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Istanbul see + do

For visitors to Istanbul, the question is not what one should see in the city, but what one can afford to skip until the next visit. Those on a one- or two-day itinerary should plan for immediate immersion in the historical district, from the majestic palaces and mosques of Sultanahmet to the exotic Oriental alleys of the Grand Bazaar, squeezing in an hour-long hammam treatment to unwind.

Culture fiends who want to go slightly off the beaten path usually head to the quieter Süleymaniye Mosque, the farther-flung Kariye Museum, or the superb Dolmabahçe Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus near Beşiktaş.

For those with a little more time on their hands, İstiklal Caddesi—the main pedestrian drag through Beyoğlu—and its surrounding neighborhoods of Galata, Tünel, and Çukurcuma are ideal for day and night-time wanderings, while art buffs shouldn't miss the neo-industrial structures of the Istanbul Modern and Santral Istanbul, as well as the state-of-the art architecture at the Kanyon Shopping Center.

If Istanbul's bustle and the traffic become too much to bear, take to the water: The serene car-free Princes' Islands are only a short boat trip across the Sea of Marmara, and you really can't top chartering your own private yacht for a Champagne sunset sail up the Bosphorus.

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Santral Istanbul, Eyüp

This art gallery and museum is set inside an impressive structure that was Turkey's first industrial power station, or santral. Located near the source of the...more

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Süleymaniye Mosque, Süleymaniye

Escape the Sultanahmet crowds and head for this impressive and undervisited complex, just a short walk past the University from the back of the Grand Bazaar....more

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Sultanahmet: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

Don't even dream of leaving Istanbul without visiting this holy trinity of sights. Packed with tourists, touts, and queues they may be, but the history and...more

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Topkapı Palace, Gülhane

You'd expect the centuries-long family home of one of the world's foremost ruling dynasties and command center of an entire empire to be pretty impressive, and...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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