sultanahmet 78 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The small Sokollu mosque was built by Sinan in 1571. Entry is via an extraordinary covered staircase that leads to the inner courtyard, embellished with a traditional sadirvan. — Michelin Guide

Many consider it to be the most beautiful of the mosques built by master Ottoman architect Sinan. — Fodor's

Sinan designed this mosque in 1571, at the height of his architectural career. — Lonely Planet

This mosque is considered to be one of the "minor" works of Sinan, architect to the sultans. But there are several reasons why this mosque is anything but minor. — Frommer's

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Pera Museum

Beyoğlu 84 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Head to this museum to admire works from Suna and İnan Kıraç's splendid collection of paintings featuring Turkish Orientalist themes. — Lonely Planet

The museum’s best-known painting is Osman Hamdi Bey’s strangely funny The Tortoise Trainer, which the Pera bought for $3.5 million in 2004. — Let's Go

A small private museum housed in a grand 1893 building (the former Bristol Hotel), the Pera showcases a diverse range of exhibits. — Fodor's

Set in a lavish 19th-century mansion overlooking the Golden Horn, the privately funded museum stages exhibitions such as a show of Kutahya pottery and Orientalist portraits from the late Ottoman era. — Travel + Leisure

Displays on two floors part of the private collection of the Kirac Foundation. — Michelin Guide

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Galata Tower

Beyoğlu 83 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The neighborhood of Galata, located on a steep hump of land north of the Golden Horn and historic peninsula, actually sits on the earliest foundations of the city. — Frommer's

The hillside location provided good defense, as well as a perch from which to monitor the comings and goings of vessels in the sea lanes below. — Fodor's

Constructed in 1348, it was the tallest structure in the city for centuries, and it still dominates the skyline north of the Golden Horn. — Lonely Planet

A district full of life on the banks of the Bosphorus, culminating in the 68m-high Galata Tower... delightful 360° view. — Michelin Guide

On the 21 March, I climbed the Galata Tower to see if a 470 year old Istanbul love story was true. — Afar Magazine

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Fatih Mosque and Complex

Fatih & Sultanahmet 83 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Fatih Sultan Mehmet II had his namesake built on the ruins of the Havariyun, or the Church of Holy Apostles, which served as the seat of Christianity after the conquest, from 1453 to 1456. — Frommer's

The Fatih was the first great imperial mosque built in İstanbul following the Conquest. — Lonely Planet

This complex consisting of a mosque, religious schools, and other buildings of a pious nature was the largest in the Ottoman empire. — Fodor's

The tomb of the Conqueror—whose bio states that he was poisoned by a Jewish doctor in the service of the Venetian kingdom—lies just outside the mosque. — Let's Go

A visit to the imperial complex of Fatih Mehmet is one of the highlights of any visit to Istanbul. — Michelin Guide

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Basilica Cistern

Fatih & Sultanahmet 82 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Eighty-two feet below Istanbul is a 450-foot-long, 213-foot-wide former royal reservoir. — Travel + Leisure

A journey through this ancient underground waterway takes you along dimly lit walkways that weave around 336 marble columns rising 26 feet to support Byzantine arches and domes. — Fodor's

When those Byzantine emperors built something, they certainly did it properly! — Lonely Planet

Built more than 1400 years ago under the direction of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian—the same guy responsible for the Hagia Sophia—this underground cistern once stored water for the whole city. — Let's Go

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Rumeli Fortress

Istanbul 82 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This citadel was built by Mehmet the Conqueror across from the Anatolia Fortress... in preparation for what was to be the seventh and final Ottoman siege of the fortified Byzantine city. — Frommer's

Just before the Fatih Bridge are the majestic structures of Rumeli Hisarı and Anadolu Hisarı (Fortress of Anatolia). — Lonely Planet

Built on a hill overlooking the water, Rumeli Hisarı is the best preserved of all the fortresses on the Bosphorus and well worth a visit. — Fodor's

The towers and crenellated walls of the imposing ramparts of the Rumeli Hisari (1452) can be seen on the European shore of the Bosphorus, resembling a long stone snake. — Michelin Guide

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Beylerbeyi Palace

Şişli 82 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Like a mini-Dolmabahçe that incorporates a similarly eclectic mix of European and Turkish styles but is smaller, less grandiose, and has more of a personal feel. — Fodor's

Under the bridge on the European shore is the green-and-cream-coloured Balyan Usta Yalı , built in the 1860s by architect Sarkis Balyan. — Lonely Planet

This palace is one of the architectural fantasies of the last sultans. — Michelin Guide

The grounds contain sumptuous pavilions and kiosks, including the Stable Pavilion, where the imperial stud was kept. — Frommer's

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Balik Pazari

Beyoğlu 82 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

A feast of Rococo architecture, the 19C Flower Passage (Çiçek Pasaji in Turkish) has retained its full charm. — Michelin Guide

Located just off İstiklal Caddesi next to the entrance to the Çiçek Pasajı, the Balık Pazarı is a bustling labyrinth of streets filled with stands. — Fodor's

This fish market is a colorful cluster of much more than just fishmongers. — Frommer's

Many of the shops have been here for close on a century and have extremely loyal clienteles – check out Sütte Şarküteri for its delicious charcuterie. — Lonely Planet

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Istiklal Street

Beyoğlu 81 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Running for almost a mile between Taksim Square and Tünel Square, İstiklal Caddesi is the heart of modern Istanbul. — Fodor's

In the late 19th century, this major street was known as the Grande Rue de Pera, and it carried the life of the modern city up and down its lively promenade. — Lonely Planet

Istiklal Caddesi, as it is known in Turkish, is still lined by a number of attractive old façades, including former embassies. — Michelin Guide

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