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Romantic Guide to Istanbul

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Follow these tips to enjoy the ultimate romantic weekend in evocative Istanbul.

Good for
  • Couples
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Foodie
  • Luxury Traveller
  • Like a Local

13 Places

4 City Tips

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Map

13 Places

Topkapi Palace

History Museums

Blue Mosque

Sacred & Religious Sites

Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)

Architectural Buildings, Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites, History Museums

Basilica Cistern

Ancient Ruins, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites

Cemberlitas Hamami

Hammams & Turkish Baths

Kapali Carsi

Flea & Street Markets

Spice Bazaar

Gift & Speciality Shops

Sehir Hatlari Cruise

Boat Tours

Maiden's Tower

Historic Sites, Observation Decks & Towers

Buyukada

Destinations

Beyoglu

Neighbourhoods

Istiklal Street

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Mikla Restaurant

Restaurants

Chris O's City Tips

  • Istanbul is huge, so it pays to familiarize yourself with the city's layout before your visit and when plotting out your route.
  • Dress modestly: Some of the city's most popular attractions, such as the Blue Mosque, are actually religious destinations as well - men would be wise not to wear shorts.
  • The city's public transportation is modern, clean and efficient.
  • Keep in mind that Istanbul is a very hilly city - wear comfortable shoes when hitting the streets.
  • Topkapi Palace
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The lavish seat of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, Topkapi Palace is a must-see for any first-time visitors to Istanbul, and its gardens are the perfect place to stroll hand in hand. Inside, get ready to be dazzled and amazed – not only by the array of jewels and artifacts from Topkapi's collection, but also by the panoramic views of the Bosphorus.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • If you plan to view the Sacred Relics (including Abraham’s Pot, Moses’s Staff, David’s Sword, and Muhammad’s footprints), dress very modestly - no shorts and cover shoulders.
    • Do not leave the palace without a visit to its harem!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 1,138 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great place to learn about ottoman empire 19/10/2018
    • Great way to spend a day 19/10/2018
    • Topkapi Palace
    Address:
    Cankurtaran Mahallesi, Topkapi Palace Museum, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
    Gulhane Park, near Sultanahmet Square
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 522 44 22
    Other:
  • Blue Mosque
    Sacred & Religious Sites
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Dating from the early 1600s, the historic Sultan Ahmed Mosque is more commonly known as the Blue Mosque for the many blue tiles adorning its walls, as well as its giant blue stained-glass windows and blue painted ceilings. You might want to do some neck-limbering exercises before entering because you'll be looking up in awe the whole time you're there!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Cover up - men: no shorts; women: carry along a head scarf to cover your hair when visiting.
    • Bring your own socks! You'll need to take your shoes off to enter the mosque.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 1,138 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Under construction 20/10/2018
    • Amazing 20/10/2018
    • Blue Mosque
    Address:
    Sultanahmet
    Sultanahmet Mah
    Istanbul 34122
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 518 13 19
    Other:
  • Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)
    Architectural Buildings, Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites, History Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Once a Greek Orthodox basilica, once an imperial mosque, this architectural marvel and cultural landmark is now a museum. When you go, keep an eye out for the “Viking graffiti” that was carved into the wooden rails of the top floor.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Lines for purchasing tickets here can be daunting - consider buying yours online in advance.
    • The museum is closed on Mondays and some religious holidays. Check the website before you visit.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 1,138 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Majestic although its shear simplicity 20/10/2018
    • Definitely worth a visit 20/10/2018
    • Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)
    Address:
    Ayasofya Square, Sultanahmet
    Istanbul 34122
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 522 1750
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 am - 4:00 pm
    Other:
  • Basilica Cistern
    Ancient Ruins, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The largest of the numerous ancient cisterns lying beneath the streets of modern Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern is one of the city's top historical attractions, and while it's just as amazing to visit as any of the others, this one is usually not nearly as crowded. That, plus its low lighting, makes the place feel like your own secret hideaway.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Brush up on your “night photography” skills or bring a small tripod for super cool pics.
    • Check to see if there are any upcoming concerts here - an amazing opportunity to enjoy its unique acoustics.
    • Take time to contemplate the two enigmatically arranged medusa head column bases near the back of this eerily serene underground wonder.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 1,138 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Only worth a quick visit 20/10/2018
    • Mystiс place 20/10/2018
    • Basilica Cistern
    Address:
    Alemdar Mahallesi, Yerebatan Caddesi, No:1/3
    Istanbul 34410
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 512 15 70
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 am - 5:30 pm
    Other:
  • Cemberlitas Hamami
    Hammams & Turkish Baths
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Affordable luxury is on offer at this historic hamam situated next to the Grand Bazaar. Dating back to 1584, it captures the true traditional Turkish Bath experience. Although the baths are divided by gender, the true relaxation you'll experience while separated will make your reunion at the end of the day that much sweeter.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Must See
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Luxury Traveller
    Tips
    • For the traditional experience, spring for the relaxing Sultan's Bath.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 230 Spas & Wellness in Istanbul
    • Open late, no reservations needed 18/10/2018
    • Touristy but best massage and every bit atmospheric 14/10/2018
    • Cemberlitas Hamami
    Address:
    Mollafenari Mahallesi, Vezirhan Cd. No:8
    Cemberlitas
    Istanbul 34440
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 522 79 74
    Other:
  • Kapali Carsi
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    With its dozens of covered streets, thousands of shops and hundreds of thousands of daily visitors, the Grand Bazaar can be a little overwhelming! Don't worry if you get a little lost while exploring though - every bit of this unparalleled shopping experience, brimming with vibrant culture and living history, is worth seeing.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Actually shopping and not just gawking in bewildered amazement? It would be rude not to haggle!
    • Be sure to keep an eye on your belongings, as pickpockets tend to take advantage of the crowds.
    • Pay attention to the signage pointing to the different exits.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #89 of 1,138 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Grand Bazaar 19/10/2018
    • Very nice 18/10/2018
    • Kapali Carsi
    Phone:
    +90 212 519 12 48
    Other:
  • Spice Bazaar
    Gift & Speciality Shops
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Istanbul's Spice Bazaar is a centuries-old foodie wonderland that's as exciting to visit as it is budget-friendly and delectable! Whether you're foraging your way through this aromatic labyrinth of yumminess, shopping for gifts, or just 'taking it all in,' it's without doubt a delight for the senses.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • In town for a romantic weekend? Look for teas and spice mixes which many hawkers claim to have a rousing effect on couples!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #20 of 575 Shopping in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Lots of product not sure I wanted to buy 17/10/2018
    • Colorfully, wonderfully... underwhelming. 16/10/2018
    • Spice Bazaar
    Address:
    Rustem Pasa Mahallesi 34116 Istanbul, Turkey
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 537 646 63 31
    Other:
  • Sehir Hatlari Cruise
    Boat Tours
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    A cruise on the Bosphorus is the height of romance, and Sehir Hatlari's cruises are an especially picturesque and affordable way to get a sense of just how gorgeous (and expansive) this age old city is. The “Full Bosphorus Cruise” from Eminonu to Anadolu Kavagi is ideal for seeing a good stretch of Istanbul, as well as much of the Bosphorus. It includes time to explore the 15th-century Yoros Castle (an uphill but easy hike) where you can admire the views of the Black Sea, as well as time for a seafood lunch near the base of the castle or on the waterfront.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • This may “just” be the public ferry, but there's an informative headphone guide available, and the photos you'll take and memories you'll keep will be splendid.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #15 of 97 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • delightful trip all along the Bosporus 11/10/2018
    • Great cruise! Great value 08/10/2018
    • Sehir Hatlari Cruise
    Address:
    Evliya Celebi Cad. No:1 - 4
    Kasımpaşa , Beyoğlu
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 313 80 00
    Other:
  • Maiden's Tower
    Historic Sites, Observation Decks & Towers
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Once upon a time (as the story goes), a princess was locked away in this small tower on a tiny islet - where the Marmara Sea meets the Bosphorus - in an attempt to thwart a prophecy suggesting she would one day be bitten by a venomous snake. These days, private boats take visitors to the islet, and the tower is home to a romantic restaurant and cafe offering an evocative atmosphere and stunning views.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • Couples should be okay making impromptu visits to the island during the day, but if planning on a romantic dinner, it would be wise to book ahead.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #48 of 1,138 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Nice couple of hours in Bosporus 14/10/2018
    • Lovely view of Istanbul 02/10/2018
    • Maiden's Tower
    Address:
    Uskudar
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 216 342 47 47
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    9:15 am - 6:45 pm
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 am - 6:45 pm
    8:15 pm - 12:30 am
    Other:
  • Buyukada
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The largest of the Princes' Islands, Buyukada is just a short ferry ride from Istanbul, lying about 12 miles or so away in the Sea of Marmara. As with all nine of the islands, quaint and historic Buyukada is vehicle free, making it a great place for a romantic stroll.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • From the European side of Istanbul, ferry's leave from Kabatas. The ride takes about 90 minutes.
    • Weekends can be especially busy here, so it's best to visit on a weekday.
    • For an especially romantic and leisurely way to see the island, consider a ride in a horse drawn carriage.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    • Buyukada
  • Beyoglu
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Take the Beyoğlu Tünel funicular and spare your legs from the steep climb to Beyoğlu Square, then take time to explore this beautiful neighborhood renowned for its many restaurants and buzzing nightlife.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Be sure to check out some of the shops selling traditional musical instruments near the Tünel's top terminus - how many different types of cymbals can you spot?!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #64 of 1,138 things to do in Istanbul
    • The heart of Istanbul 28/08/2018
    • Walk all day 09/07/2018
    • Beyoglu
    Phone:
    +90 212 255 23 94
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    8:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Sat
    8:00 am - 3:00 pm
    Other:
  • Istiklal Street
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    There's no better place to get a sense of this massive city's diverse and cosmopolitan make-up than this short cobblestoned and pedestrianized street - it's not a bad option for a quick bite, a spot of shopping and top quality people watching (by the throngs) as well.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • As in any crowded urban space, keep track of your belongings here - petty crimes and pickpocketing are unlikely but possible.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #76 of 1,138 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Ok place 20/10/2018
    • Nice place and crowded 19/10/2018
    • Istiklal Street
    Address:
    istiklal street Taksim
    Beyoglu
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 532 421 61 64
    Other:
  • Mikla Restaurant
    Restaurants (Turkish, Contemporary)
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Located on the roof of the Marmara Pera Hotel, Mikla Restaurant offers upscale and stylish dining with a menu of contemporary dishes based on traditional Turkish cuisine. Mikla is home to an excellent al fresco bar where, come evening, guests get to enjoy one the most spectacular shows in town: sunset over the Golden Horn.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • If you're planning to dine here, a reservation is highly recommended.
    • You might want to tidy up first if coming from a day of sightseeing.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #174 of 8,305 restaurants in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Underwhelming and bad service 20/10/2018
    • Beyond our expectations 15/10/2018
    • Mikla Restaurant
    Address:
    The Marmara Pera Hotel, Mesrutiyet No 15
    Beyoglu
    Istanbul 34430
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 293 56 56
    Price range:
    USD 51 - USD 102
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    6:00 pm - 2:00 am
    Other:
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