Top 10 Most Liked Attractions in Istanbul [2021]: Tickets & Tours

Istanbul is a unique city with its major role in history as the capital of three succesive empires.

The glorious past of the city is visible mostly in the Historical Peninsula with fancy Imperial Mosques and Palaces, Byzantine churches, excellent museums, great city walls, underground cisterns and many other.

First time visitors of Istanbul usually stay in this area and enjoy the historical wonders which are all close to each other. In this article, we have listed for you the 10 most impressive attractions with insiders suggestions for your visit to magical Istanbul.

This short and effective list will help you determine how to organize your trip, what to see and how to book online tickets and tours for these attractions. Find below links for your online booking, with a special 5% discount for our readers.

1. Topkapı Palace

Topkapı Palace was used as the administrational and educational center of the Ottoman Empire for about 400 years. The palace resembles an open-air museum, has been the home of Sultan Mehmet II and other sultans who came after him until Sultan Abdulmecid. 


Covering an area of approximately 300,000 square meters today, Topkapı Palace complex is among the largest palace-museums in the world. The Harem section is located in the second courtyard of the palace which is optional to visit.


Open the doors of this mysterious world and take a journey through the mystical corridors of the Harem. Learn more details about the palace Topkapi in our article dedicated article.


Tickets & Tours : Book one of the 2 most popular tickets for entrance and tours, with a discount of 5%.

2. Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque was built by Sultan Ahmet I. with the design of Architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga in 17th century. It is especially famous for its 6 elegant minarets and beautiful blue tiles decorating the interior space. Ιts interior includes 29.000 floral-shaped handmade İznik tiles and 200 colorful windows with unique patterns.


Standing directly across from the majestic Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque looks as if it was designed to compete with it. Visited by almost all tourists who come to Istanbul, it is a very important attraction of the city you shouldn't miss. Read more history details about the place in our article dedicated to the Blue Mosque of Istanbul.


Guided Tour : Get a guided tour of the mosque and the Sultanahmet square to really understand the history that carries the area since centuries. Check tour tickets with English speaking historian with a discount of 5% here :

3. Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is and should be on every traveler's itinerary in Istanbul. It was built 3 times in history at the same location and served as a Greek Orthodox cathedral until the end of Byzantine Empire.


As can be understood from the minarets, it also served as an important place of Muslim worship. That was after Sultan II. Mehmed designated the building as a mosque following the conquest of Constantinople in 1453.


This is an exceptional monument once considered as the 8th wonder of the world with its mosaics from the Byzantine period, its huge dome, decorative and functional elements added during the Ottoman period, and its endless mysteries. After many years serving as a museum, you can now visit it as a mosque.


Read more history details about the place in our article dedicated to Hagia Sophia.


Guided Tours : Our advice would be to get a guided tour of Hagia Sophia. Here are 2 types of very popular guided tours in English, available with a 5% discount.

4. Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar in Istanbul in Turkey

Grand Bazaar was built as a first covered market in 1461 after the conquest of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmet II. Experience the old Ottoman atmosphere in the Grand Bazaar, a huge building that has preserved its authentic identity, unlike today's modern shopping malls.


Each quarter is specialized in a particular kind of merhandise in Grand Bazaar. This is the reason why each street has the name of a particular type of merchandise. Read more history details about the bazaar in our dedicated article of the Grand Bazaar.


Walking Tour : What about discovering Spice Market and Grand Bazaar with our guided walking tours ? An adventurous trip to historical markets and rooftops with the best views in Istanbul available here with a 5% discount:

5. Süleymaniye Mosque

Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul Turkey -  Istanbul Tourist Information

The Ottoman Empire reached its widest limits during the 47-year reign of Sultan Suleiman. He wanted to build the most important monument of this period.


Suleymaniye Mosque (Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent) is among the most sumptuous imperial mosques in Istanbul and Turkey. It was built with the order of Suleiman the Magnificent by the Architect Sinan between 1550 and 1557. 


Just like many imperial mosques in the city, Süleymaniye was also built as a complex with many buildings with a mosque in the center. The Suleymaniye Complex contained a library, an education institute, the tombs, a hospital and a hospice for the poor.


Read more history details about the Süleymaniye Mosque in our dedicated article.

6. Galata Tower

Galata Tower in Istanbul in Turkey - Istanbul Tourist Information

Galata Tower is the most important building that was remained from the Genoese colony in Istanbul, first built in the 14th century.


The tower rises at the top of the Galata Walls, at the entrance of the Golden Horn. It has been restored many times and used for different purposes. Its location overlooking the Golden Horn makes it visible and memorable for centuries, perfectly in harmony with the fabric of the city.


One can feel the European atmosphere in this part of the city, when approaching the iconic tower on the small streets with brick road, small boutiques and cafes. Read more history details about the Galata Tower in our dedicated article.


Tickets & Tours : Find below tickets to go on top of this landmark of Istanbul. Up there, you will see the most amazing view available in the whole city. We also suggest you to book a guided tour to get to know the historical background of Galata Tower and the historical Pera neighbourhood with a lot of gems. Tours and tickets to the Galata Tower below, with a 5% discount!

7. Spice Market

Spice Market or Egyptian Bazaar is standing right behind the New Mosque in Eminonu square. It was indeed built as part of this mosque complex in 1660 by Hatice Turhan Sultan.


The name of the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar) is based on the goods, especially the spices that came from Egypt and were sold here. Also, the building was originally funded with taxes on imported Egyptian goods. A large part of the around 100 shops consist of traditional spice merchants. Read more history details about the Spice Market in our dedicated article.


Walking Tour: What about discovering Spice Market and Grand Bazaar with our guided walking tours ? An adventurous trip to historical markets and rooftops with the best views in Istanbul available here with a 5% discount:

8. Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul in Turkey - Istanbul Tourist Information

Dolmabahce Palace is lying on the southern shore by the Bosphorus in Besiktas district. It was built in the mid 19th century and had been the residence of the last 6 Ottoman Sultans for varying amounts of time.


It is the biggest palace in Turkey and also among the largest palaces in the world, covering an area of 45,000 m2 (11.1 acres). The form of the palace was highly influenced by European architectural styles such as Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical.


After Atatürk’s death, the Dolmabahçe Palace was renovated and converted into a museum. However, it is still used for official functions such as state visits. Read more history details about the Dolmabahçe Palace in our dedicated article.


Tickets : Get your discounted VIP skip-the-line ticket to the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul and enjoy a guided tour in English with an historian expert of the place. 

9. Basilica Cistern

Cocktails in the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

There is another mysterious world under the houses and structures we see especially in the Historic Peninsula. Only a few of the underground water cisterns are open to visitors today and the Basilica Cistern is the largest and best excavated. 


Located to the west of Hagia Sophia, the cistern had a capacity of holding 80.000 cubic meters of water. The Basilica Cistern was the scene of several international movies. Among others, scenes from James Bond’s “From Russia with Love” with Sean Connery and Dan Brown’s “Inferno” with Tom Hanks. Read more details about the Basilica Cistern in our dedicated article.


Tickets & Combo : Get your discounted entrance ticket to the Cistern Basilica in Istanbul and enjoy a guided tour in English with an historian expert of the place. Also, you can get a VIP Combo Ticket including tickets and tours to Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.


Important : The Citerne is currently closed due to the ongoing restoration activities but you can still get a guided tour of the 1001 Cistern just next to it.

10. Bosphorus Cruise

Bosphorus Cruise is definitely a must-do experience for every traveler in Istanbul

Discover the most magnificent landmarks, both in the Asian and the European side of Istanbul by embarking on an epic and nostalgic journey on a boat cruise !


See the nostalgic mansions, imperial palaces and many other fancy buildings leaning against lush groves all lined up in front of the deep blue Bosphorus.


They are many different Bosphorus Cruises available in Istanbul, provided by different companies. We prepared you a comparative article of each Bosphorus cruises in Istanbul so that you can make your choice according to your needs. 


For Online Bookings : Check special “Bosphorus Cruise” offers with the best prices and the best service quality.

Plan your trip to Istanbul with experts

Let us help you design your trip to Istanbul according to your unique situation and desires. With our experience of 25 years and our network, we will get you the best prices for hotels and activities.

Location of the Attractions

The most important attractions of Istanbul are situated around Sultanahmet Square. These include, for example, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cistern. 


The Galata Tower and Dolmabahce Palace are part of the Beyoglu and Besiktas districts north of Galata Bridge.

Discount tickets

  • Istanbulkart: Rechargeable discount card for public transportation
  • Istanbul Welcome Card: Fast Track Entry to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Istanbulkart, and Bosphorus Cruise. Shop now.
  • Istanbul Museum Pass: Admission to state-run museums in Istanbul. Shop now.

Holidays: It is best to check opening hours on Turkish holidays. During these days, the museums are usually very crowded.

Age: Children up to the age of 6 usually have free admission to museums. That depends on the respective attractions.


Experiences and Attractions


From Bosphorus to Hagia Sophia

The Topkapi Palace, whose name is derived from the vernacular and literally means "Cannon Gate Palace ", ...

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Follow your nose! The Spice Bazaar, also called Egyptian Bazaar, is known for its many scents and ...

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The Süleymaniye Mosque is one of the most magnificent mosques in Istanbul. Perched upon the third hill ...

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The once mightiest church of early Christianity is considered the eighth wonder of the world due to ...

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The Grand Bazaar has always been the heart of the bustling and flourishing business life of the ...

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The Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) is hard to miss. Perched in the medieval Genoese settlement Galata, it ...

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The magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace dates back to the time of Sultan Abdülmecit I, who entrusted the construction ...

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The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) is considered to be the largest and most magnificent mosque in Istanbul ...

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The Yerebatan Cistern, also known as the "Sunken Palace" due to its Turkish name, is a water ...

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It is almost impossible to feel the enchanting spirit of Istanbul without embarking on an epic and ...

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