Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city, a blend of European and Middle East culture alongside an assortment of top tourist attractions that will amaze and astound those of all ages. Through a number of archaic buildings, from churches, Basques and cathedrals, Istanbul salutes its decorated history whilst a newer, contemporary feel has been erected throughout the city at the same time.

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The ‘Big Four’ attractions, all listed here, are must-visits on a trip to Istanbul, but getting out and about, particularly around the Old City district, can throw up a number of surprises and hidden gems that lie off the well-beaten path.

Top Sights

Istanbul is a fast-moving, unique city and it is important to have¬†holiday insurance¬†in place before visiting. It can get crowded, particularly around some of the city’s largest, most expansive attractions, such as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia (also known as Aya Sofya), two grand mosques which stand almost facing each other. The Blue Mosque, with its six minarets, is a prominent house of worship and is centuries old. Elsewhere, Hagia Sofia is the prime tourist attraction, another archaic structure that was once the largest cathedral in the world.

Topkapi Palace, like so many of Istanbul’s prized assets, paints a picture of history and architecture, combining styles heralded during the Ottoman Empire and is sat on the banks of the Marmara and the Golden Horn. It is a little spot, full of unique treasures and a number of guided tours and walks will endeavour to take it all in.

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Dolmabahce Palace adds something a little more contemporary to proceedings and this plush building, built in the 19th-century, is a fervent example of Istanbul’s diversity, with its Ottoman-inspired architecture mixed with obvious signs of European Neoclassical influences and its interior features a large chandelier, a gift from Queen Victoria.

Things To Do

The Grand Bazaar is free to all those wishing to peruse and browse and features over 5,000 stalls and shops, making it one of the largest indoor markets on the globe. Again, it is a must-visit for those looking to feel the full force of the Turkish culture and proud history that comes with it.

Istanbul’s Archaeology Museum goes hand-in-hand with many of the city’s top attractions with its dedication to the country’s famed history. It sits conveniently close to Topkapi Palace and features a section dedicated to Alexander the Great as well as a golden sarcophagus and a model Trojan Horse. The museum’s accentuated fixation with places other than just Turkey makes it incredibly popular and further establishes the city’s love affair with foreign influences and a selection of different cultures and styles, all masquerading under one roof.