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Istanbul is a city deeply rooted in cultural heritage and rich history. The Ottoman Empire once ruled it, making it a center of Islamic civilization for Muslims in the past. The city is a popular destination for Muslim travelers around the world. As a Muslim traveler, you’ll need to know the top things to do in Istanbul.

That will help you to schedule your time efficiently and create a perfect work & play balance. 

There are numerous activities to engage in. The city is known for renowned buildings, markets, and fantastic tourist centers you want to visit. Check out this article for the top ten things to do in Istanbul, Turkey.

1. Bask in the magical sunsets.

One of the things to do in Istanbul, Turkey, is to enjoy the magical sunsets. You can enjoy this perfectly by visiting the Galata Tower or Ulus Parki for the best views. The Galata Tower was built as a watchtower and is a fantastic photo spot. Going to this tower will help you enjoy the sunset, and you can explore the surrounding scenery while at it.

2. Explore the history behind Hagia Sophia.

With the finest marble and mosaics, Hagia Sophia remains one of the best tourist centers in Istanbul. Exploring its rich history is definitely one of the things to do in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia was initially built as a church by Constantine I before it was rebuilt into a mosque.

The mosque depicts its Byzantine and Ottoman architectural features. Before it was converted into a mosque, it served as the center of Eastern Orthodox for about 1000 years.  

It now functions as a museum that shows Christian and Islamic heritage. Visitors can admire the gold cubes around the building, the minarets, calligraphy, and other architectural wonders around Hagia Sophia.

3. Discover the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

As the last museum opened during the Ottoman era, The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts stands out. The museum is a fusion of the Turkish and Islamic heritage that’s seen in the fantastic artifacts present in the building. As a halal traveler in Istanbul, you can visit this museum.

Seek the story behind its existence, check out the collection of Quranic antiques from way back, and familiarize yourself more with the beauty of Islam. Also, the museum houses over 40,000 arts and artifacts representing Islamic civilization worldwide. You’d have a swell time checking through them!

4. Visit the Iconic Blue Mosque

The blue mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque, was built between 1609 and 1616—under Sultan Ahmed I. The mosque is quite famous for its importance to the Ottoman Empire and Istanbul. It’s next to Hagia Sophia, and because it’s built around the former Byzantine palace, it exudes much authority. The building has stood for over 400 years, exerting Ottoman dominance over the previous Byzantine area. It also depicts the Ottoman’s successor over the Byzantine rule in Istanbul.

With over 20,000 blue tiles and blue paint around the mosque’s walls, it’s a fantastic sight. You don’t want to miss that. You can visit the mosque, pray, shop at the market around the mosque, and also visit the Sultan Ahmed tomb.

5. Tour around the Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace will give you a fascinating glimpse into the lives and riches of the former Ottoman sultans. The palace was their home and court for about four centuries before they moved to the Dolmabahce Palace on the Bosphorus.

The palace sprawls over 69 acres, consisting of courtyards, gardens, and different buildings. One of the things to do in Istanbul is visiting the Topkapi Palace. Discover the fusion of the European, ottoman, and Islamic architectural styles, see the harem, which can contain about 300 concubines, and explore the holy relics preserved in the palace.

6. Observe Solah at the Suleymaniye Masjid

The mosque was designed to stand as an architectural masterpiece. It is one of the largest mosques in Istanbul and features fascinating domes, eye-catching calligraphy, and sturdy minarets. A serene mosque helps you connect to your creator and invigorate your spiritual beliefs. This activity will also give you a panoramic view of the city.

Interestingly, the prayer hall is spacious and decorated with pretty decorations that showcase Islamic artistry at its best. Also, you can visit other areas around the mosque complex, like the courtyards, libraries, and tombs, to familiarize yourself more with Ottoman history.

7. Eat Halal Turkish meals.

Another thing to add to your list of top things to do in Istanbul, Turkey, is to indulge in the local Turkish dishes. You can add kebabs, mezes, and other delicious desserts. A must-taste is the Turkish Delights. It’s a traditional sweet treat made from sugar, flavorings, and cornstarch.

They’re soft and chewy and come in various colors and shapes—filled with nuts and dried fruits. They’re also available in pomegranate, rosewater, mint, cinnamon, etc. The Turkish delights have existed for centuries and will be great souvenirs for friends and families.

8. Learn about the Ottoman history.

Istanbul is a city with a rich history. Learning about the Ottoman will give you a deep insight into the past and present condition of the town. The Ottomans ruled for centuries, leaving different cultural and architectural relics still present today. The Topkapi Palace is an excellent place to start learning about Ottoman rule. You can visit the libraries and find materials that can take you as far back as you desire. 

Landmarks like the Galata Tower, Suleymaniye mosque, and Hagia Sopha will tell you more about the Ottoman’s history and their impact on Istanbul

9. Shop at the local markets

Shopping at the local market is one of the things to do in Istanbul. Besides the fantastic waters, you get to connect more with the locals and get a unique glimpse into how the Turkish works. With a rich history in trade and commerce, Istanbul has bustling markets filled with sellers selling everything you might require—from colorful clothes to herbs, spices, and other services.

 A must-visit market is the Grand Bazaar market located around Beyazıt, Kalpakçılar, Istanbul. The market sprawls over 60 acres with several shops, which will take more than one day to explore. You can visit the market with your family for the best experience

10. Attend Friday Prayer at a mosque.

Friday’s prayers are like mini-Eids, so the feeling you get on Fridays differs from what you get on regular days. Praying at a local mosque on a Friday will provide a deep insight into the Islamic traditions and heritage of the city. Various mosques offer the Friday prayers, but their historical significance differs. You can attend the blue mosque, which hosts thousands of Muslims weekly. However, you must ensure to dress modestly before entering the mosque.

 Nonetheless, attending Friday prayers at a local mosque offers a chance to witness firsthand how religion plays an integral role in Turkish society while learning about its rich history and cultural significance.

Bottom Line

Istanbul is a city of beauty, religion, and tradition. It connects Muslim travelers to their Islamic heritage and roots. It gives a particular understanding of Islam and showcases the architectural artistry of our religion. As a halal traveler, you’ll need to know the top things to do in Istanbul.

Fortunately, we compiled the best list of activities in this article. Activities like learning about the Ottoman’s history and visiting the Ottoman Palace and the Grand Market dated as far back as the 15th century. There are more in this write-up, so check it out and have a wonderful time exploring Istanbul!