Site Search
RIVOS TOUR & TRAVEL AGENCY - ISTANBUL / TURKEY

Some Great Things to See and Do in Istanbul During Your Holiday

So you’re travelling to Istanbul and you have no idea where to begin. That’s understandable, the city is massive it spans two continents and it has so much to offer in terms of mosques, markets, museums and foreign culinary delights!

Here are Top Things to Do in Istanbul to get your travel planning started.

Listen to the call of prayer between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia

The most beautiful call of prayer listened to took place between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. One muezzin would sing out part of the prayer and then the second muezzin would respond from the other minaret. It was a magical thing to experience, so if you find yourself in the area during prayer time, We suggest you grab a seat at one of the park benches and just listen.

Marvel at Hagia Sophia

This architectural wonder has a long history which has seen it go from Eastern Orthodox cathedral, to Roman Cathedral, back to Eastern Orthodox cathedral, to mosque, and now it’s a museum. The exterior may not seem too impressive, but once you’re inside and you catch a glimpse of the heavenly domes and ancient mosaics, you will be in awe.
blank

Visit Little Hagia Sophia

The Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus, also known as Little Hagia Sophia, is a former Eastern Orthodox church. It is believed that this church was built as an architectural experiment by the same architects who would go on to build Hagia Sophia shortly after.
blank

Visit the Spice Bazaar

This is the second largest covered market after the Grand Bazaar. Here you’ll be able to pick up spices, nuts, dried fruit, Turkish coffee, loose leaf tea, and even Turkish delight!
blank

Go to a Whirling Dervish Show

Turkey is home to the Mevlevi Order of Sufi whirling dervishes. The dervishes spin themselves into a trance-like state that brings them closer to God, and it’s a unique religious ceremony to witness.
blank

Eat a Kumpir

A kumpir is a loaded baked potato. The server will mix the potato with cheese and butter until it’s light and fluffy, and then you can choose from an assortment of toppings including olives, hot dogs, pickles, corn, peas, bulgur and more. It’s the perfect snack to go.
blank

Turkish baths (hamams) are a great escape for all seasons

If you’re ready to shed your inhibitions, then head over to the Turkish bath. For the full experience you’ll want to opt in for the body scrub and massage. Don’t worry, the hamam is segregated into male and female only areas.
blank

Ride the red tram in Istanbul

One way to see Istiklal Avenue without having to weave your way through the crowds is to ride the streetcar from one end of the strip to another. The streetcar has a decidedly vintage feel and it makes for a pleasant journey through Istanbul’s shopping hub.
blank

Walk across Galata Bridge

You could very well ride the light rail across, but if you choose to walk, you’ll get to see all the locals fishing from the bridge, the vendors selling sesame covered pretzels, and the boats carrying passengers down the Bosphorus.
blank

Eat a sesame seed covered pretzel

You can pick up one of these tasty pretzels at any bakery in town, but we suggest you grab one from the little red stands along Istiklal Avenue. It just adds to the experience.
blank

Take a boat tour down the Bosphorus

If you only have a few brief days in the city and you know you won’t be able to cover all of the main attractions, taking a cruise down the Bosphorus is a great way to get a glimpse of Istanbul’s main points of interest. You’ll ride past Dolmabahce Palace, the Rumeli Ruins, the Maiden’s Tower, and many mosques, mansions, and gardens along the way.
blank

Order Turkish chicken breast pudding

There is nothing appetizing about the thought of this dish. Chicken for dessert? Tavuk Gogsu, as the dish is known, is prepared by boiling chicken breast in water and then shredding the meat into small fibrous pieces. The meat is then boiled again, this time with milk, sugar, vanilla, cornstarch and rice flour. The end result is a sweet pudding which you can top off with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
blank

Drink Turkish tea

If you come to Istanbul you have to drink tea out of a tulip-shaped glass. Turkish tea is prepared in a rather unique way using a teapot that has two level: one to boil the water, and the other to brew the tea. You then pour the tea into the glass and dilute it with the hot water so that it’s made to your taste.
blank

Eat Borek

Borek is a traditional Turkish pastry made of flaky dough. It can be stuffed with feta cheese or minced meat as a savoury treat, or if you prefer something sweeter, you can eat it plain with a little bit of icing sugar sprinkled overtop.
blank

Visit underground at the Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is the largest of the ancient underground water cisterns found across Istanbul. Most of the columns in the cistern appear to have been recycled from the ruins of other buildings, and among them you’ll find two carvings of Medusa’s head used as column bases, as well as a column with tear shaped engravings believed to have the power to make your wishes come true.
blank

Sample Turkish Delight

An old Turkish aphorism tells one to “eat sweetly and speak sweetly”. Sweets have always been an important component of Turkish cuisine. The origin of Lokum -Turkish Delight- dates back to the time of the Ottoman Empire.
blank

Indulge your sweet tooth with Baklava

The Turks really know what they are doing when it comes to sweets. Baklava is made with layers of phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. Forget the scones and clotted cream; this is what you need at tea time!
blank

Drink a glass of Ayran

This is one of those drinks that you either love or hate. Ayran is considered the national drink in Turkey and it is a cold yogurt beverage mixed with salt. It’s especially popular during the summer months.
blank

Test your bargaining skills at the Grand Bazaar

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is a place for serious shoppers. With more than 3,000 shops and covering an estimated 61 streets, this place is dizzying yet so worth a visit. You’ll notice that some streets specialize in certain goods with those shops selling nothing but leather, silverware, carpets, ceramics or spices. There will be lots of glittery things to catch your eye, so you may want to come prepared to spend.
blank

Smoke Hookah

Argilah, nargile, sheesha, hubbly bubbly – whatever you call it, there is an ample supply of hookah bars in Istanbul where you can lounge around while you smoke the water pipe and sip on a class of tea or coffee.
blank

Eat a Doner

Doner is a Turkish dish made with meat cooked on a spinning vertical rotisserie. The meat can be lamb, beef, or chicken, and it’s served in a pita with vegetables and a few toppings. It’s a tasty and affordable lunch which you can find in any part of the city.
blank

Enjoy the view from Galata Tower

Located in Beyoglu, this tower looks like it would be better suited as Rapunzel’s home in a fairy tale. There is something magical about the pointed cylindrical roof, and the views from the outer balcony are breathtaking.
blank

Buy a glass lamp

The colourful glass lamps you’ll see hanging in almost every establishment in the city make a great souvenir to take back home.
blank

Dine with the best view of Istanbul

If you want a restaurant with a great view that won’t break your wallet, We recommend Hamdi Restaurant . The 180-degree views showcase the Suleymaniye Mosque, Rustempasa Mosque, Galata Tower, and the Bosphorus. Not only that, but they make a delicious kofte and roasted eggplant.
blank

Visit Beylerbeyi Palace

This palace, whose name means Lord of Lords, is situated on the Asian side of Istanbul. The palace was built along the banks of the Bosphorus and it was used as the summer residence by the Ottomans.
blank

Go to a Belly-Dancing Show

Spend an evening in the company of belly dancers, traditional Anatolian folk musicians, and oriental singers.
blank

Visit Istanbul Archaeological Museums

The Istanbul Archaeological Museums actually consists of 3 different museums which are located near Topkapi Palace. These are the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and the Museum of Islamic Art. If you enjoy getting up close with history, you’ll enjoy a visit here.
blank

Visit the Chora Church

The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora may not be the largest of the Byzantine churches, but it’s certainly known for being one of the most beautiful. The highlight are the various mosaic panels which recreate biblical scenes and still dazzle centuries later.
blank

See the Valens Aqueducts

When the Romans passed through Istanbul, they began construction of a water system that would supply the city’s growing needs for fresh water. The water that travelled down these aqueducts was stored in open reservoirs and underground cisterns across the city. Today, the surviving section of the Valens Aqueduct is 921 metres long.
blank

Feel like a giant at Miniaturk

This rather unique miniature park is home to small-scale recreations of structures found in Istanbul, Anatolia, and other Ottoman territories that today lie outside of Turkish borders.
blank

Have Sutlac for dessert

This is the Turkish version of rice pudding. It is said that the recipe made in Topkapi Palace contained rose water. You can also get this dish with chopped walnuts and raisins, which we think adds a nice flavour.
blank

Take a day trip to the Princes’ Islands

The Princes’ Islands is a cluster of 9 islands which lie off the Asian shores of Istanbul. The islands get this name because during the Byzantine and early Ottoman period, members of dynasties who fell out of favour were often sent to exile there. Today it is a popular place for families and couples to visit on the weekends, and the only form of transportation is horse and cart – very romantic.
blank

Visit the Blue Mosque

Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque’s two most striking features are its 6 minarets and blue domed exterior. You’ll want to dress modestly and if you’re a woman you’ll need to wear a scarf over your head as this is still a functioning mosque.
blank

Eat Lahmacun

Lahmacun is considered to be the Turkish equivalent of pizza. This thin dough is topped with minced meat, vegetables and herbs.
blank

Go to the Maiden’s Tower

Local tale says that the tower was built by a wealthy man who was trying to protect his daughter from a prophecy spoken by an oracle – a prophecy foretelling the death of the man’s daughter by a snake bite. To prevent these words from coming true, the father built a tower to keep his daughter safe in the water. Of course a snake would eventually find it’s way to the tower when the father came to visit with a basket full of fruit.
blank

Stroll along Emirgan Park

This is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul and it is located along the banks of the Bosphorus. Emirgan Park also plays host to the annual Tulip Festival, so you’ll want to check that out if you are in town in the spring.
blank

Visit the Asian Continent

Most visitors tend to stick to the European side, but if you venture over to the Asian side via ferry, you’ll find that the city has more of a local feel. The pace of life seems a bit slower and there are hardly any tourists around.
blank

Eat Turkish Ice Cream

Turkish ice cream is called dondurma which literally means freezing. What makes Turkish ice cream different from other types of ice cream is that it has a rather sticky texture and it is a bit more resistant to melting. Don’t believe us? Take a bite and try not to get the stringy ice cream all over your face.
blank

Ride the Funicular

If you need to give your legs a little rest, then riding the funicular is the easiest way to deal with Istanbul’s hills. The Tunel line is the oldest underground metro line in continental Europe, and the second oldest in the world after London.
blank

Drink pomegranate juice

Stop at one of the many street stands and order yourself a cup of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. It’s both tart and sweet, and the antioxidants offer great health benefits.
blank

Visit the Suleymaniye Mosque

The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia may be better known, but the Suleymaniye Mosque is the largest mosque in Istanbul. For that it is worth the visit.
blank

Race around the Hippodrome

Today a public square, the Hippodrome of Constantinople was a place for horse racing and chariot racing. During the Byzantine empire, this place would have been the beating heart of social activity.
blank

Go to the Ortakoy Mosque

This mosque stands along the waterfront of Ortakoy pier square. While it is much smaller than many of the mosques in the city, Ortakoy Mosque is unique in the sense that it is a perfect example of Baroque architecture.
blank

Get a taste of royal life at Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace is the largest royal residence in Istanbul and it served as the main residence to the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years. The grounds are massive, but perhaps the most impressive part of it all are the Harem Apartments – a place with more than 400 rooms for the Sultan’s many concubines, wives, children, and extended family members.
blank

Pretend you’re a sultan at Dolmabahce Palace

This palace was home to 6 different sultans towards the end of the Ottoman period. While in the past the Sultan and his family had lived in Topkapi Palace, times were changing and the Ottoman’s felt Topkapi was lacking the luxury and style of the new era. Naturally, a new palace had to be built.
blank

Walk along the Walls of Constantinople

When Constantinople became the new capital of the Roman Empire, defensive walls were erected to fortify the city. The 7 kilometre walk along the remaining portions of the wall offers a window into the past.
blank

Get lost and see what surprises the city throws your way

Istanbul is a great city to get lost in. So if you’re feeling rather adventurous just head out on foot to see what you can discover for yourself.
blank

Enjoy the exquisite maritime cuisine

What is a better place to eat fish than a city located very close to the Aegean Sea, Black Sea and is right next to the Bosphorus? Nowhere! You should definitely enjoy foodgasm while you are in Istanbul, and fish must be the main course. You can find terrific fish restaurants located both on the European and Asian Side of Istanbul, especially in the districts Beylerbeyi, Anadolu Kavagi, Uskudar, Tarabya, Sariyer and Kurucesme.
Don`t copy text!
blank