Gaze on Istanbul

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“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.”

-Alphonse de Lamartine

Istanbul is a Paris or Rome level in terms of historical importance and amount of sites to see. Make sure to give yourself at least 3-4 days in this city.

The key in conquering this city is understanding what is on the east side and west side. Istanbul is commonly known as the bridge between the East and West, because of it’s geographical location.

Istanbul map

Note: Sultanahmet, Europe and Asia.

Here is my list of 21 things to gaze upon in Istanbul.


Sultanahmet Square:

The most touristy area of all of Istanbul.

1.) Hagia Sofia – This former Greek Orthodox Christian cathedral was later turned into an Ottoman imperial mosque and is now a museum.

2.) Blue Mosque – Known for its beautiful blue tiles.

3.) Basilica Cistern – Ancient water storage for the Hagia Sofia.

4.) Topkapi Palace – The main residence and administrative complex for the Ottoman Empire.

5.) Bazaars (Grand bazaar & Spice bazaar) – Try your hand at haggling and get followed by persistent store owners. Lots of see!

6.) Mosaic Museum – View the largest mosaic tile floor discovered.

7.) Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts – See the oldest versions of the Quran ever found.

8.) Egyptian Obelisk – Oldest item in Istanbul.

9.) Chora Church –  A beautiful medieval Byzantine Greek Orthodox church.


European Side:

10.) Galata Tower – See stunning views of the city from this tower on a hill.

11.) Taksim Square – The main square for activity on the east side.

12.) Istiklal Avenue – A lively street with lots of shopping!

13.) Istanbul Museum of Modern Art – Get to know the contemporary art scene.

14.) Dolmabahçe Palace – A more modern palace, compared to Topkapi.

15.) Kilic Ali Paşa Hamam – Get a Turkish bath experience, complete with a full body scrub and sauna.

16.) Terrace Bar to watch a sunset – Make sure you know which direction is West.


Asian Side:

17.) Bosphorus Straight Tour – This huge waterway is the main reason Istanbul has been so important to Turkey.

18.) Moda Neighborhood – A chic and artsy neighborhood with a great fish market.

19.) Cihangir Neighborhood – See lots of cats and beautiful, rustic homes.

20.) Prince’s Islands – Büyükada is the most popular of the islands. Rent a bike to get to the other side to hike up to see views and stop by the Aya Yorgi Church.

21.) Maiden’s Tower – A tower on a small island in the Bosphorus built in the medieval/Byzantine era.


To Eat:

  • Tea – Chia
  • Turkish Coffee – Brewed and served with grounds. Make sure to let them settle at the bottom.
  • Simit – Turkish version of a bagel.
  • Turkish Delight – Yummy gummy.
  • Baclava – Sweet treat with nuts.
  • Lahacun – Turkish pizza.
  • Kababs – Lots of options everywhere!
  • All the dips…all of them!

Check out 8 General Tips to get your Istanbul trip planning started.

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