Memphis Tours Blogs

Unforgettable Turkey Tours: Exploring the Best of Istanbul

Istanbul, the cultural and historical capital of Turkey, offers a mesmerizing blend of ancient architecture, vibrant neighborhoods, and rich history. As you plan your trip to this enchanting city, it's essential to include some of the top attractions and experiences that Istanbul has to offer. Whether you're a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply seeking a glimpse into the city's vibrant culture, there are plenty of Turkey tours that will leave you awe-inspired. In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you on a virtual tour of Istanbul's most captivating sites, providing you with all the information you need to plan your unforgettable Turkey trip.

1. The Basilica Cistern: A Subterranean Marvel

Hidden beneath the bustling streets of Istanbul lies the Basilica Cistern, an underground marvel that showcases the ingenuity of Byzantine engineering. Also known as Yerebatan Sarnıcı, this cavernous space is supported by multiple symmetrical rows of marble columns, beautifully illuminated to cast a dreamlike glow over the still waters. The highlight of the cistern is the Medusa head columns, intriguing artifacts that blend myth with history. As you wander through the cool and quiet atmosphere, you'll be transported to a different world, far removed from the city's hustle and bustle. Entry to the Basilica Cistern costs 450 Liras per person, and tickets can be purchased at the entrance. While queues are known to form, the experience is highly recommended, offering a unique perspective on Istanbul's ancient past.
"The highlight of our visit to Istanbul. At nearly 1500 years old, the building is incredible, and there is so much culture." - Tripadvisor member

2. Suleymaniye Mosque: A Majestic Architectural Wonder

As you explore Istanbul's historic sites, a visit to the Suleymaniye Mosque is an absolute must. Located near the Grand Bazaar, this mosque was commissioned by Sultan Suleiman I The Magnificent and designed by the renowned architect Mimar Sinan. Built between 1550-7, this architectural masterpiece is similar in design to the Aya Sofya, but with its own unique charm. Perched on a hilltop, the mosque offers breathtaking panoramic views of Istanbul and stands as a symbol of the city's rich Ottoman heritage. As you explore the mosque's grounds, you'll also discover the tombs of Sultan Suleiman and his wife, Roxelana, which add to the site's historical significance.
"Beautiful Mosque. Rivaled only by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Amazing Mosque." - Tripadvisor member


3. Topkapi Palace: A Glimpse into Ottoman Grandeur

Prepare to be transported back in time as you step into the opulent world of the Topkapi Palace. This magnificent historical site embodies the grand living style of the Ottoman Empire and its emperors. The palace's exquisite architecture, panoramic views of the Bosphorus, and lush courtyards make it a must-visit attraction in Istanbul. Inside, you'll be dazzled by the ornate rooms, a rich collection of artifacts, and imperial treasures. Don't miss the Harem section, once the private quarters of the Sultan, which adds a layer of intrigue to your visit. While the palace can get crowded, its cultural and historical significance make it a jewel in Istanbul's historic landscape. A visit to Topkapi Palace also grants you free entry into Hagia Irene, another must-see site in the same location.
"We visited Topkapi Palace today, and it was an amazing visit. Its exquisite architecture, panoramic views of the Bosphorus, and lush courtyards are a must-see." - Tripadvisor member

4. Galata Tower: A Bird's Eye View of Istanbul

For breathtaking panoramic views of Istanbul, a visit to Galata Tower is a must. As you ascend the tower, you'll be rewarded with an awe-inspiring vista of the city's skyline. Capture memorable photographs, soak in the beauty of Istanbul's iconic landmarks, and let the city's charm unfold before your eyes. To enhance your experience, consider taking a guided tour with a knowledgeable local guide who can provide fascinating insights into the tower's history and the surrounding area. Don't forget to express your gratitude to your tour guide for making your visit entertaining, informative, and enjoyable.
"I would definitely recommend visiting Galata Tower. The view from the top is just amazing." - Tripadvisor member

5. Gülhane Park: A Tranquil Oasis in the Heart of Istanbul

Nestled beside the Topkapi Palace, Gülhane Park offers a lush green sanctuary amidst the bustling city. This historic park, once the royal garden of the Ottoman Empire, is now a public park that invites visitors to immerse themselves in tranquility and natural beauty. Take a leisurely stroll along its well-maintained pathways, surrounded by a variety of trees and flowers. Enjoy the scenic views of the Bosphorus and admire historical monuments like the Goths' Column. Gülhane Park is the perfect spot for a family picnic or a serene escape from the urban hustle. Don't miss the opportunity to experience Istanbul's natural beauty in this urban oasis.
"Gülhane Park is perfect for leisurely strolls, family picnics, and experiencing Istanbul's natural beauty amidst its urban hustle." - Tripadvisor member

6. Blue Mosque: A Serene Place of Worship

No visit to Istanbul is complete without stepping into the Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Admire the intricate blue tiles that adorn the mosque's interior walls, giving it its nickname. Built in the early 17th century, this architectural gem is a testament to the city's rich history and Islamic heritage. As you explore the mosque, take a moment to appreciate its stunning domes, minarets, and the peaceful atmosphere that surrounds you. Please note that appropriate attire is required to enter the Blue Mosque, and visitors are requested to remove their shoes before entering.
"The Blue Mosque is a serene place of worship, and its intricate blue tiles are a sight to behold." - Tripadvisor member

7. Dolmabahçe Palace: A Blend of Ottoman and European Splendor

Immerse yourself in the grandeur of the Dolmabahçe Palace, an architectural masterpiece that seamlessly blends Ottoman and European styles. This majestic palace, located on the European shores of the Bosphorus, offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Ottoman sultans. Marvel at the lavish decorations, stunning crystal chandeliers, and intricate gold leaf details that adorn its rooms. The palace's gardens, with the Bosphorus as a backdrop, provide a serene setting for a leisurely stroll. As you explore this historic site, you'll also discover its significance as the place where Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, spent his last days. Please note that photography is restricted in certain areas of the palace.
"We visited Dolmabahçe Palace today, and it was an unforgettable experience. The blend of Ottoman and European architectural styles creates a uniquely majestic ambiance." - Tripadvisor member

8. Istanbul Archaeological Museums: A Journey through Ancient History

Delve into the ancient world at the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, where significant finds from various civilizations are on display. Accessible from Gulhane Park or within the courtyards of the Topkapi Palace, these museums offer a treasure trove of artifacts and historical relics. While some sections of the museum may be closed for restoration, there is still much to explore. Marvel at exhibits from excavations in Sidon and Troy, including the awe-inspiring Alexander sarcophagus. The museum also provides documentary evidence of how these finds were excavated and restored, showcasing the skills of craftsmen from centuries ago. A visit to the Istanbul Archaeological Museums is a journey through time, offering a deeper understanding of Istanbul's rich history.
"This museum boasts a number of significant finds from the Ancient World, and the skill of craftsmen several hundred years BC is truly impressive." - Tripadvisor member

9. Sultanahmed Square: The Epicenter of Historical Istanbul

Located in the heart of Istanbul, Sultanahmed Square serves as the epicenter of the city's major historical buildings. This bustling square is a must-visit for history enthusiasts, offering easy access to iconic landmarks such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. Immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of Turkey as you explore this vibrant area. Stroll along the square, take in the architectural marvels, and soak in the lively atmosphere. You'll also find soldiers and police ensuring the safety of visitors, making it a pleasant and secure environment to explore.
"Sultanahmed Square is the center of all the major historical buildings in Istanbul. It is the epicenter of all the sightseeing spots!" - Tripadvisor member

10. Istanbul Museum of Transport: A Journey through Transportation History

If you're fascinated by the evolution of transportation, a visit to the Istanbul Museum of Transport is a must. Located in the city's historic Fatih district, this museum showcases a wide range of exhibits from various forms of transportation, including cars, bikes, horses, boats, and trains. Step back in time as you explore the museum's collection of old vehicles and gain insights into Istanbul's transportation history. From train carriages to moored ships, there's something here for everyone. While the museum may lack proper signage, take your time to explore each area and don't miss the opportunity to learn about Istanbul's fascinating transportation heritage.
"Great museum displaying old exhibits from all forms of transport. Something here for everyone." - Tripadvisor member

11. Uncover History at Istanbul's Archaeological Museum

For a deep dive into the ancient world, the Istanbul Archaeological Museum is a treasure trove of historical artifacts. Located within the Topkapi Palace complex, this museum presents a comprehensive collection of archaeological finds from various civilizations. While some areas may be closed for restoration, you'll still have the opportunity to admire significant pieces such as the Ishtar Gate and the Treaty of Kadesh. The museum provides valuable insights into how these ancient artifacts were excavated and restored, highlighting the skills of both the craftsmen who created them and the archaeologists who uncovered them. Don't miss the chance to explore the different levels of civilization in Troy through a unique wall display.
"This museum boasts a number of significant finds from the Ancient World, and the skill of the excavators and restorers is truly impressive." - Tripadvisor member

In Conclusion

Istanbul is a city that captivates with its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture. From the underground marvel of the Basilica Cistern to the grandeur of Topkapi Palace, each attraction offers a unique glimpse into Istanbul's past. Whether you're exploring the city's historic sites or strolling through its tranquil parks, there's no shortage of unforgettable experiences in Istanbul. So pack your bags, book your Turkey tour, and get ready to embark on a journey that will leave you with lasting memories of this enchanting city.
"Wherever we went, we were amazed by the rich culture and history of Turkey. A MUST!" - Tripadvisor member

Related Tours
Social Media