Istanbul City Centre guide for lifestyle, entertainment and attractions

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Istanbul City Centre Main Attractions

Istanbul Archaeology Museums

While you're in the vicinity of Topkapi Palace, make sure you take a detour and visit this incredible complex. It's divided into three areas: the Archaeology Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Tiled Pavilion. The three museums are t ... read more

1 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Miniaturk

If you've ever wondered what Gulliver felt like when he got to Lilliput, here's your chance to find out. This unique attraction has small scale models of some of Turkey's most famous structures. The 105 models at Miniaturk have been built on a 56 ... read more

1 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Basilica Cistern

This amazing cistern is the biggest of hundreds of ancient cisterns that are hidden beneath the bustling Istanbul streets. This particular cistern was built in the sixth century. Ancient books show that the basilica, apparently built by 7000 slave ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Aynalikavak Palace

This picturesque building on the shore of the Golden Horn is a reminder that this now modern, urban area was for many centuries full of parks, gardens, meadows and streams, where Ottoman sultans and before them the Byzantines came for summer outings. ... read more

8 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Emirgan Park

Famous for its gardens of tulips, Emirgan Park is at its finest during the month of April, when these delicate flowers are in bloom. Tulips originally grew wild on the Asian steppes and were introduced to Turkey by Sultan Mehmet IV (1648-57). The rei ... read more

10 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

French Quarter: Fransiz Sokagi

Istanbul's French Quarter is concentrated on one street: Fransiz Sokagi. The cobbled street is packed with cafes, bars, art galleries and musicians. The street's authentic whiff of gay Paree belies the fact was completely renovated just a few sho ... read more

2 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Sultan's Boats

While Venice has gondolas, Istanbul has the Sultan's Boats. Dating back to the Ottoman period, these boats languished in museums for a number of years but now they're back on the water, where they belong. Each boat can carry up to twenty people, a ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Ali Pasha: Nargile experience

One of Istanbul's most well known and best loved Nargile houses is the Corlulu Ali Pasha Medresesi. Built in 1709, Ali Pasha is steeped in history and atmosphere. Great hanging rugs and a large glass wall displaying all manner of water pipes prov ... read more

3 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Istanbul by balloon

Now this is something you won't find in every city. Istanbul's balloon tours allow you to see the city from a height of two hundred metres. A relatively new attraction, the balloon is located at Kadikoy, on Istanbul's Asian side. The balloon can h ... read more

2 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Paradise Zoo

It's a bit of a trek from the city centre - in fact, it's thirty-five kilometres away - but visitors who make the journey never regret it. The zoo and adjoining botanic gardens originally started out as a private collection of exotic animals, boug ... read more

35 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Koc Museum

One of Istanbul's newest museums, the Koc Museum was built by one of Turkey's richest men, Ramie Koc. This is the first museum in Turkey to be dedicated to the history transport, industry and communication. It may not sound like everyone?s cup of tea ... read more

2 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Istanbul's wooden houses

Almost all Istanbul's Ottoman-era houses were made of wood, and even up to the twentieth century the city was still a sea of wooden construction. However, fire damage eventually wiped out many of the buildings, and today there are only a few areas of ... read more

1 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Istanbul Military Museum

Istanbul Military Museum is one of the finest museums of its kind in the world. It is dedicated to one thousand years of Turkish military history, from the Ottoman era to World War II. The museum's twenty-two rooms house a large and eclectic colle ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Sisli Science Museum

If you've ever wanted to put out a fire, experience a large earthquake, see a 20 million-year-old tree or find out your weight in space, you've found the right place. Children have the opportunity to get hands-on at this interactive museum. Clever ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Europe's largest aquarium

Ever wanted to know what it's like to walk along the bottom of the ocean? Well, now you can find out - without the need of wetsuits and diving equipment! Europe's largest aquarium is located at the giant Forum Istanbul, one of Europe's biggest sho ... read more

1 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Princes' Islands

The Princes' Islands are home to Istanbul's elite, who own summer houses and palaces there. The eight islands are set in the Marmara Sea off the Asian shore, and are one of the last remaining places to offer an insight into Istanbul's ethnic mix. Gre ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Whirling dervishes

Sufi music and its accompanying whirling dancers are one of Turkey's most famous cultural elements. Unfortunately the sect the famous Whirling Dervishes belong to is outlawed in Turkey, and it's hard to catch a performance of these remarkable dancers ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Istanbul's steamy hammams

After a hard day's sightseeing around this majestic city, what better way is there to wind down than having your flesh scraped, kneaded and thumped by a half-naked stranger? Hammams were originally intended to purify the body and soul in accordan ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Istanbul's hookah craze

Hookah, shisha, or hubbly-bubbly - Turks have been puffing on the narghile for the last four hundred years. While it was enjoyed mainly by the upper echelons of society in the 19th and early 20th centuries, narghile smoking became strictly a peasant' ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Istanbul's city walls

Built in the fifth century during the rule of Theodosius II, the city walls are the largest surviving Byzantine structure in Istanbul. The walls stretch out in a great arc, covering six-and-a-half kilometres from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Church of St Saviour

This 11th century church is in the district of Chora. Because it's a little off the beaten track, most visitors to Istanbul never even discover it. But if you're prepared to seek it out, this Byzantine church is second only to the Haghia Sophia in it ... read more

1 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Galata Bridge

It may sound like a strange place to spend time, but the underside of this bridge that connects the two sides of European Istanbul has a lower deck with restaurants, cafes and bars. Beer is cheap here and you can spend an afternoon or evening with a ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Bosphorus Ferry - by night and by day

The Bosphorus Strait is one of the world's busiest waterways, and it's fascinating to watch the many boats navigating their way through the waters. Take the half-hourly commuter ferry up the strait from Eminonu. The ferry stops at Besiktas, Ortakoy ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

A brief history of Istanbul

It's thought that people inhabited the area now known as Istanbul from 3000 BC, but the city's real history began in 658 BC, with the appearance of Byzas from Megara. The Greek King founded a great city, calling it Byzantion, meaning 'The City of Byz ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Galata Tower

The Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower in Istanbul's Galata suburb. It's one of the city's most recognisable and striking landmarks, with a conical cylinder that affords a panoramic view of Old Istanbul and out across the Bosphorus Strait. The ... read more

2 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Rumeli Hisari

The great fortress of Rumeli Hisari was built at the order of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th Century. It sits at the narrowest part of the Bosphorous Strait, and was originally intended to control shipping traffic in preparation for the sieg ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Istanbul Modern

This gigantic art gallery holds an impressive collection of contemporary art from Turkey and across the globe. Opened in 2004, the gallery works hard to promote home-grown talent, and the set up is modern, fresh and spacious, with exhibitions changin ... read more

1 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Nightlife in Istanbul

At night Istanbul turns into action central, with nightlife to rival the most stylish European centre. The ever-growing number of bars, clubs and restaurants mean standards are extremely high, and the discerning will find their tastes well catered fo ... read more

1 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Egyptian bazaar

This market was built in the seventeenth century as an extension to Yeni Camii (New Mosque). It was famed as a spice market and pharmacy, selling herbs and spices from the Orient and even further afield. Now, you can find all manner of goods, and at ... read more

1 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Kapali Carsisi - the Grand Bazaar

Prepare yourself for the most intense shopping experience of your life. This best-known of Istanbul's markets began after the 1493 conquest, contained the slave trade and was full of Silk Road traders. The vast, labyrinthine market is easy to get los ... read more

1 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Taksim Square and Istiklal Caddesi

When you wander this area in the evening, you'll get a feel for Istanbul's modern European side. The busy Isiklal Caddesi is a mile-long pedestrianised street lined with cinemas, shops, restaurants and markets, and a great place to spend an evening. ... read more

1 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Byzantine hippodrome

Istanbul's most incredible historical remains can be found in Sultanahmet Square, in the heart of Istanbul's Old Town. This was once Istanbul's hippodrome, built in 203 AD just after the Roman conquest of the city. It was completed a century late ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Istanbul Blue Mosque

Sultanahmet Camii, also known as the Blue Mosque, is located in the touristy Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. It's one of Istanbul's top tourist attractions, and after checking out the Haghia Sophia, it's worth a look at the Islamic equivalent. ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Topkapi Palace

This palace was originally a summer residence and the seat of government. At one time, it was home to harem, military personnel and state administration, holding around 3000 residents. You can catch a glimpse of its former glory by admiring the treas ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Haghia Sophia

Known as Aya Sofya and translated as 'Church of Divine Wisdom,' Haghia Sophia is famous throughout the world as the finest remaining example of Byzantine architecture. Its enormous dome rises to fifty six metres, and appears to hang in the heavens. W ... read more

0 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

Yildiz Park

If you want to escape the sheer madness of the city, this is the place to come. This park area has a wooded area and landscape gardens. Sultans have played and hunted here for four hundred years, but nowadays you're more likely to find picnickers rel ... read more

7 km to Istanbul city centre |
 

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