If you’re looking for things to do and feel the true essence of Istanbul, there’s no better place to start than Eminonu and Sirkeci. This historic district, situated on the European side of the city, is packed with an array of things to do and see in Eminonu, from historical landmarks to hidden gems and authentic culinary delights. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through Eminonu and Sirkeci, showcasing the best places to visit, stay and eat in this vibrant neighborhood.
What’s Special about Eminonu and Sirkeci?
Eminonu and Sirkeci is steeped in history and culture, with a rich legacy that dates back to the Ottoman era. The area has been an important trading hub for centuries, thanks to its location on the Golden Horn, a natural harbor that connects the Bosphorus Strait to the Sea of Marmara.
Today, Eminonu and Sirkeci is a bustling hub of activity, where old-world charm meets modern-day amenities. Here, you’ll find ancient mosques, sprawling markets, and a host of eateries serving up mouth-watering Turkish cuisine.
Where is the Eminonu and Sirkeci?
Eminonuand Sirkeci is located on the European side of Istanbul, just a stone’s throw away from the Old City, also known as Sultanahmet. The district is situated on the shores of the Golden Horn, and is easily accessible via public transportation, including trams, buses, and ferries. See the location >>
Best Things to Do and to See in Eminonu & Sirkeci in Istanbul
Visit Eminonu Square
At the heart of Eminonu lies Eminonu Square, a bustling plaza that serves as the gateway to many of the district’s top attractions. From here, you can explore the nearby markets, visit the famous New Mosque, or take a stroll along the waterfront.
Shop on Egyptian Spice Bazaar
No trip to Eminonu would be complete without a visit to the iconic Egyptian Spice Bazaar. This sprawling market, also known as the Spice Market, is a feast for the senses, with vendors selling a colorful array of spices, teas, and sweets. Whether you’re in the market for souvenirs or just want to soak up the atmosphere, a visit to the Spice Bazaar is a must. Read more…
Enjoy a Free Guided Tour of the Spice Bazaar with Istanbul E-Pass
The Istanbul E-Pass is a valuable option for travelers, as it offers free entry and guided tours to the Spice Bazaar, along with 50+ other attractions, providing a convenient and cost-effective way to explore the city.
Go to see Yeni (New) Mosque
Just a short walk from the Spice Bazaar lies the New Mosque, one of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks. This stunning structure boasts intricate architecture and ornate decorations, and is a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike.
Find Gems in Grand Bazaar
For a truly authentic Istanbul experience, head to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. Here, you’ll find over 4,000 shops selling everything from Turkish carpets and textiles to jewelry and ceramics. Read more…
Take your time to explore the maze-like corridors of the bazaar, and don’t be afraid to haggle with the vendors for the best prices.
Explore the City Markets and Taste Istanbul Cuisine
Walk in Gülhane Park
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take a stroll through the serene Gülhane Park. This lush green oasis is located just steps away from Topkapi Palace, and is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of sightseeing.
Gasp at Suleymaniye Mosque
Another must-see mosque in Eminonu is the magnificent Suleymaniye Mosque. Built in the 16th century, this grand mosque boasts stunning architecture and breathtaking views of the city.
Go to Sirkeci Station and Istanbul Railway Museum
Take a trip back in time at the Sirkeci Station and Istanbul Railway Museum. This historical railway station, which was once the final stop of the famed Orient Express, is now a museum that showcases the history of Turkish railways.
Explore the vintage locomotives, railcars, and other railway artifacts that take you on a journey through the fascinating railway history of Turkey.
Shop in Tahtakale District
Shopaholics, listen up! If you’re looking for some serious retail therapy, head to the Tahtakale district in Eminonu. This bustling area is a shopper’s paradise, with countless shops and street vendors selling everything from clothing and accessories to electronics and souvenirs. Bargaining is the norm here, so be sure to haggle for the best deals. Read more...
See the Sunset from Galata Bridge
For some of the best views of Istanbul’s skyline, head to the Galata Bridge in Eminonu at sunset. The bridge connects the old city to the modern Beyoglu district and is a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike. Take a leisurely stroll across the bridge and soak in the stunning views of the Bosphorus and the city as the sun sets over the horizon.
Learn Something New at the Museum of Islamic Science and History of Technology
If you’re interested in the history of Islamic science and technology, don’t miss the Museum of Islamic Science and History of Technology in Eminonu. This museum showcases the contributions of Islamic scholars to fields such as astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. The exhibits include historical instruments and models, as well as interactive displays that offer a glimpse into the achievements of Islamic scientists throughout history. Read more…
See HodjaPasha Whirling Dervish Show
Experience the spiritual tradition of Sufism with the HodjaPasha Whirling Dervish Show. This mesmerizing performance features the famous “whirling dervishes,” who spin in a trance-like state to achieve spiritual enlightenment. The show is held in the atmospheric HodjaPasha Cultural Center in Sirkeci, which was once a hammam (Turkish bath).
Or Spend a Fun Night out at the Rhythm of the Dance Show (Turkish Dance)
Looking for a lively night out? Head to the Rhythm of the Dance Show in Sirkeci. This energetic performance showcases the best of Turkish dance, from traditional folk dances to modern interpretations. The colorful costumes, music, and dance moves will have you tapping your feet and clapping your hands all night long.
Walk From Eminonu to Sultanahmet
Take a scenic walk from Eminonu to the historic Sultanahmet district, which is home to some of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks. Follow the shoreline of the Bosphorus and pass by the Yeni Mosque, the Spice Bazaar, and the Galata Bridge. Once you reach Sultanahmet, explore the stunning Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Topkapi Palace.
Best Restaurants in Eminonu & Sirkeci: Where to Eat
After a day of sightseeing, indulge in some delicious Turkish cuisine at one of the many restaurants in Eminonu. Try the fresh seafood at the popular Balik Ekmek stand near the Galata Bridge, or head to one of the traditional meyhane (taverns) in Sirkeci for some meze (small dishes) and raki (an anise-flavored alcohol drink). Don’t forget to try some of the famous Turkish coffee or tea while you’re here!
Take a Ferry from Eminonu
Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to take a ferry from Eminonu and explore the Bosphorus Strait. There are several ferry routes to choose from, ranging from short trips to nearby neighborhoods to longer journeys that take you all the way to the Black Sea. Relax on board and take in the stunning views of the city skyline and the historic waterfront mansions. The ferry ride is not only a fun and scenic way to travel, but it also offers a unique perspective on Istanbul’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.
Take a Bosphorus Cruise from Eminonu
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Bosphorus Strait is by taking a public ferry from Eminonu. You can enjoy a leisurely cruise along the waterway, taking in breathtaking views of the city skyline and historic waterfront mansions.
If you’re on a budget, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of budget-friendly Bosphorus tours available in Istanbul.
Where to Stay in Eminonu and Sirkeci: the Best Hotels in Istanbul
Eminonu and Sirkeci are home to some of the best hotels in Istanbul, ranging from budget-friendly options to luxurious five-star accommodations. Whether you’re looking for a cozy boutique hotel or a grand historic building, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs and budget.
Experience the rich Ottoman-style architecture at Sirkeci Mansion Hotel, located in the heart of the old town, Sultanahmet. Only a 10-minute walk from Topkapi Palace, the hotel offers an indoor pool and a wellness center with a Turkish bath and massages. Each room features elegant wood carvings and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Enjoy Turkish cuisine at Neyzade Restaurant, and participate in free Turkish cooking classes and city tours arranged by the hotel.
At Meg Hotel Istanbul, the boutique hotel experience goes beyond mere accommodation. The hotel is situated in a city that uniquely combines metropolitan modernity with historic roots, and the Meg Hotel team strives to create memorable experiences for all guests. Discover Istanbul’s magic while enjoying the comforts of home, with support from the friendly staff throughout your visit.
Immerse yourself in local and authentic experiences at Mercure Istanbul Sirkeci Hotel. Conveniently situated in Sirkeci, the hotel is just a 5-minute walk from Istanbul’s main tourist attractions and offers easy access to the European part of the city and business districts. The hotel features 59 rooms, a bar, a restaurant, and a fitness center, all designed to make you feel comfortable and at home during your stay.
How to Get to Eminonu from Popular Neighbourhoods?
Getting to Eminonu is easy, with several transportation options available. If you’re coming from other parts of Istanbul, you can take the metro or tram to Eminonu station, which is located at the heart of the neighborhood. From there, you can easily walk to most of the main attractions.
If you’re coming from the Istanbul airport, there are several shuttle buses and taxi services available that will take you directly to Eminonu. Private shuttles are also available for those who prefer a more personalized and convenient travel experience.
Read our guide to find more information about how to get to Eminonu from Istanbul Airport (IST) and How to Get from Sabiha Gokcen to Old City (Sultanahmet) and Back: Metro, Bus, Taxi and Transfer 2023
Experience the Best of Eminonu and Sirkeci in 2023
Eminonu and Sirkeci are two of the most vibrant and exciting neighborhoods in Istanbul, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, you will always find new and exciting things to do in Eminonu.
From ancient mosques and bustling markets to waterfront restaurants and scenic ferry rides, Eminonu and Sirkeci have it all. So why not pack your bags and experience the best of Istanbul in 2023? With so much to see and do, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time in this magical city.