A. Strengths and Weaknesses of Istanbul
Istanbul is wonderfully located on both sides of Bosphorus, the narrow strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea.
It is Turkey's most populated city, and it bridges Asia and Europe both geographically and culturally.
Stroll through the delightful Sultanahmet quarter, visit the magnificent blue mosque, see the Grand Bazaar and then shop in huge shopping malls like the Cevahir or the Istinye Park on the European side of the city.
Its historic sites with numerous impressive mosques and palaces, its fantastic shopping opportunities coupled with affordable prices make Istanbul one of the top cities in our list.
Recurring terror attacks and attempts during 2015, 2016 and a similar trend in 2017 have distinctly reduced safety.
Going further, observation and keeping up to date are necessary.
9/10 [14 Mio.]
B. Best Things to Do in Istanbul (Detailed List with Photos and Information)
These sights and attractions contribute to a sights score of 7.30/10.
AYASOFYA BASILICA (HAGIA SOPHIA) 8
Designed in the 6th century on an unprecedented scale with a 56m high grandiose cupola and displaying 30 million gold tiles in its interior, the Hagia Sophia is by general consensus one of the world’s greatest architectural achievements of all time.
The exceptional building was inaugurated in 537 as a church by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and remained for almost a thousand years the world's largest and most important religious monument. In the 15th century it was converted into a mosque before being finally declared a museum (as it is today) by Atatürk in 1935.
Museum and former mosque (World Heritage Site since 1985)
TOPKAPI PALACE 7
Situated attractively above the confluence of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn the immense Topkapi Palace was the Imperial residence of Ottoman sultans from 1478 to 1856.
Highlights include the Imperial Hall with the throne of the sultan, the Chambers of the Crown Prince, the harem, where the sultan’s wives and children lived, and the panoramic view of the Marmara Sea from the gardens.
Former Palace (World Heritage Site since 1985)
GRAND BAZAAR 7
Dating back to the 15th century, the chaotic but wonderful Grand Bazaar is basically one of the world's oldest shopping mall.
Enter by one of the 11 gates into this gigantic (50 acres [0.2 km2]) colourful labyrinth of 65 covered streets, packed with more than 4,000 tiny shops offering mainly carpets, gold, leatherware, cloth and spices. Thankfully the vendors are generally friendly and far from pushy
Market (World Heritage Site since 1985)
Dolmabahçe Palace 7
Sitting along the coastline of the Bosphorus strait the monumental (285 rooms and 46 halls) Dolmabahçe Palace, which was completed in 1856, with its extravagant over-the-top interior is a unique mix of of Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical style and Orientalism.
During its construction in the 19th century fourteen tonnes of gold were used to gild the ceilings.
by Mircea Ostoia / CC BY-SA 2.0
C. Other Notable Sights and Attractions in Istanbul
-Istanbul Archaeology Museum (Museum of Antiquities) 5
-Istanbul Sapphire Tower (total height 261 m, observation deck 236 m, opened 2011) 5
-Kariye Museum (The Chora Church) 5
-Istanbul Sea Life Aquarium (former Turkuazoo Istanbul Aquarium) (Aquarium, 5 million liter tank, 80 m tunnel) 5
-Rüstem Pasa Mosque 5