Top things to do

Top Choice Palace in Sultanahmet & Around

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 15…
Top Choice Mosque in Bazaar District

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 grandest a…
Top Choice Museum in Western Districts

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 museu…
Top Choice Museum in Sultanahmet & Around

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 Con…
Top Choice Palace in Beşiktaş, Nişantaşi & Ortaköy

Dolmabahçe Palace

These days it’s fashionable for architects and critics influenced by the less-is-more aesthetic of the Bauhaus masters to sneer at buildings such as Dolmabahçe. However, the crowds that throng to this imperial pleas…
Top Choice Museum in Sultanahmet & Around

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. Recently renovated, it has a magnificent collection of artefacts, including exqu…
Top Choice Cistern in Sultanahmet & Around

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 ruined …
Top Choice Mosque in Sultanahmet & Around

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 feat…
Top Choice Museum in Beyoğlu

Pera Museum

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

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 to c…