What to do in Istanbul

Activities, attractions and tours
Istanbul which includes heritage architecture, mist or fog and a sunset

Istanbul Attractions

Straddling two continents, home to over 14 million people and with a history stretching back millennia, Istanbul is one of the greatest cities on earth. Here you can sample one of the best cuisines in the Med, explore spectacular historic sites, take a ferry from Europe to Asia and shop in Istanbul’s buzzing markets. The fun doesn’t stop there, however, make sure you also experience the contemporary side of the city in its vibrant nightlife, dynamic creative scenes and its great choice of museums and galleries.

Areas & Neighbourhoods in Istanbul

Sultanahmet – Sultanahmet is home to many of Istanbul’s headlining attractions including the Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace and the Blue Mosque. Compact enough to explore on foot, this historic district is a must see during your time in the city.

Galata – Located across the Golden Horn from the Old Town, Galata is great for shopping and nightlife, though it also has its share of historic attractions. The pedestrianized Istiklal Street, and the roads that run off it, are a good place to start a night out in the city.

Bosphorus – This leafy waterfront district is home to a number of palaces and parks as well as the Bohemian neighbourhoods of Beşiktaş and Ortaköy. A good place to escape the hustle and bustle of central Istanbul, explore this characterful district and sample its charming independent cafes, shops and food stalls.

Princes’ Islands – This collection of nine, car free islands feels a million miles from the hectic streets of Istanbul. A great place for a day trip, you can spend an afternoon strolling through the lush landscape and admiring the impressive wooden mansions that dot the islands.

Things to See in Istanbul

Istanbul’s sights are among the most famous in all of Turkey. From the Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace to the Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cistern, Istanbul has more than enough attractions to keep even the most energetic sightseer happy for days. The Bosphorus and the Golden Horn are also major landmarks of Istanbul and you can take ferries across the waterways to see the city from a different point of view. If you’re interested in Istanbul’s mercantile past, a visit to the city’s Grand Bazaar is a must. Stretching over 61 covered streets and packed with over 4,000 shops, it’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir of your stay in the city.

Things to Do in Istanbul

Thanks to its rich history, Istanbul has a fantastic selection of museums to explore. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum and the Museum of Innocence are among the most popular, though there are plenty more for you to explore. For Shopping, it’s hard to beat the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar, while if you’re looking for a more relaxing experience you can while away an afternoon at one of the city’s many hamams. For nightlife, head to the bars and clubs of Beyoğlu, just over the Golden Horn in the Galata side of the city.

You can also book top Istanbul hotels and great Istanbul package deals right here on Expedia.co.uk.


Explore thousands of activities with free cancellation and no added fees.

Design your experience with airport transfers, excursions, day tours & more.

Get an insider's look in what to book before you travel.


Most fun & popular experiences in Istanbul

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Istanbul


Popular places to visit in Istanbul

Explore areas of Istanbul

Day trip destinations from Istanbul