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Things to do in Istanbul

Top things to do in Istanbul now trending

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Istanbul Classics
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Istanbul
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Istanbul
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Meet Our Gray Line Istanbul Expert

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Gray Line Turkey

Gray Line Turkey’s local experts will take you on a journey through stunningly beautiful Istanbul's iconic historical sights. You’ll visit the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, among much more. We also offer a variety of themed tours such as a Bosphorus cruise to explore the city's history from one of the most important waterways in the world, a food tour to taste the excellent traditional food, and a walking tour to explore the city's rich history. You'll see Istanbul through the eyes of a local expert and leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the city's history and culture.

Tour Expert, Gray Line Istanbul

Insider tips for things to do in Istanbul

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1. Visit the Iconic Hagia Sophia

Possibly the most iconic attraction in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia. This ancient church-turned-mosque-turned-museum-turned-mosque is a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. It's a great place to take the grandkids to introduce them to the history of Istanbul. Recently converted back into a mosque, the Hagia Sophia is open to visitors when there are no prayers. You'll be able to take a guided tour of the Hagia Sophia and learn its storied history and the meaning behind its intricate Christian and Muslim details.  

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2. Explore Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace is the former residence of the Ottoman sultans and stands prominently on the Golden Horn. Our guided tour of the palace will teach you about the history of the Ottoman Empire, show you the grand Harem, baths, and Privy Chamber, and tell all the stories behind the palace's ornate artwork.  

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3. Wonder at the Blue Mosque

The majestic Blue Mosque towers over Istanbul. It was completed in 1616 and the interior is covered in handpainted blue tiles. The mosque has five main domes, six minarets, and eight secondary domes and sits in the same square as the Hagia Sophia. You'll be able to take a guided tour of the mosque and learn about the history and the meaning behind the mosque's intricate details.  

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4. Take a Boat Tour on the Bosphorus

The Bosphorus has been one of the busiest and most important stretches of water in the world for centuries. It divides Europe and Asia and a boat tour is one of the best ways to see Istanbul’s incredible skyline. You'll see the beautiful views of the city, as well as the famous Bosphorus Bridge and the Ottoman palaces.  

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5. Hunt for a Deal in the Grand Bazaar

Put your haggling hat on and dive into the warren of the Grand Bazaar. The market is full of traditional handicrafts, such as rugs and lanterns, and is an excellent spot to have a Turkish coffee and watch the world go by. The iconic Grand Bazaar holds a special place in Istanbul’s culture and is incredibly vibrant.  

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6. Enjoy Panoramic Views from The Galata Tower

Standing 219.5 feet over the neighborhood it’s named after, the Galata tower has served many purposes over its 700 years. It is now a museum and exhibition space. The ramparts are now an observation deck and give panoramic views of the Golden Horn and much more of Istanbul.  

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7. Learn About Ancient Engineering in The Basilica Cistern

Buried deep under the streets of Sultanahmet, the Basilica Cistern is an ancient underground water storage system. 7,000 slaves built the cistern to provide water to the Great Palace, and it continued to be used until relatively recently. The atmosphere inside the cistern is eerie with its grand columns lit up blue and red and you need to be careful — two of the column bases are carved with the face of Medusa.  

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8. Visit the Byzantine Chora Church

The Chora Church, or Kariye Mosque, is an ancient Byzantine church and an excellent example of the period’s architecture. It is adorned with beautiful mosaics and frescoes depicting much of Jesus’s life. While the building has been a mosque since the 1500s, these artworks were left untouched and restored in the 1950s.  

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9. Take a Stroll Through Taksim Square

While Istanbul is full of excellent places to get the iconic baklava, Taksim Square is surrounded by some of the best places to try it with Turkish coffee. The square is full of monuments and is one of the best places to eat or sample the nightlife in the city.  

Top things to do in Istanbul for Families

New Tour
Afternoon Bosphorus Cruise and Cable car From Pierre Loti Coffee House
Boat Tours
Afternoon Bosphorus Cruise and Cable car From Pierre Loti Coffee House
Istanbul
3 Hours
Free Cancelation

New Tour
A Day in a Princes Islands
Boat Tours
A Day in a Princes Islands
Istanbul
8 Hours
Free Cancelation

New Tour
Daily Silver Combo
Day trips
Daily Silver Combo
Istanbul
8 Hours
Free Cancelation

New Tour
Istanbul Daily Gold Combo
Day trips
Istanbul Daily Gold Combo
Istanbul
8 Hours
Free Cancelation

New Tour
Dolmabahce Palace and Two Continents
Day trips
Dolmabahce Palace and Two Continents
Istanbul
3 Hours
Free Cancelation

Byzantine and Ottoman Relics
Day trips
Byzantine and Ottoman Relics
Istanbul
8 Hours
Free Cancelation

New Tour
Bosphorus Cruise and Spice Bazaar - Bus & Boat
Day trips
Bosphorus Cruise and Spice Bazaar - Bus & Boat
Istanbul
3 Hours
Free Cancelation

New Tour
Bosphorus Cruise Plus Dolmabahce Palace and Two Continents
Museums
Bosphorus Cruise Plus Dolmabahce Palace and Two Continents
Istanbul
8 Hours
Free Cancelation

Istanbul Classics
Museums
Istanbul Classics
Istanbul
4 Hours
Free Cancelation

New Tour
Skip the Line Small Group Tour: Istanbul Classics Afternoon
Day trips
Skip the Line Small Group Tour: Istanbul Classics Afternoon
Istanbul
3 Hours
Free Cancelation

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