Top Things to Do in Istanbul in 2023: Must-Visit Attractions & More

Things to do in Istanbul in 2023

Welcome to Istanbul, a city with a fascinating history and a vibrant culture that spans across two continents. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there is always something new to discover in Istanbul. In 2023, the city will host many exciting events, from the Istanbul Biennial to the Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix. But even beyond these events, there are countless reasons to visit Istanbul and experience its unique charm.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover the rich history of Istanbul by exploring its historic landmarks and museums
  • Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the city’s bazaars and markets
  • Indulge in the delicious flavors of Turkish cuisine and traditional delights
  • Relax and unwind in Istanbul’s beautiful parks and gardens
  • Enjoy breathtaking views of the city from its rooftop bars and restaurants
  • Explore Istanbul’s thriving modern and contemporary art scene
  • Take in the beauty of Istanbul’s waterfront and enjoy a Bosphorus cruise

Explore Historic Landmarks and Museums

Istanbul is a city steeped in history. With its rich cultural heritage, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring historic landmarks and museums. Here are a few must-visit attractions in 2023:

Hagia Sophia

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hagia Sophia is a breathtaking architectural wonder. Built in 537 AD as a church, it was converted into a mosque in 1453, and then into a museum in 1935. Visitors can explore the ancient mosaics, stunning domes, and intricate architecture.

Topkapi Palace

Once home to Ottoman sultans, Topkapi Palace is now a museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Ottoman Empire. With its sprawling courtyards, stunning gardens, and ornate architecture, this palace is a true marvel.

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

This museum showcases the cultural heritage of Turkey and the Islamic world. With a vast collection of ceramics, calligraphy, textiles, and other artifacts, visitors can explore the rich history of the region.

These are just a few of the many historic landmarks and museums that Istanbul has to offer in 2023. Each attraction offers a unique glimpse into the city’s vibrant culture and heritage.

Experience the Vibrant Bazaars and Markets

One of the best ways to discover Istanbul’s culture is by exploring its bustling bazaars and markets. From the colorful spices to the intricate textiles, these shopping destinations offer a unique experience that is not to be missed in 2023.

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s largest covered markets, with over 4,000 shops selling everything from jewelry and textiles to ceramics and souvenirs. This historic market is a must-visit attraction in Istanbul.

Location Opening Hours
Beyazıt, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul Monday – Saturday: 09:00 – 19:00
Sunday: Closed

Spice Bazaar

The Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, is the perfect place to indulge in the flavors of Istanbul. Visitors can find a variety of herbs, spices, tea, and Turkish Delights while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere.

Location Opening Hours
Rüstem Paşa, Erzak Ambarı Sk. No:92, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul Everyday: 08:00 – 19:00

Arasta Bazaar

The Arasta Bazaar is located near the impressive Blue Mosque and is a great place to purchase traditional Turkish handicrafts, such as carpets, ceramics, and textiles.

Location Opening Hours
Sultan Ahmet, Arasta Çarşısı No:143, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul Everyday: 09:00 – 20:00

“The bazaars and markets in Istanbul are a true reflection of the city’s rich history and culture. They are the perfect place to shop for unique souvenirs and experience the authentic atmosphere of Istanbul.” – Local Istanbul Resident

Indulge in Turkish Cuisine and Traditional Delights

One of the key reasons to visit Istanbul in 2023 is to experience the rich and diverse Turkish cuisine. From world-renowned specialties like kebabs and baklava, to the lesser-known but equally delicious mezes and böreks, there is something to suit every palate.

Here are some must-try Turkish dishes and traditional delicacies to savor during your trip:

Dish Description Where to Try It
Kebab A grilled meat dish typically served with rice, vegetables and bread. Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi for a traditional experience or Nusr-Et for a modern twist.
Meze Small plates of cold or hot appetizers, perfect for sharing and sampling a variety of flavors. Meyhane restaurants like Refik, serving authentic mezes and raki, a traditional Turkish liquor.
Baklava A sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and syrup. Karaköy Güllüoğlu, a renowned baklava shop with multiple locations in Istanbul.
Çiğ köfte A vegetarian dish made of bulgur wheat, spices, and tomato paste, served with lettuce leaves. Çiğköftem, a popular chain with locations scattered throughout Istanbul.

There are also many renowned restaurants throughout the city that offer a fusion of traditional and modern Turkish cuisine, such as Mikla and Neolokal. Don’t miss out on experiencing the local food markets like Kadıköy or the Spice Bazaar, where you can buy fresh and authentic ingredients to take home.

Relax and Unwind in Istanbul’s Parks and Gardens

Need a break from the busy streets of Istanbul in 2023? Look no further than the city’s serene parks and gardens. Istanbul is home to several stunning green spaces, perfect for those seeking tranquility, fresh air, and natural beauty.

One of the most popular parks is Emirgan Park, located on the European side of the city. It boasts a wide variety of plants and trees, including tulips, and offers breathtaking views of the Bosphorus. Another must-visit park is Yıldız Park, which has winding walking paths, historic pavilions, and even a small hill where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Istanbul.

If you’re looking for a more tropical vibe, head to Gülhane Park, which is home to palm trees and exotic plants. Located in the heart of the city, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic or a peaceful stroll. Or for a truly unique experience, visit the Istanbul Flower Passage, a historic arcade located in the old city. It’s filled with beautiful, fragrant flowers and plants, and makes for a colorful and enchanting escape from the hustle and bustle.

No matter which park or garden you choose to visit in Istanbul in 2023, you’re sure to find a peaceful retreat from the city’s energy.

Enjoy Breathtaking Views from Rooftop Bars and Restaurants

When it comes to dining in Istanbul, the city offers a unique experience that combines delicious food with stunning views. Head to one of Istanbul’s many rooftop bars and restaurants and take in the breathtaking scenery while enjoying your meal or drink.

360 Istanbul

One of the most popular rooftop bars in Istanbul is 360 Istanbul. Located in an 19th-century apartment building, 360 Istanbul boasts panoramic views of the city’s skyline, Bosphorus, and Golden Horn. This restaurant and bar is known for its Mediterranean-inspired menu and live DJ performances.

Name Location
360 Istanbul Istiklal Caddesi Mısır Apt. K.8 No:163 Beyoğlu

Mikla Restaurant

If you’re looking for a fine dining experience with a view, Mikla Restaurant is a must-visit. Located on the rooftop of the Marmara Pera Hotel, Mikla offers a modern take on Turkish cuisine and a stunning view of the city’s skyline and Golden Horn.

Name Location
Mikla Restaurant Marmara Pera Hotel, Meşrutiyet Cd. No:15, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul

Other options include Leb-i Derya, a Mediterranean restaurant with a view of the Bosphorus, and The Galata Istanbul Hotel – MGallery by Sofitel, which offers a rooftop bar with a view of the Galata Tower.

No matter which rooftop bar or restaurant you choose, you are sure to enjoy a memorable dining experience with some of the best views in the city.

Discover Istanbul’s Modern Art and Contemporary Scene

Art enthusiasts visiting Istanbul in 2023 are in for a treat. The city’s modern art galleries and contemporary exhibitions are a must-see for anyone interested in the arts.

One of the top galleries to visit is the Istanbul Modern, located on the city’s waterfront. The museum features a permanent collection of Turkish contemporary art, as well as rotating exhibitions from international artists.

Another must-visit destination is the Pera Museum, located in the trendy Beyoglu neighborhood. The museum showcases an impressive collection of Orientalist paintings, as well as exhibitions featuring the works of Turkish and international artists.

For those interested in contemporary photography, be sure to visit the Istanbul Photography Museum. The museum features rotating exhibitions from local and international photographers, as well as a permanent collection of Turkish photography.

In addition to the galleries and museums, Istanbul’s vibrant art scene also includes cultural events such as the Istanbul Biennial and the Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair.

Don’t miss the opportunity to discover Istanbul’s modern art and contemporary scene during your visit in 2023. It’s a must-see for any art lover.

Explore Istanbul’s Waterfront and Take a Bosphorus Cruise

It’s impossible to visit Istanbul without admiring its picturesque waterfront. If you want a closer look at the breathtaking views of the Bosphorus Strait, taking a Bosphorus cruise is a must. The cruise will take you along the waterway that separates Europe and Asia and offer views of some of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

You can choose from a variety of Bosphorus cruise options, depending on your preference. Some cruises are shorter and focus more on the sights, while others are longer and offer a full dining experience. Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take stunning pictures and enjoy the beauty of Istanbul from a unique perspective.

Top Spots along the Coast

Spot Description
Ortaköy This charming neighborhood is home to a picturesque waterfront mosque and a variety of restaurants and cafes.
Galata Bridge This historic bridge offers fantastic views of Istanbul’s old town and is a popular spot for fishing.
Üsküdar This lively neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul offers a vibrant atmosphere and stunning views of the city’s skyline.

If you’re looking for a romantic experience, consider taking a Bosphorus cruise at sunset. The orange and pink hues of the sunset create a magical atmosphere as you cruise along the waterway. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the unforgettable moments.

Whether you choose a short or long cruise, taking a Bosphorus cruise is an experience you won’t forget. It’s the perfect way to relax and unwind while taking in the beauty of Istanbul’s breathtaking waterfront.


Congratulations, you’ve reached the end of our guide to the top things to do in Istanbul in 2023! We hope this article has given you a taste of what this magnificent city has to offer. From exploring historic landmarks and museums, to indulging in Turkish cuisine and traditional delights, to relaxing in Istanbul’s parks and gardens, there is something for everyone in this captivating city.

Don’t forget to also enjoy the stunning views from rooftop bars and restaurants, discover Istanbul’s modern art and contemporary scene, and explore the city’s beautiful waterfront by taking a Bosphorus cruise.

Plan Your Trip Today!

We encourage you to start planning your trip to Istanbul in 2023, so you can experience these must-visit attractions for yourself. With so many things to do and see, you’ll never run out of places to explore and memories to make. Istanbul is a city that will leave you enchanted and captivated long after your visit is over.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing about your adventures in Istanbul!


Q: What are the top things to do in Istanbul in 2023?

A: Some of the must-visit attractions in Istanbul in 2023 include exploring historic landmarks and museums, experiencing the vibrant bazaars and markets, indulging in Turkish cuisine and traditional delights, relaxing in Istanbul’s parks and gardens, enjoying breathtaking views from rooftop bars and restaurants, discovering Istanbul’s modern art and contemporary scene, and exploring the city’s waterfront and taking a Bosphorus cruise.

Q: Which historic landmarks and museums should I explore in Istanbul?

A: Istanbul is rich in history and offers a variety of historic landmarks and museums to explore. Some of the top recommendations include the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, and the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

Q: What should I expect when visiting the vibrant bazaars and markets in Istanbul?

A: Visiting the vibrant bazaars and markets in Istanbul is a unique experience. You can expect a bustling atmosphere filled with colorful stalls offering a variety of goods such as spices, textiles, ceramics, and traditional Turkish products. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local culture and find unique souvenirs.

Q: What are some must-try Turkish dishes and recommended restaurants in Istanbul?

A: When it comes to Turkish cuisine, you must try dishes like kebabs, baklava, Turkish delight, and Turkish tea. Istanbul is also home to many fantastic restaurants that offer traditional Turkish cuisine. Some recommended options include Ciya Sofrasi, Mikla, and Antiochia Concept.

Q: Where can I relax and unwind in Istanbul’s parks and gardens?

A: Istanbul has several serene parks and gardens where you can escape the city’s hustle and bustle. Some popular options include Gulhane Park, Yildiz Park, Emirgan Park, and the Princes’ Islands.

Q: Which rooftop bars and restaurants offer breathtaking views in Istanbul?

A: Istanbul boasts stunning views from its rooftop bars and restaurants. For panoramic vistas, consider visiting places like 360 Istanbul, Mikla, and Leb-i Derya. They offer an unforgettable dining experience with breathtaking views of the city.

Q: What should art enthusiasts explore in Istanbul’s modern art and contemporary scene?

A: Istanbul’s modern art and contemporary scene offer a wealth of galleries, exhibitions, and cultural events. Some top recommendations include Istanbul Modern, Pera Museum, Istanbul Biennial, and Contemporary Istanbul.

Q: Where can I enjoy Istanbul’s waterfront and take a Bosphorus cruise?

A: Istanbul’s waterfront is a beautiful place to explore, and taking a Bosphorus cruise is a must-do experience. You can enjoy scenic spots along the coast like Ortakoy and Bebek. For a memorable cruise, consider using public ferries or booking a private Bosphorus tour.

Q: What are the key takeaways for visiting Istanbul in 2023?

A: Istanbul offers a wide range of experiences and attractions in 2023. From historic landmarks and museums to vibrant bazaars, delicious cuisine, tranquil parks, stunning views, thriving art scene, and a beautiful waterfront, there is something for everyone. Plan your trip and make the most of your time in this captivating city.