In addition to the top sights in Istanbul, there are many other interesting places to discover places in Istanbul.
Here are 10 of my must-see places in Istanbul to visit
As an “Istanbul connoisseur” you will have certainly visited some of these places before.
As a traveller, you will find interesting places that have nothing to do with the well-known sights such as the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque or the Topkapi Palace.
10 interesting places to visit in Istanbul: insider tips and top sights
1. Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence
Winner of tthe Turkish Nobel Prize for Literature, Orhan Pamuk, has set up a museum dedicated to the plot of his book called “Museum of Innocence”.
The story is about a love affair, affairs and collecting objects as a way out of melancholy.
In the three-story Museum of Innocence, every single item referred to in the book is exhibited as part of a large puzzle. It conveys the melancholy of Orhan Pamuk‘s book.
2. Ortaköy with the Ortaköy Mosque: restaurants, Bosporus bridge and clubs
The Ortaköy Mosque with its view of the Bosporus Bridge is one of the most photographed subjects in all of Istanbul. The restaurants and street food stalls around the mosque are less well known.
Just find something delicious to eat at one of the stalls along the narrow streets to the west of the mosque and sit comfortably on a park bench facing the Bosporus.
3. Street food in Istanbul
Istanbul definitely deserves an entry on the world map of street food lovers and foodies!
Stuffed mussels, freshly grilled fish on the Galata Bridge, krumpir (potatoes), Dondurma and of course a simit are part and parcel of street food in Istanbul. You should try at least some of the delicious dishes originating from Turkey.
My Istanbul Street Food Guide will help you find the best places and dishes.
4. Go to the Beach in Istanbul: The Prince Island of Kinali in the Sea of Marmara
The Prince Island of Kinali is the closest island to Istanbul. By taking a ferry from Kabatas, the 20-kilometer trip to the island takes just over an hour. With the Istanbulkart it is cheap.
The sandy beaches next to the Kinali ferry dock are among the most beautiful in the area. There are also delicious beach restaurants and cafes on Kinali where you can enjoy a good meal. Here is another list of eight beaches (seaside resorts) near Istanbul.
5. Rumeli and Anadolu fortress: Take the second bridge over the Bosporus
The two fortresses were built during the siege of Constantinople. The Rumelian fortress (Roman fortress) should block the western side of the Bosporus and the opposite one, the Anadolu fortress (Anatolian fortress) is situated on the Asian side of the Bosporus.
You will see the two fortresses during a tour of the Bosporus. Some boat trips also include a visit to the Rumelian Fortress.
6. Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi “The Maiden’s Tower”): Lighthouse and restaurant on the Bosporus
The Maiden’s Tower is situated on a small island in the Bosporus. It’s a little closer to the Asian side of the city. From there, boats regularly visit to the former lighthouse.
The Maiden Tower is not exactly an insider tip. After all, it is one of the landmarks of Istanbul. Even so, not too many tourists take the boats to the tower. That is why I am including it here.
7. “The Secret Spots”: Hidden roofs
Those looking for an insider tip in Istanbul have already found it: taking a picture on the roof of Sagir Han. It’s the new “The Secret Spot” since the roof on Büyük Valide Han was closed.
It used to be a little adventure to find the entrance to the Büyük Valide Han and then find someone who would let you go up on the roof. You had to go up the stairs from the north entrance of the Han and ask your way through the various open craft shops. Then you would eventually find someone who knew where Mehdi Bey was. He was the old man who had the rooftop key. He would let you up on the roof for a price of 1 to 10 Turkish lira.
Unfortunately, part of the roof has recently collapsed and Mehdi Bey no longer works there.
The new “Secret Spot” is between the Büyük Valide Han and the Süleymaniye Mosque, so look for the address Sagin Han No. 38. You simply go up a flight of stairs and can easily access the roof of an old building in the old town.
The Kubbe Istanbul Cafe is now aware of it and making good money on this tourist attraction. The entrance fee to take pictures from the roof is now 100 Turkish Lira. You can find out more about this in my guide to the most beautiful viewpoints in Istanbul.
This topic, also known as “The Secret Spot”, is constantly being updated – …!
8. Kadiköy with the Haydarpasa train station and the Bagdat Cadessi on the Asian side
Bagadad Street (Bagdat Cadessi) is a 12-kilometer-long shopping street. It runs from Hayderpasa train station (ferry landing point Karaköy) along the coast to the eastern, Asian side of Istanbul.
Together with Taksim Square and the Beyoglu district on the European side of Istanbul, this street is one of the nightlife hot spots in Istanbul. This also applies to the small streets in Kadiköy, near the Haydarpasa train station.
There is also a lot going on during the day in the many small cafes and restaurants along the Bagdat Cadessi. You should definitely take your time as you walk along the street from Haydarpasa.
Here are more shopping tips for Istanbul and Kadikoy.
9. Seven Hills Roof Terrace: Views of Sultanahmet and the Bosporus:
You can see the roof terrace of the Seven Hills Hotel from the square in front of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace everywhere. The sign next to the terrace has the inscription: “The best View of Istanbul” which I think iss not quite correct. In my opinion, you can get a better view from the Galata Tower.
But from the roof terrace of the Seven Hills, you certainly have the best view of the Hagia Sophia, the entrance to the Bosporus and the square in front of the Blue Mosque.
All you have to do is enter the hotel and take the elevator to the last floor to get access to the terrace. The prices in the adjoining restaurant-cafe are slightly above average. But they are still cheaper than those in Germany.
Another insider tip is the roof terrace of the Arcadia Blue Hotel, directly behind the Blue Mosque. Don’t be put off by the hotel entrance, and just take the elevator to the top floor. The restaurant isn’t expensive either. A main course costs around € 10.
10. Galata Bridge: The lively centre of the city
The Galata Bridge connects the Sultanahmet district over the Golden Horn with Galata and Beyoglu.
I like the bridge for its delicious street food, the restaurants situated at the bottom of the drawbridge and the streets with their hustle and bustle. It’s fun to watch the buzzing Bosporus ferries, the patient anglers next to the roadway and the thousands of people passing by.
Tips for sightseeing in Istanbul
So that you can find all the interesting places in Istanbul, I have drawn them on a map.
At the end of my list, you can find a map of the top sights with the 33 most beautiful sights in Istanbul.
All the places that I have mentioned can be easily reached by public transport. To save money, I recommend that you buy the Istanbulkart. You’ll get a discount on the normal fare.
Be sure to change your money, since all state attractions only accept Turkish lira as a means of payment at their entrances.
In my Istanbul travel guide, you will find many other tips for your next trip.
Istanbul Welcome Card: It is currently the most sensible card for easy access and fast entry to the most interesting sights in Istanbul.