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museums, palaces, mosques

There are many museums in Istanbul: Topkapi Palace (closed on tuesdays), Byzantine Hippodrome (open everyday), Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) Mosque, Blue Mosque (open everyday), Underground Cistern (open everyday), Grand Bazaar (closed on sundays & holidays), Spice market (closed on sundays & holidays), Dolmabahce Palace (closed on mondays & thursdays), Beylerbeyi Palace on the Asian side (closed on mondays & thursdays), Archaeological museum (closed on mondays), Turkish & Islamic Arts museum (closed on mondays), Kariye Chora museum (closed on wednesdays), Sadberk Hanim museum (closed on wednesdays), Mosaics museum (closed on mondays), Rumelihisari Fortress (closed on mondays), Suleymaniye mosque (open everyday), Military museum (closed on mondays & tuesdays), Naval museum (closed on mondays & tuesdays), Modern Arts museum (closed on mondays), Miniaturk (Turkey in miniatures, open everyday), Rahmi Koc Industry museum (closed on mondays), Sabanci Arts & Calligraphy museum (closed on mondays), Santralistanbul electric museum (open everyday), Yildiz Palace (closed on mondays & thursdays), Galata tower (open everyday), Eyup mosque (open everyday), Sokollu Pasha mosque (open everyday), Rustem Pasha mosque (open everyday), Fethiye Pammakaristos museum (closed on wednesdays). Jewish Heritage tours are also possible with a special permission and advance reservation only.

other sites

Besides the above museums, palaces and mosques to visit, other interesting sites to go or things to do in Istanbul are: a Turkish coffee at the Cafe Pier Loti (open everyday), waterpipe in a cafeteria at Tophane or in Sultanahmet area, a leisure cruise on the Bosphorus (everyday, approximately 1,5hrs), horse carriages on the Princess Islands, the Whirling Dervish ceremony (only on the 2nd & last sunday of each month). Some other interesting neighborhoods where you can see local people and life are; Ortakoy, Taksim - Pera, Nisantasi, Moda and Bagdat Caddesi (Avenue) on the Asian side.


There are many old and traditional bazaars in Istanbul, such as; Grand Bazaar, Egyptian Spice Market, Arasta Bazaar, Sahaflar (book) Bazaar, Kumkapi Fish market, Sariyer Fish Market, Beyoglu Flower & Food market (Cicek Pasaji), and so on. There are also weekly bazaars settled in every neighborhood of the city on one day of the week, frequented mostly by local people.

Istanbul has several modern shopping malls with international and national brand names as well. These are mainly located in the new part of the city, and are open every day of the week usually between 10:00 - 22:00. Some of these shopping centers are: Akmerkez, Metro City, Kanyon, Istinye Park, Meydan, Galleria, Carousel, Olivium, Capacity, Atrium, Capitol, Profilo, Mayadrom, Tepe Nautilus, Cevahir, Dogus Power Center, Astoria, Polcenter, Boyner, Carrefour, Bauhaus, Praktiker, Gotzen, Metro, Bricolage, Ikea, etc.

turkish baths

If you want to relax in a traditional way, you can try a Turkish bath (hammam) with a massage. Some of the old Turkish baths in Istanbul are: Cemberlitas, Cagaloglu, Galatasaray, Suleymaniye, Cardakli, Sofular, Buyuk, Aga, and Eski hammam. Some hotels have a Turkish bath too but it's not the same thing, the original is always much better.


If you like the nature, there are several public gardens or natural sites in Istanbul; Emirgan park, Yildiz park, Hidiv kiosk park, Belgrade forest, Sultanahmet park, Ataturk's Arboretum, and Polonezkoy village. You should also see the shores of the Bosphorus, preferabily with a boat cruise. Don't also forget that tulips are originated from Turkey (not from Holland) and every year there is a tulip festival in Istanbul.

© Burak Sansal 2006–2024, licensed professional tour guide in Turkey.