Top ChoicePalace in Sultanahmet

Topkapı Palace

Topkapı Palace

Topkapı is the subject of more colourful stories than most of the world's museums put together. Libidinous sultans, ambitious courtiers, beautiful concubines and scheming eunuchs lived and worked here between the...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Sultanahmet

Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya

There are many important monuments in İstanbul, but this venerable structure – which was commissioned by the great Byzantine emperor Justinian, consecrated as a church in 537, converted to a mosque by Mehmet the...

Top ChoiceMuseum in The Golden Horn

Kariye Museum (Chora Church)

Kariye Museum (Chora Church)

İstanbul has more than its fair share of Byzantine monuments, but few are as drop-dead gorgeous as this mosaic- and fresco-laden church. Nestled in the shadow of Theodosius II's monumental land walls and now a...

Top ChoiceMosque in Bazaar District

Süleymaniye Mosque

Süleymaniye Mosque

The Süleymaniye crowns one of İstanbul's seven hills and dominates the Golden Horn, providing a landmark for the entire city. Though it's not the largest of the Ottoman mosques, it is certainly one of the...

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Sultanahmet

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

This subterranean structure was commissioned by Emperor Justinian and built in 532. The largest surviving Byzantine cistern in İstanbul, it was constructed using 336 columns, many of which were salvaged from...

Top ChoiceMosque in Sultanahmet

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

İstanbul's most photogenic building was the grand project of Sultan Ahmet I (r 1603–17), whose tomb is located on the north side of the site facing Sultanahmet Park. The mosque's wonderfully curvaceous exterior...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Beyoğlu

Pera Museum

There's plenty to see at this impressive museum, but its major draw is undoubtedly the 2nd-floor exhibition of paintings featuring Turkish Orientalist themes. Drawn from Suna and İnan Kıraç's world-class private...

Top ChoiceMarket in Bazaar District

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

The colourful and chaotic Grand Bazaar is the heart of İstanbul's Old City and has been so for centuries. Starting as a small vaulted bedesten (warehouse) built by order of Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461, it grew...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Sultanahmet

İstanbul Archaeology Museums

İstanbul Archaeology Museums

The city's foremost archaeological museum is housed in three buildings close to Topkapı Palace. There are many highlights, but the sarcophagi from the Royal Necropolis of Sidon are particularly striking....

Top ChoicePalace in The Bosphorus Suburbs

Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace

These days it’s fashionable for architects and critics influenced by the less-is-more aesthetic of Bauhaus masters to sneer at buildings such as Dolmabahçe. However, the crowds that throng to this imperial palace...

Top ChoiceMarket in Kadıköy

Kadıköy Produce Market

Kadıköy Produce Market

An aromatic, colourful and alluring showcase of the best fresh produce in the city, the Kadıköy Pazarı is foodie central for locals and is becoming an increasingly popular destination for tourists. Equally...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Sultanahmet

Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts

This Ottoman palace was built in 1524 for İbrahim Paşa, childhood friend, brother-in-law and grand vizier of Süleyman the Magnificent. It now houses a splendid collection of artefacts, including exquisite...

Top ChoiceMuseum in The Golden Horn

Rahmi M Koç Museum

This splendid museum is dedicated to the history of transport, industry and communications in Turkey. Founded by the head of the Koç industrial group, one of Turkey’s most prominent conglomerates, it exhibits...

Top ChoiceMarket in Bazaar District

Spice Bazaar

Vividly coloured spices are displayed alongside jewel-like lokum (Turkish delight) at this Ottoman-era marketplace, providing eye candy for the thousands of tourists and locals who make their way here every day....

Top ChoiceMuseum in Beyoğlu

Museum of Innocence

Museum of Innocence

The painstaking attention to detail in this fascinating museum/piece of conceptual art will certainly provide every amateur psychologist with a theory or two about its creator, Nobel Prize–winning novelist Orhan...

Top ChoiceStreet in Beyoğlu

İstiklal Caddesi

Once called the Grand Rue de Pera but renamed İstiklal (Independence) in the early years of the Republic, Beyoğlu's premier boulevard is a perfect metaphor for 21st-century Turkey, being an exciting mix of...

Top ChoiceGallery in Beyoğlu

İstanbul Modern

İstanbul Modern

This lavishly funded and innovative museum has an extensive collection of Turkish art and also stages a constantly changing and uniformly excellent program of mixed-media exhibitions by high-profile local and...

Top ChoicePalace in The Bosphorus Suburbs

Beylerbeyi Palace

This opulently furnished 1865 building was designed by Sarkis Balyan, brother of Nikoğos (architect of Dolmabahçe Palace). It delighted both Sultan Abdül Aziz (r 1861–76), who commissioned it, and the many...

Park in Sultanahmet

Hippodrome

The Byzantine emperors loved nothing more than an afternoon at the chariot races, and this rectangular arena alongside Sultanahmet Park was their venue of choice. In its heyday, it was decorated by obelisks and...

Church in The Golden Horn

Patriarchal Church of St George

Patriarchal Church of St George

Dating from 1836, this church is part of the Greek Patriarchate compound. Inside the church are artefacts including Byzantine mosaics, religious relics and a wood-and-inlay patriarchal throne. The most...