Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)
The “Eighth Wonder of the World,” Hagia Sophia, or “Holy Wisdom,” is one of the most magnificent ancient buildings still standing. Originally built as a church in 537 AD by order of the Emperor Justinian, it was later used as a mosque and is now a museum. Hagia Sophia contains 104 columns, and its glorious dome soars to 55 meters, while a beautiful light glows through its many windows, illuminating the stone, and the golden portrait of Christ and other pictorial mosaics lining the walls.
Website: www.hagiasophia.com Distance from Hotel: 2-5 minutes by walking Open in between: April 15th - November 1st 09:00 to 18:00 every day except Mondays November 1st - April 15th 09:00 to 16:00 every day except Mondays Entrance Fee: 30 TL
Topkapi Sarayi (Palace)
Home to the unbroken dynasty of Ottoman sultans for more than 700 years and now a museum, this palace complex is a must-see in Istanbul. The Harem section formerly housed the family of the Sultan in room after room of tiled and marble splendor. Former public and administrative rooms now exhibit the treasures of the sultans’ reigns, including gifts to the Sultan from afar, and objects made in the kingdom for his delight, including bejeweled furniture and weaponry, household items made of precious stone and ceramics, carpets and silk caftans, all set in a luxurious garden compound overlooking the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.
Website: www.topkapisarayi.gov.tr Distance from Hotel: 3-6 minutes by walking Open in between: April 15th - November 1st 09:00 to 18:00 every day except Tuesdays November 1st - April 15th 09:00 to 16:00 every day except Tuesdays Entrance Fee: 30 TL (Harem section extra 15 TL)
The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque)
Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, has anchored the heart of Sultanahmen for more than 400 years, across from Aya Sofia. It is distinguished by its six minarets, the only such mosque in Turkey. Its beauty comes from more than 200 spectacular stained glass windows, and 20,000 handmade İznik-style ceramic tiles, from which it gets its colorful "blue" name, line its 44 meter high walls and domes, supported by four huge columns. Prayer services are still held daily in the mosque.
Distance from Hotel: 5-10 minutes by walking Open in between: Open everyday Entrance Fee: No Entrance Fee
Istanbul Archaeological Museum
Turkey has been the origin and territory of many archaic and classical civilizations for thousands of years. This largest archaeological collection in the country on the grounds of the Topkapi Palace houses huge collections of exciting finds and artifacts, from pre-history through the Lycean, Greek and Roman, and many other periods and civilizations, displayed in historical sections throughout the enormous building.
Website: www.istanbularkeoloji.gov.tr Distance from Hotel: 5-10 minutes by walking Open in between: 09:00 to 18:00 every day except Mondays Entrance Fee: 15 TL
The Süleymaniye Mosque
The Süleymaniye Mosque, which has recently been renovated and restored to its original mid-16th century splendor, is the largest mosque in Istanbul. It was endowed by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and designed by his famous architect, Mimar Sinan, who is buried on its grounds. Situated on the Third Hill of Istanbul, overlooking the entire city, it was the center of an extensive complex of Ottoman buildings, many of which are still in existence today, including a cemetery with beautiful headstones and turbeler (mausoleums.)
Distance from Hotel: 30 minutes by walking Open in between: 09.00 – 18.00 everyday ( except pray times ) Entrance Fee: No Entrance Fee
Chora (Kariye) Church
Chora (Kariye) Church or the Church of the Holy Savior, is a triumph of mosaic art. Built by the Byzantines in the 11th century, it later became a mosque, and is currently a museum. Its interior, including chapel and corridor walls and domes, is lined with magnificent original mosaics and frescos depicting the life of Christ, and other classic characters and stories from the Bible.
Website: www.choramuseum.com Distance from Hotel: 6.7 km Open in between: 9.00-17.00 every day except Wednesdays Entrance Fee: 15 TL
Dolmabahçe Palace, located on the Bosphorus in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, was the “new” palace and residence of the sultans, built in the 19th century by the 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid I. Used as the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856, in the 20th c. this largest palace in Turkey became the home of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who spent the last days of his life in the palace. Featuring design elements from Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles, blended with traditional Ottoman architecture, it’s architecture and decor were a reflection of the increasingly European influence on Ottoman culture of the time.
Distance from Hotel:7.3 km Open in between: 9.00-15.00 every day except Mondays and Thursdays Entrance Fee: Selamlik (Official part) 30 TL - Harem (Privy Chambers) 20 TL - Common Ticket for both 40 TL
The Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern is like an underground temple, with vaulted ceilings and 336 marble and granite columns set in 9800 square meters of water. Created on the former site of a Byzantine church, it was originally constructed in the sixth century, holding 100,000 cubic meters of water for the city, and is one of hundreds of underground water storage cisterns in Istanbul.
Website: www.yerebatan.com Distance from Hotel: 10 minutes by walking Open in between: 09:00 to 19:00 every day except Mondays Entrance Fee: 20 TL
The Galata Tower
The Galata Tower, on Istanbul’s European side, is a 9-story medieval tower that is a well-known landmark on the Golden Horn skyline. Built in 1348 during an expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople, the old name for Istanbul, the Ottomans began to use the tower for spotting fires in the city. It now has 2 elevators and several restaurants, and the top level has a panoramic view of the Bosphorus and the Old City, especially dramatic at sunset.
Website: Galata Tower Tripadvisor
Distance from Hotel:6 km Open daily from 09:00 to 17:00 Restaurant & Turkish Show from 20:00 to 00:30
The Maiden’s Tower
The Maiden’s Tower, also known as Leander's Tower, lies on a small islet located at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus strait, close to the Asian side of Istanbul. During the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, the tower held a Byzantine garrison, and later became a watchtower and a lighthouse. Restored multiple times during the centuries, it now contains a café.
Website: www.kizkulesi.com.tr/ Distance from Hotel: 23 km and 5 min. by boat Open in between: 9.00-00.30 every day
Çeberlitaş Hamamı (Turkish Bath)
Çeberlitaş Hamamı (Turkish Bath) is a historic and traditional Turkish bath located on Divanyolu Street in the Çemberlitaş neighborhood of Istanbul, near the Grand Bazaar. It was constructed by the famous mosque architect Mimar Sinan in 1584, and continues to offer an authentic experience as a daily traditional bathhouse, with separate men’s and women’s sections.
Distance from Hotel:22 minutes by walking Open daily from 06:00 to 24:00
Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı (Tuskih Bath)
Re-opened in 2011 after a meticulous restoration, this twin hamam offers the most luxurious traditional bath experience in the Old City. Designed by Sinan between 1556 and 1557, it was built just across the square from Aya Sofya by order of Süleyman the Magnificent and named in honor of his wife, Hürrem Sultan, commonly known as Roxelana. Though relatively expensive, treatments are expert and the surroundings are exceptionally clean.
Website: www.ayasofyahamami.com/ Distance from Hotel: 5-10 minutes by walking Open in between: 08.00-22.00 except sundays
Istanbul Modern Museum Of Modern Art, Turkey’s first private museum to organize modern and contemporary art exhibitions, occupies an 8,000 square meter site on the shores of the Bosphorus. It shares Turkey’s artistic creativity with wide audiences and promotes its cultural identity in the international art world. Istanbul Modern hosts a broad array of interdisciplinary activities, including painting, graphics, photography and video. Its features include temporary exhibition galleries, a photography gallery, and spaces for educational and social programs, as well as a cinema, restaurant, design store and an extensive library.
Distance from Hotel:5.5 km Open in between: Tuesday – Sunday: 10.00 am - 6.00 pm Thursday: 10.00 am - 8.00 pm - Monday: Closed
Princes’ Islands is a group of four main islands and five small ones in the Sea of Marmara, just off the coast of Istanbul. They began as a place of exile for Byzantine and Ottoman royalty, but became a summer holiday spot for Istanbul residents and notable foreigners for hundreds of years, just a few hours ferryboat ride away from the city center. The lack of motorized vehicles puts you back to earlier centuries, and you can explore the islands by foot, on bicycle, or in charming phaeton horse-drawn carriages, enjoying the neighborhoods of beautiful summer houses.