14 Things to do in Istanbul

This list consists of my absolute favorite things to do in Istanbul! It was my first time in Istanbul and I greatly enjoyed my stay in Turkey’s capital. I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait to be back – it’s a truly magical place. There is so much to explore, see and so much food to be tasted!

Things to do in Istanbul

1. Cross Galata bridge

Take a stroll across the Galata bridge for great views of Istanbul. The Galata Bridge spans the Golden hour and is usually filled with fishermen, small vendors and people enjoying the scenery.

Galata bridge Things to do in Istanbul

2. Smell all the spices at Spice Bazaar

The Spice Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the biggest Bazaars in Istanbul. It’s located in the Eminönü quarter of the Fatih district and the most famous bazaar right after the Grand Bazaar. The stalls at the Bazaar offer everything from spices, Turkish delight, nuts to local crafts.

Spice Bazaar Things to do in Istanbul

3. Wander around Gülhane Park

Gülhane Park (meaning “House of Roses Park” in Turkish) is one of the largest and Istanbul’s oldest park. The park was once a rosery shelter (a women’s shelter) and garden for the Ottoman Palace.

Gülhane Park Things to do in Istanbul

4. Sample your way through Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and biggest covered markets in the world. I absolutely love visiting markets and couldn’t wait to explore it. The Bazaar houses over 4,000 shops and offers everything you could possibly need: carpets, handbags, spices, soaps, sweets, teas – the list goes on and on.

Grand Bazaar Things to do in Istanbul

5. Take the ferry

This was one of my favorite things to do in Istanbul! The ferryboats take you across the Bosphorus and we took a ferry from Karaköy to Kadıköy (Asian side). The regular ferries you can take by simply using your Istanbul card, which I highly recommend getting if you are in the city for a couple of days. Most ferries depart on a regular basis and I had so much fun taking it!

ferry Things to do in Istanbul

6. Buy fresh produce at Tarlabaşi market

Tarlabaşi Sunday market at Sakiz Ağaci Sokak is only 15-20 minutes of walking from Taksim’s İstiklal Street. The Tarlabaşi Sunday food market is open every Sunday and buzzing with locals. Stall-holders are selling everything from fruit and vegetables to underwear. Tarlabaşi Sunday market is one of my favorite markets ever. There were so many fruits and vegetables! Pro tip: Come right before the market closes, at 6/7 PM for the best deals!

Tarlabasi market Things to do in Istanbul

7. Eat some really good vegan food

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I tremendously enjoy sharing my favorite places to grab vegan food. Although I’ve got this part covered in A guide to vegan food in Istanbul, Turkey I still wanted to give my favorite spots a shout in this post.

Vegan food at community kitchen Things to do in Istanbul

For insanely good Falafel hit up Rulo Lezzetler at

8. Stock up on Turkish delight

Turkish delight or lokum is a sweet made with cornstarch and sugar. While real lokum is completely vegan, there is a great variety of Turkish delight and I would definitely double check with the shopkeeper to make sure that what you are thinking is vegan, is indeed so.

vegan turkish delight Things to do in Istanbul

9. Drink Turkish tea

Served in a slim-waisted and curved glass, Turkish tea is usually being served after a meal and is amber-colored and bitter. Turkish tea can be found at literally any place and I highly recommend trying it while in Turkey.

turkish tea cafe zoo Things to do in Istanbul

10. Hang out at one of Istanbul’s cafes

There’s an abundance of cafes in Istanbul and while I am not huge on coffee, I always enjoy drinking tea, especially when it’s cold. We popped into quite a few cafes because my babe is really into coffee and Cafe Zoo has a very special place in my heart. It’s an adorable cafe with a subtle, yet really charming, jungle theme (not the kitschy kind!). The cafe spans several floors and has a very basic menu, which I love! We ended up ordered Turkish tea and coffee. I really loved the music and atmosphere. It’s a lovely place for a break and it’s located at Caferağa Mahallesi, Sarraf Ali Sk. No:3, 34710.

cafe zoo Things to do in Istanbul

11. Explore Istanbul’s Asian side

There is, of course, so much more to Istanbul than Taksim Square! Istanbul’s Asian side (Asya Yakası or Anadolu Yakası in Turkish i.e. “Anatolian Side”) is the eastern part of the city located east of the Bosphorus and geographically on the continent of Asia. The larger part of Istanbul’s population is living there and if you are in Istanbul and not staying on its Asian side, definitely make it a point o explore it.

Istanbul's Asian side Things to do in Istanbul

12. Visit Kadıköy market

Kadıköy Market is located on Istanbul’s Asian side and so worth exploring. The market is located right off Söğütlü Çeşme Caddesi, a rather busy road and has everything you could wish for. There is heaps of produce, spices, teas, household goods and so much more. If you are a lover of markets, make sure to check it out.

Kadıköy market Things to do in Istanbul

13. Marvel at the Blue Mosque

Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) is an incredible mosque in the old city center. The mosque continues to function as a mosque and is a popular site to visit among tourists. Visitors must use the south door and is closed for non-worshippers during the six daily prayer times. The Blue İznik tiles adorning the interior of the mosque have given it its name and while visiting the mosque was on my list, unfortunately, due to renovation works, the blue mosque was closed during our stay in Istanbul.

Things to do in Istanbul

14. Visit Kalamis Ataturk Park

Kalamis Ataturk Park is a small park on Istanbul’s Asian side. It’s located right by the sea and a really serene place. There are huge rocks at the water where cats are jumping around and I greatly enjoyed walking along the water and taking it all in. If you are on Istanbul’s Asian side, grab a bite and hang out at the park – it’s beautiful!

Ataturk Park Things to do in Istanbul

Have you been to Istanbul, Turkey? Share your favorite spots in the comments! 🙂

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