Istanbul can occupy you for days.
For reference, here's an alphabetical list of all the things to see and do.
Istanbul's Top Sights
are the sights you should be sure
to see, ranked in order of importance and ease
of access. (Here
itineraries for the top
sites, and here are the best things to do with kids.)
the first six sights are close together
Square. You can visit them on
your own, or on Efendi
Istanbul Guided Walking Tour.
Waiting lines to enter the top sights can be very long, but the Istanbul Museum Pass not only makes them shorter, it saves you money! But you have to know how to use it. More...
farther out (Kariye
can easily be visited on a Kariye
& City Walls tour.)
I've also made up self-guided
of the sultans—a must-see. More...
the course of Western architecture;
greatest church in Christendom
for 1000 years. More...
elegant answer to Ayasofya, with
six minarets and blue interior
tiles, one of Istanbul's numerous grand imperial mosques. More...
political and recreational heart
of Byzantine Constantinople
and Ottoman Istanbul. More...
Mosque on the Hippodrome,
a treasure-house of 1000 years
of fine art. More...
palace" of 336 marble columns
which could hold 2,265 cubic
meters (80,000 cubic feet) of
water in case of drought or siege. James Bond was here. More...
medieval "shopping center," with
4000 shops, fun whether you buy
or just browse. More...
snacks and some touristy stuff. More...
romance of 19th-century European Istanbul, not to mention cafés, tavernas, restaurants, music clubs, boutiques... More...
sultan's sumptuous new (1856)
European-style palace on the
Bosphorus—spectacular, if you have the time. More...
perfect 75-minute, half-day or
full-day Istanbul excursion,
up toward the Black
Sea past castles, palaces
and Ottoman-Victorian villages. More...
away to islands with Victorian-era
towns free of motor vehicles:
walk, bicycle, or take a horse-drawn
carriage tour. More...
Want to see whirling dervishes?
Want to visit a hamam (Turkish bath)?
These sights are also important but more difficult
to get to, or of narrower appeal. More...
No matter what their age, there's something to appeal to children in this list. More...
Want to get out of the city? Here are
the best one-day and overnight destinations.
—by Tom Brosnahan