5 Cool Local Activities to Do in Istanbul

Most travel publications have detailed articles about activities in Istanbul. They usually include shopping at the historic Grand Bazaar, visiting Ottoman palaces. Istanbul is the only city in the world that overcomes two continents; it reaches from Europe to Asia. The Asian side, also called the Anatolian side, is separated from the European side by the Bosphorus Strait.

You can take a bus over the famous Bosphorus Bridge or pass the ferry. The main attractions of the city are on the European side, but if you’ve never been to Asia. Explore historic buildings, dine in delicious cafés, and see beautiful houses. No matter how many of these attractions fit your first time in Istanbul, you will undoubtedly still be in awe of the city’s majestic architecture and intricate past.

Basilica Cisterns of Istanbul

Basilica Cisterns of Istanbul

The cistern was built in 532 AD by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I to store freshwater for the palace and the nearby buildings. The name Yearbatan Sarayi, or “The Sunken Palace” in Turkish. Is known in English as the “Basilica Cistern” because of its location on the site of an ancient basilica.

As Constantinople was building the cistern, Constantinople was still in the shadow of the devastating Nika revolt that took place in January of the same year. Restorations in the late 1980s dredged up the silted-up floor and added lighting, elevated walkways and a café for visitors. There are still fish in now-shallow water, which helps to keep the water clear.

Get Into A Real Hammam

Get Into A Real Hammam

Many of the chic hotels in Istanbul have hammams, also known as Turkish baths, but they are not the real deal. Genuine Hammams have a Turkish tradition for thousands of years and have served as both a place for cleansing and socializing. Most hammams are separated by gender, and women usually go topless.

They change through several different rooms with different temperatures; one is a hot steam bath similar to a sauna. You can choose to pay a caregiver to give you a thorough exfoliation, and it’s rough but invigorating.

Take A Ferry

Take A Ferry

You pass the Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorus Bridge, beautiful villas, mosques with massive minarets, other castles and palaces and much more. Boats have crossed the waters of the Bosphorus for millennia and until the opening of the first Bosphorus Bridge in 1973.

Several generations of ferries have since served the city and are now powered by fuel-burning engines. In recent decades, the ferries have been partially replaced by the two Bosphorus bridges, the Marmaray railway tunnel, fast catamarans, and water taxis.

Fishing at the Galata Bridge

Fishing at the Galata Bridge

Every day, dozens, if not hundreds, of indigenous males line up along the top level of the Galata Bridge and fish over the edge. They spend hours hoping to catch fresh seafood, and some of them will sell it while they are still out fishing.

There is also a fish market at the foot of the bridge, and the many stalls with freshly caught fish are fun. The Galata Bridge at the entrance of the Gulf of Golden Horn, Istanbul, is famous for many fishing from the bridge.

Hippodrome

Hippodrome

The Hippodrome of Constantinople in Sultanahmet / Istanbul was a public arena, which was mainly accessible for chariot races. The Hippodrome of Constantinople was also home to gladiatorial games, official ceremonies, celebrations, protests, torture for the condemned and so on. The Hippodrome functioned all in Roman (203-330 AD), Byzantine (330-1453 AD) and Ottoman (1453-1922) periods.

The Hippodrome was one of the most famous buildings built by Severus. The first Hippodrome, however, was a small one. In 330 AD, Constantine I declared the city to be the capital of the Byzantine Empire and called it Constantinople.