Istanbul, which is the capital city of Turkey and by far the most populous city in the country, is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Its unique and stunning architecture, its cultural heritage and its great food are all just part of what makes Istanbul such an amazing place to visit or even to live in for those who are able to settle here permanently. There are plenty of fun things to do in Istanbul as well and we have made a list of our favorite fun things to do in Istanbul along with some tips on how you can make the most out of your time here.
Walk along the Sea Walls
Take a leisurely stroll along one of Istanbul’s many sea walls for a stunning view of either the Bosphorus or Golden Horn. These walks offer an easy way to take in Istanbul’s natural beauty without getting too hot from walking! If you enjoy being active, you can even hike all around Istanbul as there are several places where trails meet each other. Be sure to bring water and sunblock with you! You’ll want to plan your trip to match up with low tide so that you can get a clear view down into their bustling harbors. There’s lots of fishy activity going on (see below) and I think it’s great to watch them up close.
Go to a Local Park
Public parks in Istanbul are a great place to meet new people. Many citizens congregate around popular cafes and restaurants, which surround many local parks, to socialize with friends. Simply walking through one is an awesome way to not only relax, but also get a look at beautiful Istanbul architecture.
Have Turkish Coffee
In Turkey, coffee is more than just a drink. It’s an experience. When making Turkish coffee, a small amount of grounds are placed in a tiny cup, water is boiled on an open flame, and sugar is added to taste. The mixture is poured back and forth between cups to stir it up before drinking.
Rent Bikes, Walk or Cruise Along the Bosporus
Before you go, rent a bike. It’s amazing riding along the Bosporus, just sitting at one of many beautiful seaside cafes with friends or family sipping Turkish coffee. You can also walk around or cruise along on a water taxi if you prefer. At night, people watch at Beyoglu or sit down at any of many restaurants offering delicious Turkish food while enjoying live traditional music in what seems like an evening straight out of Hollywood movie. Enjoy beautiful Istanbul! We want to help you do that. The first way we can help is by showing you how to learn more about Turkey from our information pages here at About Turkey Travel guide, as well as helping you book your vacation using our easy-to-use booking engine.
Visit Atatürk’s Mausoleum and Museum
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a visionary leader who established modern Turkey. He is regarded as one of the founding fathers of modern Turkey, he introduced many reforms such as suffrage, land reform, secularism to protect religious minorities and women’s rights. He also simplified Turkish orthography, which made education easier for everyone. You can visit his museum to learn more about his revolutionary life or you can visit his mausoleum to see where he rests in peace.
Take an Evening Stroll Through Taksim Square
If you’re feeling exhausted from all of your sightseeing and walking around, try relaxing with a friend on one of Taksim Square’s many benches. The middle fountain is lit up at night, creating a beautiful setting to have a conversation while being in awe of Turkey’s largest square. As an added bonus, some restaurants in Taksim Square stay open late into the evening. So if you’re hungry after your walk (or to fend off hunger before dinner), grab some dinner!
People Watch from Instanbul Modern Art Gallery (IMOGA), Beyoglu
This is a must-do activity for anyone interested in watching local people, seeing how they act with each other. After you get some Turkish coffee or tea (they’re both served with delicious baklava), try not to laugh when you watch locals talk to each other. They will always apologize when they bump into someone, even if it’s clearly not their fault. When two men pass each other on the street, they always hold out their hand to shake hands before walking past one another. It might look awkward at first because some people seem to be playing charades while trying to make eye contact so they can shake hands, but it really is a hilarious sight.
Eat Delicious Cuisine
Everyone knows about Turkish Delight (locals know it as Lokum), but did you know that there are many other traditional sweets? Try Töre, a hardened sweetmeat with nuts; or Gullac, which is crispy and also made with sesame. You can purchase these treats at any local bazaar in Istanbul. When it comes to food, one thing you should try while visiting Turkey is Turkish kebab. Turks eat lots of meat; they have meals centered around it. All over Istanbul, you’ll find kebab houses where people go to enjoy skewered lamb and chicken served on top of pita bread with a side of salad or French fries. It’s like fast food but so much better!
Enjoy the Nightlife
While there are many popular nightlife spots in Istanbul, it’s not all clubs and pubs. The best thing about Istanbul’s nightlife is that there are so many options to choose from. You can start your evening by going to one of the cozy Turkish tea houses where men traditionally smoke a hookah pipe while drinking coffee or tea. Then head over to a bar for some great drinks with friends or colleagues. Or, if you want to try something different, check out any number of nightclubs featuring live music or open mic nights. There are also plenty of other activities that you can do after hours—like exploring Byzantine ruins on a tour with your hostel group, or checking out one of Istanbul’s world-class museums before sunrise at Asia Museum.