5 must see sites in Istanbul
1. Hagia Sophia
This former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica later became a mosque, and is now a museum in Istanbul. Tourists flock to see Hagia Sophia so be sure to arrive early to avoid excessive lines. Be sure to set aside a couple of hours at minimum for your visit. Located in Sultanahmet with a small entry fee.
2. Sultan Ahmed Mosque
Located directly opposite Hagia Sophia is the Blue Mosque (as it is commonly known). This historic mosque was built between 1609 and 1616, making it an exceptional structure to view both from the outside and inside. While you will only need 30 minutes or so inside, the lines can also be excessively long. Arrive early and be prepared to wait. No entry fee.
3. Basilica Cistern
Though a less celebrated attraction, a visit to the underground Basilica Cistern is an absolute must for visitors to Istanbul. In Turkish the name translates to “Sunken Palace”.
4. Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is believed to be one of the biggest (and most celebrated) markets in the world. There are over 3,000 shops and the Bazaar attracts somewhere between 250,000 – 400,000 visitors per day. It is a true spectacle and an absolute must-see for visitors to Istanbul.
5. Bosphorus River
Whether you delight in a Bosphorus cruise (for a very small fee) or find yourself on the waters edge, be sure to take some time away from the busy and bustling city to enjoy the river which separates the European side of Istanbul from the Asian side. This photo was taken from the Asian side, on the grounds of a restored mansion – now a 5 star hotel – Sumahan on the Water.