Istanbul is a city that boasts a rich history and a vibrant culture. While many tourists flock to the city’s famous landmarks and attractions, there’s so much more to discover beyond the beaten path. In this guide, we’ll show you the coolest things to do in Istanbul, from exploring hidden neighborhoods to discovering ancient artifacts.

Go to Look at Vlora Hanı and Other Famous Places in Eminonu

Eminönü is a neighborhood that’s steeped in history and culture. Take a stroll through the area’s winding streets to discover hidden gems like Vlora Hanı, a restored Ottoman-era caravanserai that now houses boutique shops and restaurants. Other must-see spots include the Spice Bazaar, the New Mosque, and the bustling fish market.

Climb a Steep Hill in 90 Seconds on the Second-Oldest Urban Subway in the World

Take a ride on the Funicular, a historic subway line that connects the neighborhoods of Karaköy and Beyoğlu. The line dates back to 1875 and is the second-oldest urban subway in the world. Enjoy the ride as you ascend a steep hill in just 90 seconds, and take in stunning views of the Bosphorus and the city skyline. Read more…

Go to See Prinkipo Orphanage

One of the coolest things near Isttanbul is located on Büyükada, the largest of the Princes’ Islands, Prinkipo Orphanage is a hauntingly beautiful building that’s been abandoned for decades. Once a home for orphans and Greek Orthodox children, the building now stands as a reminder of Istanbul’s complex history. Take a ferry to Büyükada and explore the island’s lush greenery and quaint streets before venturing to the orphanage for a glimpse into the past.

More about Princes’ Islands >>

Take a Photo of Tombili, a Statue of Street Cat

Isn’t the cats of Istanbul the coolest thing ever? One of Istanbul’s most famous feline residents, Tombili, earned worldwide recognition for his laid-back attitude and meme-worthy pose. You can find his likeness in a bronze statue in the Ziverbey neighborhood. Snap a photo and pay homage to one of Istanbul’s most beloved pets.

If you’re a cat lover, you won’t want to miss out on the furry residents of Istanbul! Check out this article on The Cats of Istanbul to learn about the city’s strays and how they’ve become an integral part of Istanbul’s culture.

Learn New Things in the Museum of Energy

Ever wonder how Turkey generates its electricity? Visit the Museum of Energy, located in the Kandilli neighborhood, to learn about the country’s energy history and production. Exhibits showcase Turkey’s coal, oil, and natural gas reserves, as well as its increasing reliance on renewable sources like solar and wind power.

Want to save money on museums in Istanbul? Don’t miss out on the Istanbul Museum Pass, which provides access to over 12 museums and cultural sites across the city. Check out this article on Istanbul Museum Pass (2023 March Price + Lifehacks) for more information and tips on how to make the most of your pass.

Ride Haliç Metro Bridge

If you’re looking for a unique way to take in Istanbul’s cityscape, hop on the Haliç Metro Bridge. The bridge spans the Golden Horn and offers panoramic views of the Bosphorus and the city’s skyline. Take a ride at sunset for a truly breathtaking experience.

Read more about scenic routes of Istanbul transport >>

Look at Quite Possibly the Oldest Love Poem

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts is home to a tiny clay tablet with a big romantic impact. The tablet bears what could be the world’s oldest known love poem, dating back to the 8th century BCE. Take a moment to appreciate the enduring power of love and language as you marvel at this ancient artifact. Read more…

Free Ticket + Guided Tour with Istanbul E-Pass

Uncover Istanbul’s historical treasures and rich cultural heritage with the E-Pass, granting you access to 50+ attractions and services across the city. Included with the pass is free entry to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, where you can explore stunning collections of artifacts and masterpieces that provide a glimpse into Turkey’s artistic past.

Visit Yeralti Camii (Underground Mosque)

Few visitors to Istanbul know about the Yeralti Camii, a hidden gem located beneath the streets of Eminönü. Originally built as a cistern in the 6th century, the space was later converted into a mosque. Marvel at the underground dome and intricate tilework, and take a moment to appreciate the spiritual history of this unique site.

Get a Ferry to Princes’ Islands

For a taste of island life, head to the Princes’ Islands, a chain of four islands just off the coast of Istanbul. These islands have been a popular getaway for locals since the Byzantine era, and for good reason. Here, you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and soak up the laid-back vibe of the island life.

One of the most popular islands to visit is Büyükada, which translates to “Big Island”. Here, you can take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the island, stroll along the waterfront, and soak up the sun on the beaches. The island is also known for its seafood restaurants, which serve up fresh catches of the day.

But if you’re looking for a more secluded and peaceful island, head to Heybeliada or Burgazada. These islands are quieter than Büyükada and offer a more serene atmosphere. Take a leisurely stroll through the pine forests, rent a bike, or enjoy a picnic with a view.

No matter which island you choose to visit, be sure to take the ferry from Kabataş or Üsküdar for a scenic ride across the Sea of Marmara. And don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning views of Istanbul’s skyline from the water.

Read More in a Travel Guide to the Princes Islands near Istanbul

Have a Fun Day at Istanbul Theme Park

Last but not least, for a fun-filled day with family or friends, head to Istanbul’s theme park Vialand. This is one of the coolest things to do in Istanbul, especially for thrill-seekers.

The park is home to a variety of rides and attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, and even a 4D cinema. In addition, there are plenty of food and beverage options available. Furthermore, there are souvenir shops where you can pick up a memento of your day.

More theme parks in Istanbul >>

For families traveling with kids, check out Fun Things to Do in Istanbul: Best Places to See with Kids for recommendations on kid-friendly activities and attractions in the city.

More Places Your Kids Will Love in Istanbul

Conclusion: Don’t Miss Unique Places in Istanbul

In conclusion, Istanbul offers a wealth of exciting and unique experiences that are not to be missed. Whether you’re looking for the coolest things to do in Istanbul, the best things to do in Turkey Istanbul or the must-do things in Istanbul, this city has something for everyone. From exploring the famous landmarks and architecture that Istanbul is renowned for, to experiencing its vibrant culture and cuisine, there is no shortage of activities to keep you entertained.

Make sure to check out some of the cool things to do in Istanbul Turkey and the unique things to do in Istanbul that will leave you with unforgettable memories. So don’t wait any longer, start planning your Istanbul adventure today and discover why this city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

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