With its beautiful domes and elegant architecture, Istanbul sightseeing is one of the world’s greatest pleasures. Discover the city's most famous landmarks by chance, or take a guided sightseeing tour past Istanbul's iconic points of interest; whatever your choose, the Turkish epicentre of culture, art and architecture is just waiting to be explored.
Istanbul’s main attractions
The first stop on many an Istanbul travel itinerary is Sultanahmet Square. Here you’ll find Sultanahmet, or the Blue Mosque. This magnificent structure is distinguished by its six slender minarets (most other mosques in Istanbul have only four), and the famous blue tiles that embellish its interior walls. Built in the 17th century, it’s become the city’s most important mosque.
Also in Sultanahmet Square is the Haghia Sophia, another prominent city landmark. First built as a church during the Byzantine Empire, it became a mosque after the Ottoman takeover of the city in the 15th century. Topkapı Palace and the Basilica Cistern are other must-see sights in this central area.
Travellers in Istanbul for several days can also take advantage of the Theodosian Walls Walk - this guided tour is a great way to explore Istanbul's old city and understand its history
For the best of city shopping, head to the Grand Bazaar, which is among the world’s oldest and biggest covered markets. With over 3000 shops across over 60 streets, it’s a fascinating maze and a great attraction to explore, even if you’re not planning to purchase.
Istanbul is separated into its European and Asian parts by the Golden Horn, a natural harbour in the River Bosphorus. Bosphorus cruises are hugely popular with people sightseeing in the city, offering unparalleled views of the magnificent city skyline from the water, particularly at night.