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9 Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Istanbul

9 Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Istanbul

Istanbul, the former capital of both the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire, boasts a fascinating history dating back thousands of years. From ancient ruins to 16th-century masterpieces, here are some of the must-see UNESCO World Heritage–listed sites and landmarks in Istanbul.

Sarayburnu

Sarayburnu is a strategically significant promontory between the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. Home to the famous Topkapi Palace and Gulhane Park, Sarayburnu attracts visitors keen to admire sweeping views over the coastal scenery.

Topkapi Palace

Fifteenth-century Topkapi Palace was once home to the Ottoman sultans, and today houses one of Turkey’s largest museums. Treasures within include 13th-century Japanese porcelain and weaponry used by the Ottoman army. Topkapi Palace is featured on most Istanbul walking tours.

Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofia)

The first Christian cathedral in the Roman Empire, Hagia Sophia dates back to the sixth century. This extraordinary building has played the role of basilica and imperial mosque during its lifetime and today houses a museum. Its interior showcases Byzantine mosaics and marble ornamentation, and shines a light on 10th-century Roman leaders including Emperor Alexander.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Widely known as the Blue Mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque has been a site of Islamic worship since 1616. With 13 domes and six minarets, the mosque is a standout on the Istanbul skyline. Visitors can explore the mosque on guided tours and admire treasures including the blue Iznik tiles that cover the ceiling.

Hagia Irene

For generations Hagia Irene served as an Eastern Orthodox church, and today is a popular museum and concert hall. It sits within one of Topkapi Palace’s courtyards, behind Hagia Sophia, and hosts to classical music concerts and art exhibitions.

Zeyrek Mosque

Built in the 12th century, the Zeyrek Mosque is a fine example of Byzantine architecture and one of the largest of its kind in Istanbul today. With recessed brickwork, colored marble, and ancient mosaics, the Zeyrek Mosque showcases the architectural styles of Constantinople from the 12th to the 15th centuries.

Suleymaniye Mosque

Designed by acclaimed Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, the Suleymaniye Mosque takes pride of place on the Third Hill. One of the biggest mosques in the city, it was completed in 1558 and still welcomes visitors. Skip-the-line tours allow travelers to bypass the entry lines.

Little Hagia Sophia

Once a Greek Eastern Orthodox church, Little Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque under Ottoman rule. The exterior features architectural techniques attributed to the builders of Constantinople, while the inside of the building boasts a spectacular two-story colonnade with dedications to past emperors and patron-saints.

Walls of Constantinople

These defensive stone walls once encircled Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), helping protect the city from attack. Today, visitors can walk uphill from the Ayvansaray neighborhood to see what remains of the walls. Nearby attractions include the old church of the Holy Saviour in Chora—now the Kariye Museum—with its mosaics and paintings.

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7 Tours and Activities | All Istanbul Tours

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2-Day Cappadocia Tour with Optional Hot Air Balloon Ride
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

2-Day Cappadocia Tour with Optional Hot Air Balloon Ride

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58
Discover the otherworldly wonders of Cappadocia on this immersive overnight tour, including a one-way flight from Istanbul. This tour is designed to make your travels hassle-free and informative. Explore Cappadocia’s stunning terrain on a hike through the Rose Valley, admire fairy chimneys, blue skies and houses that have been carved into the sides of mountains at Çavuşin and the UNESCO-listed Göreme Open-Air Museum. Rest in comfort at a local hotel, included in the tour. If you choose, upgrade your trip by opting in for an unforgettable hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia.
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  • 2 days
  • Taking safety measures
From
$435.00
Price varies by group size
From
$435.00
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Small Group Tour - Full Day Istanbul City Tour

Small Group Tour - Full Day Istanbul City Tour

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58
Experience Turkey’s Ottoman and Byzantine eras during this full-day guided Istanbul city tour in the Sultanahmet district. Aboard a comfortable coach, head to top attractions like Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and the UNESCO-listed museum Hagia Sophia. Witness the lively atmosphere of one of the world’s largest covered markets - the Grand Bazaar. Prior to lunch, enjoy engaging stories about sultans and their harems and other Istanbul lore from your friendly local guide.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$95.88
From
$95.88
Taking safety measures

Day Tour - Troy Tour from Istanbul

Day Tour - Troy Tour from Istanbul

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102
Uncover ancient Greek mythology and the history of the Trojan War during this guided day trip to Troy from Istanbul. During a walking tour, learn about the famous archaeological site of Troy and see a replica statue of the Trojan Horse. Then, delve into the interesting era’s of Troy and discover how this settlement transformed over time. Plus, enjoy a visit to the small coastal town of Eceabat for lunch.
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  • 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$118.65
From
$118.65
Taking safety measures

Istanbul Classics & Highlights Full Day Tour

Istanbul Classics & Highlights Full Day Tour

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44
Head back in time and discover the old world of the Sultanahmet area during this full-day small-group guided walking tour in Istanbul. This tour explores the amazing UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hagia Sophia Museum and the Blue Mosque which exemplify why Istanbul is the city where east meets west. Enjoy a walk through the famous Topkapi Palace where Sultan's roamed and harems flourished. Plus, spend time observing the Hagia Irene’s Byzantine architecture and stroll through the Grand Bazaar to witness handicrafts created by local artists.
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  • 7 hours 30 minutes to 8 hours 20 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$107.86
From
$107.86
Taking safety measures

Skip the Line: Topkapi Palace Including Süleymaniye Mosque and Ceramics Workshop in Istanbul
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Skip the Line: Topkapi Palace Including Süleymaniye Mosque and Ceramics Workshop in Istanbul

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15
Save time and skip the line on this small-group guided half-day Topkapi Palace Istanbul tour which includes a visit to Süleymaniye Mosque and a ceramics workshop. Jump ahead of the rest and step into Topkapi Palace to explore courtyards, treasures and rooms of artifacts. See where Ottoman sultans once assembled their harems and visit the Palace Harem (own expense). Then, marvel at the 16th-century Süleymaniye Mosque before you discover a workshop where master potters fire their elegant ceramic pieces. Small-group tours are limited to 15 guests to assure an intimate day with your guide.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$59.92
From
$59.92
Taking safety measures

Istanbul Super Saver: Small-Group City Sightseeing Tour plus Turkish Dinner and Show
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Istanbul Super Saver: Small-Group City Sightseeing Tour plus Turkish Dinner and Show

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58
Discover the enchanting city of Istanbul on this convenient two-in-one tour that saves you 10% off the normal price. By combining two of Istanbul’s best-selling tours, you’re guaranteed to see the best of this historic city in one convenient trip. Don’t miss sites like the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Take advantage of some time on your own to explore, then savor a 4-course Turkish dinner and with belly dancing and live traditional Turkish folk music.
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  • 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$135.00
From
$135.00
Taking safety measures

5-Day Tour of Istanbul, Ephesus and Pamukkale

5-Day Tour of Istanbul, Ephesus and Pamukkale

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2
Sample Turkey’s historic gems, vibrant culture and natural wonders on this 5-day small-group tour of Istanbul, Ephesus and Pamukkale, including domestic flights, transfers and accommodation. Spend a full-day enjoying Istanbul’s highlights, including Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, then journey to UNESCO-listed Ephesus to explore the remarkable ancient city and see the sacred House of the Virgin Mary. Finally, plunge into the thermal waters of Pamukkale and bathe against a post-card worthy backdrop of the striking white travertines.
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  • 5 days
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$729.00
From
$729.00
Taking safety measures