Istanbul is a city of hills and rooftops, many of which afford visitors amazing views of the city. With its mosques, minarets, bridges and blend of architectural styles, Istanbul vistas make for beautiful photographs and incredible memories. Here are some places where you can get the best views of the city from a variety of perspectives.
Istanbul is also a city of waterways, and one of the best ways to experience it is from a boat on the Bosphorus. You can take half or full day cruises of the Bosphorus, which give you a good sense of Istanbul's geography, including the Golden Horn and the European and Asian sides of the city.
The views from the water are breathtaking and panoramic. Our concierge at Hotel Büyük Keban can make all the arrangements for you, including transportation to the dock, so all you have to do is show up and enjoy yourself.
One of the sights you may spot on your cruise is the Maiden's Tower on a tiny island in the middle of the Marmara Sea close to the Asian side of the city.
History books report that the tower was built by the Athenian General Aclibiades in 408 B.C., but a popular legend says that a Sultan built it to protect his daughter from a snakebite that was prophesied for her 18th birthday.
The Maiden's Tower is now a cafe and museum by day and a restaurant with live music by night, and the views there a spectacular any time you visit.
The Süleymaniye Mosque
The north side of the courtyard of the Süleymaniye Mosque is a lesser known spot for stunning views of Istanbul. This mosque is in the Old City and has a commanding view of the Bosphorus over the Galata Bridge.
We definitely recommend a tour of the Topkapi Palace when you travel to Istanbul. A bonus, in addition to the sumptuous palace interior, is the expansive view from this location.
One of the best views is in the rear in the fourth courtyard, where you can snap a photo under the Iftariye Pavilion, the spot where the sultan would enjoy his iftar meal to break his Ramadan fast. Views from the Harem are also wonderful.
Istanbul Wharfs For a different type of view and a feel for typical Istanbul life, try one of Istanbul's waterside locations for a photo opportunity and relaxing vista.
The Ortaköy wharf, which is near the Bosphorus Bridge, has numerous cafes and trendy nightlife after dark.
The wharf at Karaköy is another favorite spot to linger, while the Üsküdar ferry and boat station provides a nice look at the Old City from the Asian side of Istanbul.
Galata Bridge While the Karaköy wharf area features cafes and scenic fisherman stalls under the Galata Bridge, the Bridge itself is also a perfect place for a view of Istanbul.
Try stopping on the bridge at sunset or just after dusk when all the lights of the Old City begin to glow.
A little further north from the Galata Bridge lies the Galata Tower, a must-see for a 360-degree vista at the top.
Built by the Genoese in 1348, the tower has a cafe at the upper level and an observation platform that is ideal for photographs.
There is a charge for admission, but visitors rave that it is well worth it. An escalator takes visitors up seven stories, and the last two levels are accessed by stairs.
There are many bars in Istanbul that have beautiful views of the city too. Why not enjoy a refreshment or cocktail while taking in the sights from above, which are particularly photogenic at sunset. Ask our concierge about the best places to sip a beverage while enjoying the view.
Many people ask if climbing one of Istanbul's many minarets is possible for the views they afford. Unfortunately, permission to enter the upper levels of the minarets is rarely granted, but this timelapse photography film project was able to get a special exception to shoot a short photomontage of Istanbul from the minarets. Let this be your inspiration to find some of the best views of the city yourself.
Contact Hotel Büyük Keban today to make your reservation for a stay in Istanbul. Not only will you find stellar service and immaculate, modern lodging full of amenities, but we can assist you with any arrangements you need to see the most breathtaking views of Istanbul while you're here.