If you’re looking for beautiful places in Istanbul, then you are in the right place.
This amazing city is situated on two continents, Asia and Europe, and visitors will find both western and eastern beauty. From ancient mosques and palaces to bustling markets and trendy restaurants, there’s something for everyone in Istanbul.
Without further ado, here are some of the most stunning places in beautiful Istanbul!
What Are The Most Beautiful Places In Istanbul?
1. Hagia Sophia
When it comes to beautiful places, nothing can compare to the historic mosque of Hagia Sophia. This place has been around since the Byzantine era and was once a Christian cathedral. After the conquest of Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia became a mosque and the beating heart of all religious affairs.
When it comes to beauty, it isn’t the history that makes this Turkish landmark so irresistible. With its soaring ceilings, massive dome, intricate mosaics and Islamic calligraphy, the Hagia Sophia is one of the most beautiful places in Istanbul, if not the world.
Just stepping inside offers visitors an unworldly feeling, and its holiness only intensifies this feeling. Getting a photo in this place is difficult, as there is always someone going to be in your shot. But simply admiring this place is enough to understand its beauty and significance.
2. The Blue Mosque
Another beautiful mosque in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque. Measuring 73 meters in height and 63 meters wide, the size of this religious building just garners all attention. On the exterior, its most striking feature is the six minarets, which believes to be a mistake made during construction in the early 1600s.
On the exterior, the Blue Mosque is big, but not exactly beautiful. But once you enter this religious place, you’ll understand why it belongs on this list. The interior is adorned with 20,000 blue Iznik tiles, detailing flowers, trees and abstract patterns of Ottoman influences.
The mosque also has over 200 stained-glass windows that are not only intricately designed, but let in plenty of natural light to make the place feel heavenly. It is no surprise that the Blue Mosque is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul.
Balat is a hidden gem in Istanbul that not many tourists get to explore. Located on the European side of Istanbul, this neighborhood was once home to a large Jewish population.
Nowadays, it is a place where you can still see remnants of its past while also admiring the beauty of traditional Turkish architecture. The best way to explore Balat is by strolling through its narrow streets and alleyways. You’ll find beautiful and colorful houses, as well as interesting shops and cafes.
Make sure to stop by İncir Ağacı Kahvesi, a cafe that has decorative steps and a narrow alley with umbrellas hanging over! It is one of the most Instagram-famous places in Istanbul!
4. Spice Bazaar
There are many traditional markets and bazaars in Istanbul, but one really stood out in terms of beauty – the Spice Bazaar (sorry, not it’s not the Grand Bazaar).
The Spice Bazaar is a small L-shaped bazaar that features spices, herbs, and teas from all over the world. You’ll find everything from saffron to Turkish delight, and the colors and aromas are just intoxicating.
What makes this place so beautiful is not only the vast array of goods on offer, but also the architecture. The Spice Bazaar was built in the 1660s and its roof is supported by beautiful arches. The light that filters through the windows creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, making it the perfect place to buy some Turkish souvenirs!
The neighborhood of Moda on the Asian side of Istanbul is just lovely. This is a place where you can really see the contrast between the old and the new.
On one hand, you have traditional Turkish houses and cafes, and on the other hand, you have modern restaurants and boutiques. Strolling through Moda is like taking a step back in time, while also admiring the beauty of Istanbul’s present.
Make sure to stop by the Moda Pier to get a stunning view of the city skyline. And if you’re feeling hungry, head to one of the many seafood restaurants in the area – you won’t be disappointed!
6. Camlica Mosque
Though not one of the most historic mosques in Istanbul, Camlica Mosque certainly has a lot to offer in terms of beauty. This mosque on the Asian side of Istanbul is the biggest mosque in all of Turkey, and its expensive construction has created a grandiose landmark that turns heads.
The mosque also includes a museum, art gallery, library, and conference hall, plus an underground parking lot with the capacity to hold 3,500 vehicles. It is estimated that 63,000 people can be inside the mosque at the same time.
Visitors can see its magnificence and beauty in the Ottoman and Seljuk architectural styles, which include sharply angled vault, a series of small domes and a large central dome. Built in 2019, the mosque was a classic building built using modern techniques, and the result is something that just eludes elegance. Come explore the gorgeous decorated interior of the mosque, but don’t forget the courtyard where you can admire its minarets and perfect symmetry.
Camlica Mosque is situated on Camlica Hill, a lush park where you can relax on a nice day. It even has views of the Bosphorus bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world!
7. Dolmabahce Palace
If you are looking for a beautiful building in Istanbul that exudes nothing but opulence and elegance, then Dolmabahce Palace is perfect for you. This former residence of the Ottoman sultans is a true masterpiece, and it’s no wonder that it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul.
This beautiful Istanbul palace was built in the mid-19th century, and its architecture is a mix of Baroque Revival and Rococo Revival styles. It is the first European-style palace to be built in Turkey, and its huge, pretty and filled with gold and crystal. Situated in the imperial garden and adjacent to the Bosphorus Strait, its surrounding natural beauty is equally stunning,
The only way to explore the Dolmabahce Palace is with a guided tour. There are two tours offered at the moment, the Selamlık tour or the Harem tour.
If you get the chance to choose, opt for the Selamlık tour. The tours show you the living quarters exclusive for men, and it is much more opulent than the Harem tour!
8. Galata Tower
The Galata Tower is not only one of the most historical buildings in Istanbul, but it is also one of the most beautiful ones. It rises 63 meters above the neighborhood of Galata in the European side of Istanbul, and overwatches the modern city of Istanbul majestically.
The Galata Tower is an iconic symbol of Istanbul, and it has been standing strong since 1349. It was originally built as a stone tower to defend the city from invaders. Nowadays, it is one of the biggest attractions in the city.
The top of the Galata Tower features an observation deck with a 360-degree view of the city where visitors can see most of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks! If you don’t go up to the observation deck, you can get photos of this stone tower from one of the quaint cobblestone streets that surrounds it.
If you are looking for a beautiful place to visit in Istanbul for sunset, then there is no better neighborhood than Uskudar. This seaside area on the Asian side of Istanbul faces west and looks into the Bosphorus Strait, offering visitors sweeping views of the water and more.
Uskudar is one of the most pretty and peaceful areas of Istanbul. It’s a great place to take a walk, relax by the water, or enjoy some of the best seafood in Istanbul. You can also find lots of cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating where you can enjoy views of the water while you eat or drink.
Perhaps the most iconic building in Uskudar is the Maiden’s Tower, a small tower that sits on a tiny island in the middle of the Bosphorus Strait. You can take a boat to the tower and explore it, or just enjoy its beauty from afar.
10. Princes’ Islands
If you don’t mind taking a short day trip from Istanbul, then Princes’ Island might just be the most beautiful island near Istanbul. Also known as Adalar, the Princes’ Islands are a group of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara, and they are only a short ferry ride away from Istanbul.
These islands were once home to Byzantine princes and Ottoman sultans. They were exiled here because it was considered to be a place of punishment. However, nowadays it is seen as a paradise!
The biggest of the islands, Buyukada, is an island where fuel-driven vehicles are banned. Locals and visitors get around by walking, cycling, or using one of the electric vehicles. This means that not only is there no pollution from the cars, but the island is much quieter, especially when compared to the bustling city of Istanbul.
The island is full of historic mansions that just exude elegance. If you are looking for a peaceful getaway to one of the most beautiful places in Turkey, then make sure you check out Adalar!
11. Basilica Cistern
For those that find beauty in architecture and engineering, a trip to the Basilica Cistern is a must. During the Byzantine era, multiple underground cisterns were built as water storage units which supplied the city with fresh water.
The Basilica Cistern is the largest cistern in Istanbul. It measures 138 by 65 meters, and it can hold up to 80,000 cubic meters of water. The cistern is supported by 336 columns that are arranged in a grid pattern.
Many of the columns have been taken from historical buildings and temples that were no longer in use. You can even see two Medusa heads at the base of two columns! It is unsure where those columns were taken from.
12. Rooftop Restaurants
If you want to fully appreciate the beauty of Istanbul, then there is no better place to do so than at one of the many rooftop restaurants around the city.
Rooftop dining experiences are very popular in Istanbul, and visitors will find them in many neighborhoods around the city.
If you want a view of historical buildings, then check out the rooftop restaurants in Sultanahmet. If you want one of the Bosphorus Strait and Golden Horn, head to Taksim. And finally, if you want one of the Bosphorus Bridge and the Strait, then head to Beşiktaş!
Some of the most beautiful views of Istanbul are from rooftop restaurants! If you want to enjoy the nightlife in Istanbul, there are also rooftop bars and clubs where you can have a great view while you do so!
13. Chora Church (Kariye Camii)
Chora Church is one of the most beautiful churches in Istanbul. Built in the 4th century, the Chora Church was originally built as a monastery outside of the city walls of Constantinople.
After the Ottoman Empire took over Constantinople in the 15th century, most of the churches were converted to mosques, and Chora Church is no exception. In fact, many refer to Chora Church as Chora Mosque, and it was one from the 15th century to the 19th century, when it became a museum.
Though it architecturally resembles a mosque more, there are mosaics and frescoes inside the church are some of the most beautiful and well-preserved examples from the Byzantine era.
These depict scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, as well as stories from the Old Testament.
The frescoes are so cool they reminded us of some of the ones in Cappadocia!
Map Of The Most Beautiful Places In Istanbul
To help you plan your visit to some of the most beautiful places in Istanbul, we have created an interactive map to show you their location. Make sure you click the star next to the name of the map to save it onto your own device, so you can have it on your own Google Maps when you are in Istanbul.
With this map, hopefully you can plan your Istanbul itinerary to include as many of these attractions as you would like!
Beautiful Istanbul FAQs
What Is The Most Beautiful Part Of Istanbul?
The most beautiful part of Istanbul has to be the Sultanahmet neighborhood. This is where the historical landmarks of the city are located, including the Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque. For quaint charm, colorful buildings, and cobblestone streets, check out the Balat area!
What Are The Most Beautiful Palaces In Istanbul?
There are plenty of stunning palaces in Istanbul, but don’t miss out on the historical Topkapi Palace and the extravagant Dolmabahce Palace!
What Are The Best Places To Take Photos In Istanbul?
Istanbul is a city full of excellent photography spots. Without a doubt, don’t miss the historic center of Sultanahmet and the bustling modern center of Taksim Square and the surrounding areas. For more idyllic charm, Balat, Kadikoy, and Princes’ Islands are nice places in Istanbul to visit!
Istanbul is a city with beauty on every corner. Hopefully, our guide on the most beautiful places in Istanbul can help you uncover even more than what meets the eyes!
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