Istanbul, Bosphorus view

Travel: These are the best things to do in Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the best cities in the world for its culture, gastronomy and diversity. These are the best things to do on your trip to Istanbul

Istanbul has been named among the 50 best cities in the world by a well-known cultural magazine based in the United Kingdom, which produces a ranking of the best cities on the planet every year, and which has also published a list of the best things to do in Istanbul when travelling to this city.

“it didn’t take long for Istanbul to shake off its COVID blues and return to its energetic self. As always, the city’s culinary scene is brimming with surprises, notably thanks to a recent influx of refugees from Syria and Iran,” explains British leisure and entertainment publication Time Out, speaking of Istanbul, which is 50th in the ranking: a classification that in 2022 is headed by the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, followed by Chicago and Medellin (Colombia).

The magazine, which mentions the contribution to Istanbul’s gastronomy made by the publication this year of the first Michelin guide for the city’s restaurants, also highlights the countless musical events found in the Bosphorus metropolis to explain why we are before “one of the world’s most exciting cities right now“.

Istanbul, restaurant by the Bosphorus

Time Out also marks the reopening after many years of closure of the Atatürk Cultural Centre (AKM), with an extensive and exciting program of opera, theatre and concert performances, and film screenings. Another fact that stands out is the inauguration in 2022 of the Galata Port, the port for cruise ships built on the shores of Karaköy, and located next to the interesting Istanbul Modern museum. In addition, 97% of Istanbulites say they don’t get bored in the city, 82% highlight its food and drink offer, and 83% its cultural diversity.

The World’s Best Cities Index published by Time Out is produced through a global survey conducted among some 20,000 residents in cities around the world, who must assess a wide range of variables, ranging from nightlife and gastronomy, to culture, art, security, public transport or sustainability, although in the last two years the ranking has also taken into account how cities have dealt with the consequences of the pandemic.

Istanbul at night

Best things to do in Istanbul

In addition to naming it one of the 50 best cities in the world, the British cultural magazine also includes a list of the best things to do in Istanbul, mentioning the following:

  • marvel at the dome of Hagia Sophia
  • wander through the rooms of Topkapı Palace
  • browse the shops and haggle in the Grand Bazaar
  • be fascinated by the tile decoration of the Blue Mosque
  • travel back in time to the Byzantine era by visiting the Basilica Cistern
  • admire blooming tulips in spring at Gülhane Park
  • buy spices and souvenirs at the Spice Bazaar
  • eat a balık emek (bread with fish) on the docks of Eminönü
  • buy Turkish sweets in the old store Altan Şekerleme
  • hunt for relics at the Feriköy Antique Bazaar
  • pause for reflection in the church of St. Anthony of Padua
  • walk through Çiçek Pasajı (the Flower Passage)
  • go into a trance watching the whirling dervishes at the Galata Mevlevihanesi Museum
  • visit the Orhan Pamuk Museum of Innocence
  • enjoy a dinner and a good wine overlooking the Bosphorus at Mikla
  • listen to live jazz at the Nardis bar
  • eat typical Russian food in the 1924 restaurant
  • have a full-body rub-down at Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam
  • have lunch at the Pandeli restaurant, in the heart of the Spice Bazaar
  • take the funicular from Karaköy to Tünel, the 2nd oldest underground train in the world
  • watch an independent movie at Kadıköy Cinema
  • eat profiteroles at the famous İnci Pastanesi patisserie on İstiklal Avenue
  • attend a live concert at İKSV
  • enjoy a night at the Bomontiada complex
  • eat at the iconic Karaköy Lokantası restaurant
  • walk through the Belgrade Forest
  • enjoy a delicious kumpir (stuffed baked potato) in Ortaköy
  • savour a full and delicious Turkish breakfast at Emirgan Sütiş
  • discover ancient history at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum
  • try ancient Anatolian recipes at Çiya Sofrası
  • watch an opera or ballet performance at the Süreyya Opera House
  • have a cocktail and listen to live music at the Arkaoda club