At some point in the future, I'll probably make another visit to Istanbul. Here are some things I might like to see. Some of them I have seen before. Whether I want to see them again depends on who's with me.
North of the Golden Horn
- Taksim Square
- Nostaljik Tram
- Nevizade Sokak
- Tünel Underground Funicular
- Galata Tower
- Istiklal Street - Turkish Delight
- The Dolmabahçe Palace
South of the Golden Horn - the Old City
- Blue Mosque
- The Column of Constantine
- The Grand Bazaar
- Süleymaniye Mosque
- The Topkapı Palace
- Hagia Sophia
- The Yerevatan Cistern
- Sultanahmet Square, Old Hippodrome and the Columns
- The Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar
- The Süleymaniye Mosque
- Rüstem Paşa Mosque
- The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
- Archaeology Museum(s) - still mainly closed - museum pass gives 10% discount in shop and café
- Railway Museum at Sirkeci Station, Eminönü (Istanbul Demiryolu Müzesi)
- Hagia Eirene
- The Tombs of the Sultans
- Blue (Sultanahmet Mosque)
Fatih/Constantinople - Further West
- Panorama 1453
- The Land Walls of Theodosius
- The Chora Church Museum
- Laleli (Tulip) Mosque - Ottoman baroque interior (on Tram T1 - Laleli-Üniversite)
- Valens Aqueduct
- Yedikule Hisari Castle of Seven Towers and the Golden Gate
- Belgrad Gate (aka Xylokerkos Gate) - a restored gate of the Walls - one site puts the Xylokerkos Gate in a different place
A Bit Further Out
- Rumeli Hisari Müzesi (Fortress of Europe)
- Beylerbeyi Palace (Asian Side)
- Tombili Cat Statue in Kadıköy
- Moda Loop Tram
- Sea Life
- Kadiköy Crocodile, Cat and Bull
The Museum Pass goes up in price all the time. In October 2018, it cost 185 TL per person (about €30) but it was significantly more than that in 2019. It gives admission into most things: Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace and Hagia Eirene, Mosaic Museum, Chora Museum, Archaeological Museum etc. Also allows you to join the priority queue. Covers five days and you can go once into each attraction.
Some other sights give a discount with it as well.
It does not cover the following paying attractions: the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Yerevatan Cistern, the Galata Tower or Panorama 1453.
Şehir Hatları is a reputable transport company operating most of the major ferries. Their terminal appears to be in Eminönü to the east of the Galata Bridge.
They do a Short Circle Bosphorus Tour (Kısa Boğaz Turu) which takes 2 hours and goes from Eminonu as far as the 2nd Bridge (Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge) and back. Sounds about right. Current timetable says it starts at 14:30. Discount 25% with museum pass. In Winter Season, this seems to run only on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Full Bosphorus Tour (Uzun Boğaz Turu) takes about 6 hours in total so it sounds too much for our short trip.
There are two aquariums in Istanbul:
- Sea Life - very good. More than enough fish. Get T1 tram as far as Yusufpaşa, walk to Metro station Aksaray (350m), get Metro line M1 as far as Kocatepe, walk about 300m to Sea Life.
- Istanbul Aquarium (İstanbul Akvaryum) - this is supposed to be one of the biggest aquariums in the world, but it is hard to get to, being just beyond Ataturk Airport. You can get a train and then a bus.
Ferry Along the Golden Horn
The Haliç Hatti (Golden Horn Line) goes from Eyüp along the Golden Horn and then across the Bosphorus to Üsküdar once an hour on the half hour, stopping at:
Eyüp (S), Sütlüce (N), Ayvansaray (S), Hasköy (N), Balat(S), Fener (S), Kasimpaşa (N), Karaköy (N) (east of the bridge), Üsküdar (E)
S = south (Fatih/Constantinople) side of Golden Horn
N = north (Beyoğlu/Galata) side
E = Asian side of Bosphorus
Fare seems to be small (1TL?, 3TL?)
The Aynalıkavak Kasrı Museum
This is described as a 'hidden gem' by some. It is an Ottoman "Kiosk" (Mansion) in the Hasköy region on the north side of the Golden Horn. The building is a good example of Ottoman architecture and also houses a collection of Turkish classical musical instruments in the basement.
The name is not the one the Ottomans used for the building. It appears to mean literally 'Mirrored Poplar Pavilion'. One site says it is called this because of a bizarre story about Venetians hanging decorative mirrors on the trees. Another site says it is actuall 'Poplar with Target Pavilion' because there was an archery target on one of the trees.
The museum is hard to get to as it is not near a tram or metro. You can take a bus (47, 47C, 47E from Eminönü) or taxi, or can take the Haliç Hatti ferry to Hasköy and walk 800m. Open every day except Monday and Thursday, 09:00 - 16:00. Admission 5TL. There's a café.
A palace was built on the site in the 1600s and it presumably had a nice view out over the Golden Horn, but later a huge shipyard was built between it and the water. The present building dates from 1703 but was remodelled a few times in the late 18th and the 19th centuries.
Fethiye Museum aka Pammakaristos
According to the official website, this has been closed for restoration since April 2018.
Some Turkish Words used in Place Names
- Bulvar - Boulevard / Avenue
- Caddesi - Avenue / Street
- Cami - Mosque
- Çarşi - Bazaar, Market
- Çeşmesi - Drinking Fountain
- Haliç - Estuary, The Golden Horn
- Kapı - Gate
- Köprüsü - Bridge
- Medresesi - Religious School
- Müzesi - Museum
- Sarayı - Palace
- Sokaku - Street / Lane
- Türbesi - Mausoleum / Tomb