What to see in Istanbul, Turkey?

3:17:00 PM

Istanbul, is a city in Turkey that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. The Old City reflects cultural influences of the many empires that once ruled here. Even though myself living in a country with the major religion of Muslim, Turkey is out of my expectation, and it totally changed my view upon religion Muslim. The way they carry themselves as a Muslim, are in a modern and open-minded thinking, nevertheless, with respectful. 

Here in my opinion, are the TOP 7 places to see in Istanbul :

If you're looking for something in Blue, sorry you might have a little disappointing. Blue Mosque is a must visit in Istanbul, its one of a fine example of Istanbul's Imperial Ottoman Mosques. Entrance is free, but ladies, be prepared and dress up ethically. Upon entering, ladies will be given a scarf to cover over the hair.


In opposite of the Blue Mosque, here stands a Hagia Sophia, the name in Greek, known as Sancta Sophia in Latin and Ayasofya in Turkish. Ayasofya was the greatest church in Christendom, and was meant to be. Well I didn't enter to this building as there was a long queue, and there's an entrance fee of TL 40.

Operation time : 
Summer 15 April - 25 October, from 0900 - 1900. Ticket sales until 1800.

Winter 25 October - 15 April, from 0900 - 1700. Ticket sales until 1600.


Beneath of Istanbul, lie a hundreds of gloomy Byzantine Cistern. The Basilica Cistern, is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns. 

Underground waterway was once used as a reservoir for water storage for the Great Palace and other buildings, there are 336 columns in the cistern and most of the column capitals are either in Corinthian or Doric Style.

Towards the back of the Cistern, you will find one upside down Medusa head supporting one of the columns. It has been a great questions of why it is upside down, but the best guess is that the people who placed the stone believed that if the head was upside down, it would ward off evil spirits.

How to go : located at the Sultanahmet square, when you are about to reach the Sultanahmet Square on the right bank, you will see the basilica cistern. There is a small building next to the tram line, there leads the stairs down to the Basilica cistern.

Operation : Daily from 0900 - 1830

Entrance fee : TL 10


It is Turkey's largest covered market offering excellent shopping, such as beautiful Turkish carpets, glazed tiles and pottery, copper and brassware, apparel made of leather, cotton and wool, meerschaum pipes, alabaster bookends and ashtrays, and all sorts of other things.

The bazaar itself is huge, however most of the stores are selling almost same thing. I did not enjoy much in this market, since I am not so into those carpets all kind of things, but its great to see the local culture :)

How to go : Take the tram and get off at Beyazit Square Stop. / Walk along Sultanahment, upwards from Blue Mosque for about 15 minutes.


Situated in the European part of Istanbul, Turkey, is a major tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops, and hotels. It is considered the heart of modern Istanbul, with the central station of the Istanbul Metro network. Taksim Square is also the location of the Monument of the Republic (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Anıtı) which was crafted by Pietro Canonica and inaugurated in 1928. The monument commemorates the 5th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, following the Turkish War of Independence.

How to go from Sultanahmet : Take the tram to the end of the station at Eminonu, and then walk underground to the funicular railway that goes up the hill to Taksim. For the funicular railway, you need to buy another ticket at TL 1.75 each.

It is suggested that every visitor should take a Bosphorus cruise on the 32 km (20-mile) - long strait which joins the Sea of Marmara to the south with the Black Sea to the north of Istanbul. Your cruise can take as little as 25 minutes, or a full day; it may just be transport across the water, or may include sightseeing and lunch.

There are several companies operate short Bosphorus cruises that take you part way up the Bosphorus and back down. They run frequently in warm weather, so it should be easy to find a date and time that suits your plans.

During our trip, we have got an extra sight from our guide, and this place is known as the most expensive land in Istanbul! It's indeed, a very beautiful hillside with spectacular view from above.

The Pierre Loti Café, named after the French novelist, naval officer and Turkophile, is famous for its spectacular views over the Golden Horn.

How to go :

Any taxi driver will be glad to drive you all the way to the Pierre Loti cafe, but there really is no need for that. On the contrary actually. Just ask the taxi driver to take you to the Eyüp mosque, or alternatively take bus 39, 55T or 99A and get off close to the mosque.

From there you have two options to make your way to the teahouse on the hilltop. You can either climb your way up through the picturesque cemetery or take the funicular which is signposted from the mosque. I suggest taking the last option to reach the Pierre Loti cafe, and afterwards descend by taking the path between the (mostly Ottoman) tombstones.


Staying in Sultanahmed has just make things easier as the first TOP 4 to see places are just within walking distance in Sultanahmed. However, traveling around Istanbul isn't hard, especially with their metro system. I have enjoyed much travel with the metro :)

Istanbul's Metro system of underground and surface rapid-transit trains, trams and funiculars is growing quickly, and will be useful to you during your visit.

Hours of Operation : 
The Istanbul Metro and tram system runs from about 06:00 (6 am) to a little past 24:00 (12 midnight) or 01:00 (1 am), depending on the line and the direction of travel

How to pay the fare: 
There are 2 ways to pay the fare, one is by Token and another is with IstanbulKart. 

The way you pay the fare affects the fare you pay. For example, if you travel between Atatürk Airport and Sultanahmet or Sirkeci by Metro and tram using tokens, your total fare will be TL8; using an Istanbulkart, TL3.95 (not counting the initial cost of the card.)

Where to get IstanbulKart :

Istanbulkarts are sold by Istanbulkart vending machines and supposedly by Biletmatik machines, but the latter sometimes will not sell you an Istanbulkart.

You put a TL10 note into the machine to buy the card, which costs TL6 and comes with TL4 in fare credit on it. If you want more fare credit, you can insert more bills to load more credit. I'd suggest TL10 in credit (about five fares) for a single traveler, or TL20 for a couple. Here are the fares.

You may also be able to buy an Istanbulkart at commercial kiosks (little stands that sell newspapers, snacks, cigarettes, chewing gum, etc.).

One fun fact of using IstanbulKart is that, even you're travel in more than 1 person, let say like us, we were 6, we can all use the same card! ONE CARD FOR ALL! Why? That is because the fare is flatrate/per trip/per entry, so you can recycle the card to the next passenger! That's so convenient.


Aladdin Hotel / Aldem Boutique Hotel

Aladdin Boutique Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the Sultanahmet, a few historic attractions are just within walking distance, even the tram station is just 3 mins walk from the hotel.

The hotel provide a very decent breakfast, or I should say, the best food I can have in town LOL. They served well presented English Breakfast!

You Might Also Like


  1. always wanted to go to Istanbul. especially after reading dan brown's inferno.

  2. Really look awesome to have Istanbul travel journey. Need to jot this down as your stories is full of details ^.^

  3. wow... I heard turkey is well known for their hot air balloon ride, but can cost up to 1k for a ride. Did you get a chance to try that out?

    1. Yup, it was in Cappadocia.. We paid EURO 130/person, when you're already there, you shouldn't miss out the hot air balloon ;)

  4. Would love to visit Blue Mosque. seems quite special. You look good in the blue scarf too!

  5. Wow, glad to see you have an awesome trip! Personally love Taksim Square and Pierre Loti Hill seems to be a nice spot for photography over stunning view!

  6. I never think of travel to Turkey before. But your post made me feel like wanna visit this beautiful city - Istanbul.