10 Places Only Locals Know In Istanbul

Are you ready to discover the hidden gems of Istanbul? As a city steeped in history and culture, Istanbul is filled with amazing landmarks and attractions that are known to travelers from all around the world. But there are also plenty of lesser-known spots that are beloved by locals and largely undiscovered by tourists. In this post, we’ll take you on a tour of 10 of these hidden gems that only locals know about in Istanbul. From Gulhane Park with stunning views to cozy cafes tucked away in winding streets, these are the spots that will give you a true taste of local life in Istanbul. So come with us and let’s explore the city like a local!

1. Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern Istanbul
Photo Credit: Moise Nicu

The largest and probably the oldest cistern that stands beneath the city of Istanbul. It was built in the 6th century while the city was still called Constantinople and it was under the control of the Byzantine Empire. The cistern is full with Medusa statues which make the places even more interesting. The cistern is also really close to the most famous tourist destination in Istanbul – Hagia Sophia. Interesting place to visit that is fairly unknown to the international tourists.

2. Chora Church

Chora Church Istanbul
Photo Credit: Gryffindor

The Chora Church is one of the most unusual holy places in the world. Originally the place was built as a Christian Orthodox church from the Byzantine Empire, but later on, during the years of the Ottoman Empire, it was turned into a mosque. There are not that many places in the world that had been both churches and mosques. Currently, the place is a museum – the Kariye Museum and it is situated in Edirnekapi (neighborhood of Istanbul). Visit this place if you want to see how a church-mosque looks like.

3. Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul
Photo Credit: Dan

Dolmabahce Palace is one of the most beautiful buildings on the coastline of the Bosphorus strait. The palace used to be a clutch building in the Ottoman Empire administration. The place is mostly popular from the Turkish sitcoms and from the boat tours on the Bosphorus. Not that many tourists had visited Dolmabahce on the inside. You can enjoy some amazing Ottoman Empire architecture if you visit this palace situated in the Besiktas district of Istanbul.

4. Gulhane Park

Gulhane Park Istanbul
Photo Credit: Maurice Flesier

Gulhane Park is one of the most spectacular parks in the huge city of Istanbul. For most tourists, this is just the park next to the Topkapi Palace. Tourists tend to just go around the park without visiting the insides. Inside of the park, you can visit the Museum of the Islamic Science, which is a really interesting place that deserves some attention. If you prefer to visit tourist attractions with fewer crowds then do no hesitate to visit Gulhane Park on your way to Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.

5. Camlica Hill

Camlica Hill Istanbul
Photo Credit: Abdullah Muashi

Camlica Hill is one of the most relaxing places in Istanbul. This amazing hill offers a perfect view towards one of the bridges over the Bosphorus. It is standing at 268 meters above the sea level in the Asian part of the city of Istanbul. You can see most of Istanbul from this hill, including the mouth of the famous Golden Horn area. Go to Uskudar district of Istanbul if you want to spend some hours in peace and relaxation.

6. Istanbul Aquarium

Istanbul Aquarium
Photo Credit: Mostafameraji

You have not been to modern Istanbul if you had not visited the Istanbul Aquarium. The place is really huge and full of interesting things. There are thousands of species from all over the world. It is a perfect place for families with kids. Still fairly unknown for international tourists, the Istanbul Aquarium is a must see location on every tourist’s list.

7. Haydarpasa Terminal

Haydarpasa Terminal Istanbul
Photo Credit: Nevit Dilmen

The Haydarpasa Station is a really cool train station located in Istanbul. Not only that the place is perfect when it comes to transportation, but it can also show you some great architecture from the Ottoman Empire ages. The place was opened in 1872 during the Ottoman ages and until now it is one of the best-preserved buildings from the ancient ages. Visit Haydarpasa if you want to check how the Ottomans used to live and what kind of buildings they used to create.

8. Valens Aqueduct

Valens Aqueduct Istanbul
Photo Credit: Виктор Прокопеня

The Valens Aqueduct is an old aqueduct from the time of the Roman Empire. It was a key point in the water-providing system of the capital of Constantinople. The place was built in the 4th century by the Roman Emperor Valens. Most tourists had driven by this place without knowing what is it actually. Nowadays the Aqueduct stands over one of the major roads of Istanbul – the Ataturk Bulevard.

9. Istanbul University

Istanbul University
Photo Credit: needpix.com

The Istanbul University if one of the oldest universities in Europe and West Asia. The place was established in 1453 and it can offer some amazing architecture. Most tourists do not have an interest in university designs, but I guarantee you that you will be amazed by everything surrounding this institution. Do not hesitate to check the Istanbul University while you are visiting this gorgeous city. You can even enter some of the facilities.

10. Sakirin Mosque

Sakirin Mosque Istanbul
Photo Credit: William Neuheisel

The Sakirin Mosque is one of the most modern mosques in the Islamic world. The place was opened in 2009 and it offers another type of Islamic architecture for the holy Islamic mosques. Sakirin Mosque would be interesting not only for tourists from Islamic religion but for everyone because it presents how the modern Muslims holy places look like. Do not hesitate to visit this mosque.
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