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Istanbul City Guide: Our Top Tips

Thinking of paying a visit to stunning Istanbul? You can fly direct from Dublin on Turkish Airlines, the ideal airline for exploring Turkey. Turkish Airlines operates direct flights from Dublin twice daily.

This is one of the world’s most visited cities for good reason. Check out our top sights & tips right here.

Istanbul is that rarest of things – one of the few cities in the world that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia. Bisected by the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul’s rich history from the Greeks to the Ottomans to the present day as well as its unique geography makes it a real melting pot of people and cultures.

Explore Istanbul’s historic sights, stunning Mosques, thriving food culture, bustling markets and so much more.

Top Things to do in Istanbul

Interior of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul - Cassidy Travel Istanbul City Guide

Hagia Sophia

One of Istanbul’s most historic and important attractions, the Hagia Sophia (also known as the Aya Sofya) has a colourful past. This is one of the world’s oldest buildings; the Hagia Sophia is the 3rd building to be created on this site and has been standing for nearly 1500 years. Long a place of religious worship, the Hagia Sophia is now a popular museum housing precious artefacts from bygone eras.

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul - Cassidy Travel Istanbul City Guide

The Blue Mosque

Sultan Ahmed Mosque, popularly known as the Blue Mosque, occupies pride of place opposite the Hagia Sophia. A working place of worship where locals come to pray, the Blue Mosque has long been a key attraction thanks to its stunning, historic architecture and key role in the life of the city. It’s the only mosque in the city with 6 spectacular minarets.

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul - Cassidy Travel Istanbul City Guide

Topkapi Palace Museum

This storied palace is now a fascinating museum offering a glimpse into an opulent past of sultans, Harems and untold riches. Explore the Palace Grounds and its collections of artefacts and manuscripts.

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul - Cassidy Travel Istanbul City Guide

Basilica Cistern

Beneath the streets of Istanbul, discover the Basilica Cistern. This underground reservoir once housed the water supply for the Byzantine imperial powers, now it’s an awe-inspiring tourist attraction. Held aloft by 336 spectacular columns, the Cistern is full of intricate decoration and carvings – the Medusa head carvings are especially celebrated.

Grand Bazaar - Cassidy Travel Istanbul City Guide

Grand Bazaar

This labyrinth of market stalls and shops has been at the heart of Istanbul city life for centuries. Its network of streets holds more than 4,000 shops where vendors sell their wares – visit to explore its busy streets where locals and people from all over gather to buy, sell and meet.

Taksim Square - Cassidy Travel Istanbul City Guide

Visit Beyoğlu

Beyoğlu District is one of the most popular places for visitors to stay when they come to Istanbul – but if you’re not already staying here it’s worth taking the time to visit. Explore historic Taksim Square and stroll down the popular shopping street of Istiklal Caddesi.

Moda, Istanbul - Cassidy Travel Istanbul City Guide

Head to the Other Side of the River

Cross the Bosphorus Strait that divides Istanbul to its underrated Asian side. The major tourist attractions like the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are located on the European side, so many visitors miss out on experience the city’s other side. Explore the Asian side of the city for a more laid-back exploration of its residential streets filled with authentic cafes and restaurants with a thriving coffee scene.


Don’t forget your visa!

Since Turkey’s not part of the EU, you’ll need an e-visa to get in the country. You can no longer just get a visa at the airport, it has to be approved ahead of time.

Dress appropriately

If visiting the Blue Mosque bear in mind that’s it’s actively used by worshippers at prayer times throughout the day – check the opening times before going. Both men and women should dress appropriately with knees and shoulders covered – no shorts allowed for men and women need to wear the headscarf which can be borrowed on site.

This blog is powered by Cassidy Travel, one of Ireland’s leading travel agencies. Our team of over 100 expert travel advisors send 1000s of Irish holidaymakers around the world every year. And we love doing it! Visit our website to start planning your next getaway. If you’re Dublin-based, drop into one of our stores. With 33 years of experience we’ve mastered the art of easy booking. Whether it’s a city escape, US adventure or family holiday we’d love to help you plan, book and dream.

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Cathal Kehoe

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