A sweeping view over Istanbul with a massive mosque in the background

Updated: 10/28/2019 | October 28th, 2019

Istanbul is dwelling to some renowned historical web pages — the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, and Spice Marketplace. They are spectacular, essential historical web pages to see and expertise. But the city also provides lots of entertaining issues to do that have fewer crowds and are a bit off the beaten path.

As essential as it is to check out culturally substantial historical web pages (right after all, there’s practically nothing incorrect with getting a tourist) there is so a great deal additional to just about every location than just the major tourist bullet points.

Of course, you shouldn’t miss Istanbul’s important web pages. But when you have completed them, there are lots of offbeat issues to see and do right here. Right here are my favorites to enable you get began and make the most out of your trip:

1. Descend into the Basilica Cistern

A long hallway down the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

Most travelers stroll on prime of this ancient cavern for days without having realizing it. Immediately after getting into an unassuming doorway you will climb down a gloomy set of stairs, ending up in an underground former water reservoir constructed in the sixth century. It is filled with centuries-old columns and statues and the space is eerily lit in shades of orange. Koi fish swim in the standing water, and you have to stroll on wooden planks to get about. You can hear drips echoing, and there are two mysterious statues with the head of Medusa. It type of feels like you are in a scary film.

Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/three, +90 212-512-1570 yerebatansarnici.com. Open each day from 9am-five:30pm (except religious holidays). Admission is 20 Attempt for foreigners.

two. Discover the Asian Side

Building on the Asian side of Istanbul

Istanbul is the only city in the planet to straddle two continents it spans from Europe to Asia. The Asian side (also known as the Anatolian side) is separated from the European side by the Bosphorus Strait. You can take a bus more than the renowned Bosphorus Bridge, or you can ride more than on a ferry. The city’s major tourist web pages are on the European side, but if you have under no circumstances been to Asia, it is entertaining to cross more than so you can say you have been there. If you are interested in buying, verify out the well known markets in Kadiköy.

Other worthy activities consist of touring the Beylerbeyi Palace, riding up to the prime of Çamlica Hill for extraordinary views of the city, and strolling along Bagdat Caddesi to discover the several restaurants, cafés, and shops.

The ferry will expense three Attempt for a a single-way ticket.

three. Stop by a Actual Hammam

(Image not available—everyone was naked inside!)
Quite a few of the swanky hotels in Istanbul have hammams, otherwise recognized as Turkish baths, but they generally are not the actual deal. They’re produced for Westerners hunting for a cushy and modest expertise. Actual hammams have been a Turkish tradition for thousands of years, and they have served as each a location to cleanse and to socialize. Most hammams are separated by gender, and females normally go topless. You transition by means of various diverse rooms of diverse temperatures, a single getting a hot steam space a great deal like a sauna. You can opt to spend an attendant to give you a thorough scrub-down — it is rough but invigorating! Çemberlitai Hamami is a excellent choice for guests hunting to give the expertise a attempt an additional well known a single is Cagaloglu. Each are positioned in the Old Town.

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Vezirhan Cad. No. eight, +90 552-381-1584, cemberlitashamami.com. Open each day from 6am-12am. Admission begins at 160 Attempt per particular person and goes up from there based on what therapies/solutions you want.

four. Go to the Prince Islands

An offbeat activity is a horse and carriage ride through the streets of Princes' Island

This chain of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul gives a exceptional getaway from the crowds. An effortless day trip throughout the warm months, the islands are just a fast ferry ride from the city. Most travelers check out the 4 bigger islands (Büyükada, the greatest and most well known, Burgazada, Heybeliada, and Kinaliada). You can discover historic buildings, consume at tasty cafés, and see lovely houses as you wander about.

What tends to make these islands particular is that no automobiles are permitted on the islands, generating them very peaceful and quiet and a good break from the noise of the city. You can get about by walking, bicycle, or horse and carriage.

Attempt to take a single of the early ferries in the day so you discover the islands prior to our guests arrive.

The journey by ferry will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes based on what island you are going to. Tickets are five Attempt per particular person for a single journey ticket.

five. Take a Ferry

View of castles taken from the ferry around the Turkish islands

A good way to discover this enormous city is by boat. You will see several boats that offer you paid tours of the Bosphorus, but if you want to save dollars and have additional flexibility, take a normal ferry ride rather. The fare will be less costly, and you will not be competing for space with other vacationers attempting to take images.

You will pass by Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorus Bridge, beautiful mansions, mosques with enormous minarets, other castles and palaces, and additional. You can hop off, consume some fresh seafood, and then head back. It is a spending budget-friendly way to discover without having bumping into other vacationers.

Round-trip ferry tickets will expense 25 Attempt per particular person.

six. Discover Jewish History

Jewish Istanbul

Whilst Turkey is predominantly a Muslim nation, it has a surprisingly extended Jewish history. There are Jewish heritage tours you can take, or you can discover the stops on your personal. Jews have lived in Turkey for thousands of years, but the population seriously grew throughout the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s. Development elevated in 1492 when Spain expelled its Jews and the Ottoman Empire welcomed them as they have been stereotyped as getting excellent organization expertise and wealth.

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Istanbul’s Galata and Balat quarters are steeped in Jewish history and you can discover historic synagogues in each places of town. Istanbul also has a Jewish museum (The Museum of Turkish Jews) that does a excellent job of illustrating the contributions and struggles of Jews in Turkey.

Bereketzade Mahallesi, +90 212-292-6333, muze500.com. Open Sunday-Thursday from 10am-5pm and Fridays from 10am-1pm (closed Saturdays). Admission is no cost, although donations are encouraged. Passport (or other official ID) is essential to enter.

7. Watch the Fishermen on Galata Bridge

Lots of fisherman on Galata Bridge in Turkey on a cold day

Each day, dozens, if not hundreds, of nearby males kind a row along the prime level of the Galata Bridge and fish more than the edge. It is an extraordinary sight. They commit hours hoping to catch fresh seafood, and some of them will sell it to you when they’re nonetheless out there fishing. Quite a few of the males don’t even make a catch they appear to delight in just standing there hanging their pole more than the water.

There’s also a fish industry at the base of the bridge, and the several booths of fresh-caught fish are entertaining to appear at (although it can also be a bit gross).

eight. See the Obelisk of Theodosius

The Obelisk of Theodosius in Istanbul, Turkey

This Egyptian obelisk was carved about 1500 BCE close to Luxor prior to it was pillaged by the Romans and moved to Alexandria. Not extended right after, it was moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul) exactly where it has remained ever considering that. There are effectively-preserved hieroglyphs on all 4 sides which depict Tutmoses III’s victory throughout a battle on the Euphrates River.

The obelisk is generally surrounded by locals relaxing and chatting, and there are usually buskers performing right here as effectively. It is a excellent location to sit back and people today-watch when appreciating this extraordinary historical relic.

9. Snap a Photo with Tombili

The Tombili the cat statue in Istanbul, Turkey

Possibilities are you currently know you Tombili is — you just do not recognize it. Tombili was a street cat from Istanbul who went viral in a meme that showed the cat lounging on the stairs like a particular person would sit on a bench (the meme was known as “chill cat” if you want to appear it up).

When Tombili died in 2016, the nearby mayor had a statue commissioned and it now sits exactly where Tombili’s renowned photo was taken. Thieves promptly stole the statue but, right after a big public outcry, it was returned.

10. Stop by Miniaturk

Small statues and tourists at the Miniaturk park in Istanbul, Turkey

Miniaturk is a miniature park positioned in Istanbul — and it is a single of the biggest miniature parks in the planet. To be sincere, I didn’t even know what miniature parks have been prior to encountering this location. In brief, the park is complete of modest replicas of renowned sights and attractions, produced to a 1/25 scale. There are more than 100 models in the park which includes the Obelisk of Theodosius, the Mostar Bridge, and the Hagia Eirene Church. The park spans nearly 15 acres and there are audio guides obtainable about the park so you can listen and find out additional about every person attraction.

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Örnektepe, +90 212-222-2882, miniaturk.com.tr. Open each day from 9am-6pm. Admission is 15 Attempt.


Istanbul is a extremely significant and crowded city and it can absolutely be intimidating to check out. But it is also dwelling to some fascinating history and tons of exceptional sights and attractions — several of which do not get the focus they deserve.

By adding some of these significantly less-visited attractions into your itinerary you will be in a position to have a a great deal additional exceptional and genuine expertise when nonetheless getting in a position to see all the excellent sights that make Istanbul the eclectic, lovely city that it is.

Book Your Trip to Istanbul: Logistical Guidelines and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Come across a low-priced flight by utilizing Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favored search engines for the reason that they search web sites and airlines about the globe so you normally know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
To discover the greatest spending budget accommodation, use Booking.com as they regularly return the least expensive prices for guesthouses and low-priced hotels. You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most complete inventory. Some of the greatest areas to remain in Istanbul are:

  • Cheers Hostel – This hostel is regularly rated as a single of the greatest in the nation. It is secure, clean, and has no cost Wi-Fi and no cost breakfast.
  • Sultans Inn – This hostel is in a good place, it is clean, and the employees are friendly and useful.
  • Agora Hostel and Guesthouse – This laid back hostel has a good no cost breakfast, no cost Wi-Fi, and a relaxing tooftop terrace exactly where you can take in the views of the city.

Do not Neglect Travel Insurance coverage
Travel insurance coverage will guard you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It is complete protection in case something goes incorrect. I under no circumstances go on a trip without having it as I’ve had to use it several occasions in the previous. I’ve been utilizing Globe Nomads for ten years. My favored organizations that offer you the greatest service and worth are:

  • Globe Nomads (for every person under 70)
  • Insure My Trip (for these more than 70)

Searching for the greatest organizations to save dollars with?
Verify out my resource web page for the greatest organizations to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save dollars when I travel – and I feel will enable you also!

Photo credit: four – NKCPhoto, eight – Erik Cleves Kristensen,9 – Nevit,


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