Istanbul is a beautiful city that is rich in historical culture. You can enjoy a few free activities between visiting high-end shops and dining at world-class restaurants. Some of the city’s oldest and most impressive sites are free for locals and tourists. Make your way through the narrow alleys of the Grand Bazaar, wander through Sultanahmet Square, or step through time in one of the world’s wonders, the Hagia Sophia.
Nothing ignites your senses more than visiting the Grand Bazaar. This sprawling market features vendors selling their handmade and unique wares. Browse through leather goods, fine jewelry, lanterns, rugs, and exotic spices. If you want to purchase goods or souvenirs to take home, you will want to hone your bargaining skills, as haggling is expected.
In the heart of Istanbul is Sultanahmet Square, or Hippodrome of Constantinople. Surrounding the famous square are the Hagia Sophia Museum, Blue mosque, and Museum of Turkish Islamic Arts. This makes it one of the most popular tourist places in the city. The square dates back to the Byzantine Empire in the 4th century. While in the square, be sure to see the famous trio, the Serpentine Column, Egyptian Obelisk, and Colossus.
The Blue Mosque is an active place of worship but is free for tourists to visit. Take the 45-minute guided tour and learn about the history of the city’s oldest buildings. Construction on the mosque took place between 1609 and 1616. It gets its name from the more than 20,000 blue and white flower-shaped tiles that cover the upper part of the walls and dome.
One of the most beautiful parks in the city is Gulhane Park. It has gone through several renewals, each time adding more features. Today, the park has winding paths, a creek, manicured gardens, and a science museum. If you visit Istanbul in April, the park is a must-see site. The Istanbul Tulip Festival takes place each year in the park. The festival is free to attend and features 120 different types of blooms. There are several cafes throughout the park, so take a seat and enjoy a refreshment while you are there.
The Hagia Sophia is one of the most impressive structures in the world. Standing for over 1,500 years, this church/cathedral-turned-mosque is truly a site to behold. Over three million visitors make their way through the Hagia Sophia each year. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with breathtaking art at every turn. Start your visit by walking around the outside first. Then make your way inside, starting with the first floor and then up to the second floor. The second floor gives you a better view of the gold ceiling.
Istanbul is a city rich in history and culture. Some of the world’s oldest and most beautiful buildings are in the heart of the city. What makes Istanbul so unique is the people’s ability to incorporate these ancient wonders into their daily lives. It brings a unique energy and liveliness to the city, making it a charming place to visit.