Top Things To Do & Avoid In Istanbul: Is it Worth It? [2021 Review]

Mousumi Gharami
Mousumi Gharami
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Top Things To Do & Avoid In Istanbul: Is it Worth It? [2021 Review]

Updated on: 
April 3, 2021
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They say find your existence in the heartbeats of the world, for the world  is your only abode. The statement holds true for the seekers and wanderers who find solace in getting lost in unknown territories. Whether its at a world famous destination or a unknown neighborhood, Pilot's got all the info on the best places to visit or the amazing locations to stay.

If you spot yourself as one such bohemian soul, then the Turquoise dreamland is your game!

Istanbul is much more than just a travel destination. It lies as the thread between the ethnic cultures of the east and the wild world of the west. It stands as the cradle of civilization, tradition, and history, all merging together. From the Turkish blue coasts to the sky-kissed urban high-rises, Istanbul walks its own unique boulevard of civilization and fusion. 

Sunsetting in Istanbul Turkey

Is Istanbul Worth Visiting?

If we think of a “paradox,” then Istanbul fits the box. It’s that beautiful yet quirky room that houses trends and traditions together in perfect harmony. Where else do you find girls with hijabs sharing the same pavilion with European chaps with tattoos and dreadlocks? Besides, you cannot simply keep your eyes off the enigmatic stares of the sapphire eyes that sneak through the veils.

So, is Istanbul worth visiting? Definitely, yes! Especially if you’re a history enthusiast, Istanbul screams timeless history from every nook and corner. The banks of the mighty Bosporus have witnessed civilizations evolve and wither in the quicksand of time. 

It’s, however, the most populous city in the whole European domain, but you never find Istanbul crowded. You walk through the most urbanized marketplace while hearing the wild chants from mosques reverberating through the horizon. Hence, Istanbul must have a place on your travel bucket list.

Riverside view of sun setting over Istanbul Turkey

Can You Travel to Istanbul in 2021?

However, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turkey government decided on a set of mandates to follow. The guidelines apply to travelers and tourists. In coordination with the Ministry of Health, you must meet the following criteria and restrictions before boarding a flight to Istanbul. 

Best Things to Do in Istanbul

Well, planning is fine, but often we get stuck at things to do in Istanbul! The dilemma is legit when you have plenty of choices. But you must start by picking up activities that give you a hint of their lifestyle. Explore the wild corners, walk the less-crowded alleys. Here, we list out some of the best things to do in Istanbul.

Visit Hagia Sophia

Outside view of Hagia Sophia

For more than 900 years, it served as the throne of the Constantinople Empire. Formed in 537 AD as an orthodox cathedral, it turned into a mosque during the Ottomans. The epitome of profound art and tradition, this wonderful creation stands as the epitome of patriarchy to this day.

See Topkapi Palace

View of Topkapi Palace

It served as the official administrative corner during the Ottoman civilization. Amidst the endless spread of green courtyards lies the ‘Harem,’ the dwelling zone for mothers and wives of sultans. The greens turn all colorful with tulips and hyacinths during the spring. The ethereal artworks on the walls speak volumes about the rich heritage of Istanbul.

Walk Down to Cisterna Basilica

Sure, you have to scratch the surface and peep down underneath to behold this wonder. The basilica is yet another Byzantine creation dating way back to the 3rd century. The spectacular piece where science meets history was an underground cistern that brought water from distant lands of Bulgaria. 

Walk Up to Galata Tower

sunset view of Galata Tower Istanbul

Walk up the stairs of history and meet the 14th-century fire tower that also served as a prison. The 60-meter-high stony tower gives you the exquisite skyline of Istanbul. 

Shop at Grand Bazar

Shop till you drop at this 500-year-old bazaar that still holds its glory with over 5000 shops and several eateries. One of the best places to get the fusion vibe of Istanbul, this place certainly tests your bargaining skills.

Cruise Across Bosphorus

Cruising across the mighty Bosphorus River gives you the ultimate sense of fusion. You turn your head and behold two different continents thriving with their own culture and lifestyle across the shorelines.

Stroll around Neighborhoods

Local neighborhoods like Taksim, Sultanahmet, Beyoglu, etc., emerged as the avenue to diverse culture, food habits, and lifestyles. Stroll around for a quirky twist to your Istanbul trip.

What should I Avoid in Istanbul?

However, you must keep your senses awake enough to sense the possible mishaps too. Like every other city in the world, Istanbul, too, comes with its own set of drawbacks. So, what should I avoid in Istanbul? Let’s have a look.

  • Avoid staying in close proximity to the sights. The hotel charges are beyond the limit around these areas.
  • Avoid Tarlabasi Street, for that corner is filled with drug peddlers, fraudsters, and anti-socials. It’s not the right place for women at night.
  • Avoid stepping into religious places wearing shorts or western wear. Keep it traditional to avoid controversy.

Is Istanbul Dangerous for Tourists?

The act of terrorism is an open secret already. We all know the unsettling political situation that rugs this beautiful land over and over again. While most Istanbul corners are safe to travel to, you cannot wash off the scary vibe of terrorism from the air. However, scammers and pickpocketing frauds are also somewhat common in Istanbul.

What Are the Dos and Don’ts While in Istanbul?

“Better safe than sorry” is the ultimate mantra to have a lifetime experience in Istanbul. What are the dos and don’ts in Istanbul? Let’s see.


  • Wear moderately traditional clothes and wear a scarf while visiting mosques.
  • Master the art of bargaining.
  • Maintain good manners.
  • At least learn basic Turkish phrases.


  • Avoid heading out alone at night.
  • Don’t get overindulgent in alcohol at the cafes.
  • Don’t shout in a mosque.

Plan Your Trip to Istanbul

Istanbul is here to welcome you with open arms. Despite the trying times of pandemics, the cultural heartland of Turkey stands unparalleled with its authentic diversities. From food to fashion to heritage to hospitality, we bet you’ll feel the scent of uniqueness while tripping around Istanbul. 

However, often sketching out a trip looks a bit messy because oh so many things to check on! Scheduling the dates and locations, booking flights and hotels while checking the wallet, hectic, right? Well, worry no further. Get your travel squad on board and plan on your next trip to Istanbul with Pilot for easy scheduling. We provide easy solutions to trip itineraries as well as crazy offers and newsletters to check out. Give yourself the much-needed break and swing along with the wild tunes of Istanbul with Pilot.

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