Unveiling the Ultimate Guide: 21 Must-Visit Instagram Spots in Istanbul for Stunning Photos

Heading to Istanbul anytime soon? You will be delighted to know that this historical city is breathtakingly pretty and as a result, the photos turn out amazing. (Yes, it is 2024, and everyone loves clicking pictures with their smartphones for Instagram).

Istanbul is built on seven hills and as a result, there are multiple viewpoints and stunning photo opportunities (just like Lisbon). Moreover, the backdrop of imperial mosques all over the city, especially along the water and on top of the hills results in a breathtaking cityscape.

A Random Pretty Street in Istanbul
A Random Pretty Street in Istanbul

Waterbodies like the Bosphorus Strait and the Golden Horn make the images even better. Bonus points for cats, because Istanbul has many of them and they turn a normal picture into an extraordinary one.

The magical city of Istanbul is where history, culture, and beauty collide. If you’re a travel enthusiast or an Instagram addict, you’re in for a treat. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a virtual tour of some of the absolute best Instagram spots in Istanbul. From historic landmarks to hidden gems, prepare to capture the essence of this mesmerizing city in every frame.

For your convenience, I have included Google Map links at the end of each point so that you can mark them on your map and download an offline version before your trip to Istanbul.

1) Hagia Sophia: Where History Meets Elegance

Hagia Sophia - 3 days in Istanbul Itinerary
Hagia Sophia – 3 days in Istanbul Itinerary

Our journey begins with the iconic Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has stood the test of time. Hagia Sophia is in Sultanahmet Square, a place where you will find some of the most Instagrammable places in Istanbul. Yes, Sultan Ahmet Square is touristy, but it is worth it.

Hagia Sofia in Istanbul - Top Instagram Spots
Hagia Sofia in Istanbul – Top Instagram Spots

Marvel at the grandeur of its architecture, capturing the intricate details of its domes and the interplay of light within its sacred walls. Hagia Sophia is a timeless backdrop for your Istanbul Instagram feed.

Yes this is perhaps the most photographed mosque of Istanbul but is worth the hype. I did mention it as the first spot in my 3-day Istanbul itinerary and also my 10-day Turkey itinerary.

Fun fact: Originally Hagia Sofia was built as a cathedral in 537 AD during the Byzantine era. It was converted into an imperial mosque under the Ottomans. It also functioned as a museum for a few years but as of 2023, it is again a mosque.

Click here for Google Maps location.

2) Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque): A Serene Masterpiece

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul's Sultan Ahmet Mosque
Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul’s Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Adjacent to Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque enchants with its six minarets and a sea of blue tiles. Visit during the golden hour to witness the mosque bathed in a soft, golden glow. Frame the mosque against the canvas of the sky for ethereal Istanbul Instagram photos.

You can’t go inside the mosque during the prayer time but enjoy the stunning courtyard where you will click some of the most interesting photos. If you do get a chance to go inside, you will see a lovely blue tilework on the ceiling and low-hanging lamps.

Inside the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the Blue Mosque) in Istanbul
Inside the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the Blue Mosque) in Istanbul

For a unique perspective, click a selfie with the backdrop of the blue ceiling behind you. I tried but I had a bad camera but I’m sure you will do a better job.

Be mindful of what you wear because you’re entering a religious building. Cover your legs, shoulders, and stomach before you enter any mosque.

Click here for Google Maps location.

3) Istiklal Avenue (+Red Tram): Bustling Street Life

Taksim Square and Istiklal Street
Taksim Square and Istiklal Street

I have a thing for lively streets and for me, Istanbul’s Istiklal Street checked all the boxes. It is right next to Taksim Square, which is like the Istanbul city center.

Experience the vibrant energy of Istanbul on Istiklal Avenue, the city’s bustling pedestrian street. Document the eclectic street life, from historic tram rides to street performers. Bonus points if you can also capture the vintage red tram as it moves at a slow pace on Istiklal Street.

You will also see many street food carts and baklava shops. The backdrop of the Taksim Mosque adds a nice touch. The avenue’s dynamic atmosphere provides endless opportunities for candid and lively Instagram shots.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates.

4) CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel: Room with a View

Sunset view from my bed in CVK Park Bosphorous, Istanbul
Sunset view from my bed in CVK Park Bosphorus, Istanbul

Imagine watching the most amazing sunrise from your bedroom without having to get out of your bed or get ready early in the morning to run to a nice spot. Yes, it is possible!

I stayed at CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel and I was pleasantly surprised when I pressed a button near my bed to open the shutters and saw the sunrise with an amazing view of the Bosphorus. You see, I didn’t even have to get out of bed to open the shutters.

I was alone here and I had a conference to attend for two days, so I could only manage a few quick pictures but imagine if you have a tripod and if you are here with your partner, you can end up clicking the most amazing “in bed” pictures with the view.

Bathtub with a view at CVK Park Bosphorus Istanbul
Bathtub with a view at CVK Park Bosphorus Istanbul

Bonus: even the bathtub has a view and you can sit in the tub with warm bubbly water and enjoy the view.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates.

5) Feshane Artİstanbul Library: Booklover’s Paradise

I have a thing for stunning bookstores and libraries and the one at Feshane Artİstanbul didn’t disappoint. Feshane was the first textile industry establishment in Turkey, but the building was transformed into a contemporary handicraft museum in 1992. Sadly it unusable due to the rise of the waters on the Golden Horn side

Eyüp Feshane Library - Istanbul Instagram Spots
Feshane Artİstanbul Library – Istanbul Instagram Spots

After the 1998 restoration, the building was revived and has been transformed into a space that can be used for all kinds of organizations, meetings, seminars, concerts, galas, parties, exhibitions, and cultural events. I also attended a press event for influencers that was hosted by the Mayor of Istanbul here and I was awarded the title of Istanbul Tourism Ambassador.

Our spot of interest is a library inside that looks super pretty because of the old walls and the stark contrast of new bookshelves with loads of books. Honestly, this is like a hidden gem and still under the radar because the posts for most Instagrammable spots never mention this place.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates.

6) View from Bosphorus Bridge

The Stunning Landscape of Istanbul
The Stunning Landscape of Istanbul

There aren’t many bridges in the world that connect continents but the Bosphorus bridge is one of them. Imagine if you cross the bridge and you move from Europe to Asia or vice versa in just minutes.

But the thing is, this isn’t an easy picture to capture because of the horrible traffic situation in Istanbul. If you are crossing this bridge in a car, then forget about even clicking this picture. Even from a normal bus, you won’t manage a good shot, I didn’t also the first time I visited.

The only way I was able to click pictures from Bosphorus Bridge was because we were on top of a bus, on a “Busforus” bus tour. Honestly, I normally hate bus tours but Istanbul is the city to do it because of the traffic situation and you get to sit on top of the bus and see many landmarks all over the city.

View from Bosphorus Bridge
View from Bosphorus Bridge

Another option would be to arrive here on your own by public transport and walk on the bridge. It has a pedestrian lane on each side but the situation does get chaotic due to the traffic.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates.

7) Topkapi Palace Courtyard: Regal Grandeur Unleashed

View from Topkapi Palace courtyard in Istanbul
View from Topkapi Palace courtyard in Istanbul

Step into the world of Ottoman royalty at Topkapi Palace. The sprawling complex offers a visual feast of opulent courtyards and lush gardens. Explore the palace’s chambers, capturing the richness of its history and the grandeur of its architecture. Topkapi Palace is a regal setting for your Instagram storytelling.

Pro tip: One of the best photo spots inside Topkapi Palace is from one of its courtyards because you can see the Golden Horn, the Marmara Sea, and Galata Tower on the other side. The entry fee for Topkapı Palace in 2024 is 750 Turkish Lira per person.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates.

8) Galata Tower: Panoramic Views of Istanbul

Galata Tower in Istanbul
Galata Tower in Istanbul

For a panoramic perspective of Istanbul, ascend the historic Galata Tower. Capture the city’s skyline against the changing hues of the sky during sunset. The 360-degree views from the tower make it a prime spot for showcasing the blend of old and new in Istanbul.

View from top of Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkey
View from the top of Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkey – CC0 via Pixabay

Galata Tower has 9 floors and the lifts will take you to the 7th floor. You have to climb up two floors yourself. It is worth the time and effort. If you visit in the summer months, there is a queue of people waiting to get on top during the prime golden hours like sunrise and sunset.

The entry for Galata Tower closes at 8 pm and the entrance fee is 650 Turkish Liras per person.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates.

9) Galata Bridge: Iconic Water Crossing

Galata Bridge with locals fishing
Galata Bridge with locals fishing

Galata Bridge deserves a spot in your Instagram arsenal. Whether it’s the bustling street life, the views of the Golden Horn, or the iconic structure itself, this bridge provides ample opportunities for stunning shots. Visit during sunrise or sunset for a magical atmosphere.

Galata Bridge is less about the views for me but more about the culture because you will see hundreds of locals who gather here for fishing.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates.

10) Eminönü: Bustling Waterfront Hub

Istanbul Cityscape clicked from Eminönü during sunset
Istanbul Cityscape clicked from Eminönü during sunset via Unsplash

Some of the most popular pictures of Istanbul were clicked right from Eminönü. It is a waterfront area and on the other side are old buildings specifically Galata Tower and mosques with high minarets.

Eminonu, with its lively waterfront, historic landmarks, and vibrant street markets, is a visual feast. There are loads of waterfront eateries and many of them are pickle shops where you can try the Turkish legendary Pickle Juice (which I mentioned in my Istanbul food tour post).

Pickle Shops in Eminönü, Istanbul
Pickle Shops in Eminönü, Istanbul

Capture the energy of the ferries, the silhouette of the New Mosque, and the lively atmosphere of the numerous shops. This dynamic area will add diversity to your Istanbul story.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates.

11) Basilica Cistern: Subterranean Marvel

Inside basilica Cistern in Istanbul
Inside Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

Now, let’s shine a light on the mysterious Basilica Cistern. It is a unique spot made famous by Dan Brown’s book Inferno, and later the movie. It is the largest surviving cistern from the Byzantine times and is beneath Istanbul city.

I visited Istanbul during the leaner tourism month of November in 2023 and saw a long line outside Basilica Cistern. I highly suggest you buy a skip-the-line entrance ticket so that you don’t waste your time waiting.

Basilica Cistern in Istanbul
Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

With its mesmerizing columns and the famous Medusa heads, it’s a unique spot that adds a touch of mystique to your Instagram feed. Play with shadows and reflections to capture its enigmatic beauty.

When I visited Basilica Cistern, I noticed that they change the lighting inside every few minutes so you can capture different kinds of shots at the same spot. I understand that it would be a nightmare for those who carry around DSLRs because they would have to keep changing the setting.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates.

12) Bosphorus Cruise: Sail into Instagrammable Beauty

Sunset cruise over Bosphorous, Istanbul itinerary
Sunset cruise over Bosphorus, Istanbul itinerary

One of the ways to find loads of amazing photo opportunities is by embarking on a Bosphorus cruise during sunset time. This way, you have a unique vantage point of Istanbul’s beauty.

Capture the cityscape along the waterfront, with iconic landmarks lining the shores. The gentle waves of the Bosphorus create a picturesque backdrop for your Instagram feed, telling the story of Istanbul’s timeless charm.

I have shortlisted a few tours for you

I did a tour that lasted 2 hours and I clicked lots of photos. It did have a running commentary, which I didn’t listen to. It got very cold right after sunset so I suggest you carry a jacket even during the summer months.

I haven’t mentioned any Google Maps location link here because all these tours have meeting points that are mentioned separately in the tour description.

13) Grand Bazaar & Spice Market: A Kaleidoscope of Colors and Culture

Grand Bazaar Istanbul
Grand Bazaar Istanbul

Do you have a thing for local markets to understand the local culture? I have good news for you: Istanbul has some of the world’s oldest and most interesting bazaars.

Dive into the vibrant tapestry of the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s most renowned markets. The bustling alleys, adorned with colorful textiles and spices, provide endless photo opportunities. Some of the best-performing photos of the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul were the ones that were clicked outside lamp shops.

Egyptian Spice Bazaar in Istanbul
Egyptian Spice Bazaar in Istanbul

Document the market’s energy and capture candid moments to add authenticity to your Instagram collection.

Don’t miss the nearby Egyptian Bazaar or the Spice Bazaar. I liked it much more than the Grand Bazaar because of its arched ceilings, pillars, and slightly less chaotic vibes. You will find many shops selling not just spices but also aromatic teas, coffee, and Turkish delight among other things.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates for Grand Bazaar.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates for the Egyptian Bazaar.

14) Balat: Colorful Houses, Umbrellas, Rainbow Stairs

Colorful houses of Balat - Istanbul photo spots
Colorful houses of Balat – Istanbul photo spots via Unsplash

Venture into the heart of Istanbul’s historic Balat district, a treasure trove of colorful houses and narrow streets. The famous rainbow stairs serve as a whimsical backdrop for your Instagram photos.

One of Balat’s distinctive features is its colorful houses. Narrow cobbled streets are lined with homes painted in a myriad of hues, creating a picturesque and lively atmosphere. The vibrant colors add a unique charm to the neighborhood, making it a popular destination for photographers and visitors seeking an authentic Istanbul experience.

Balat also has an “umbrella street”. Dimitrie Cantemir Museum Café on Sancaktar Yokuşu Sokak has a colorful courtyard with umbrellas that’s now a famous photo spot.

In recent years, Balat has also become a canvas for street artists. Colorful murals and street art can be found adorning walls, adding a contemporary touch to the neighborhood’s historic backdrop. These art installations contribute to the area’s eclectic and bohemian ambiance.

The neighborhood has embraced its artistic side, with many establishments showcasing local art and crafts. Explore the street art and capture the eclectic spirit of this vibrant neighborhood.

Click here for Google Maps Coordinates for Colorful Houses of Balat.

15) Ortakoy Mosque: Elegance by the Bosphorus

Ortaköy Mosque in İstanbul, Türkiye
Ortaköy Mosque in İstanbul, Türkiye via Unsplash

Ortakoy Mosque, gracefully perched on the shores of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, is a visual masterpiece that seamlessly blends Ottoman and Baroque architectural styles.

Constructed in the 19th century, this waterfront gem stands as an elegant testament to Istanbul’s rich cultural heritage. With its intricate details, cascading domes, and a stunning view of the Bosphorus Bridge, Ortakoy Mosque exudes timeless beauty.

The mosque is not only a symbol of religious significance but also a picturesque landmark that captivates both locals and visitors, inviting them to appreciate its harmonious blend of tradition and splendor.

Capture the mosque’s elegance against the backdrop of the Bosphorus Bridge, especially during the evening when the lights transform the scene into pure magic.

Click Here for the Google Maps Coordinates.

16) Suleymaniye Mosque: Majestic Ottoman Architecture

the view from Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul
the view from Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul

Explore the grandeur of Süleymaniye Mosque, an architectural masterpiece dominating Istanbul’s skyline. The mosque’s domes and minarets create a stunning silhouette, especially against the canvas of a clear blue sky.

With most of the tourists visiting the Blue Mosque or Hagia Sophia, Süleymaniye Mosque somehow maintains its low-key charm and some say that it is the most beautiful mosque in Istanbul.

The best view of the Süleymaniye mosque is from the Bridge near it. Also, this mosque is a bit higher up so prepare to climb up the steps. The view from Süleymaniye mosque is worth all the effort.

Süleymaniye Mosque is close to the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar, so you can combine the visit to all these places together. Visit during different times of the day to capture the changing light.

Click Here for the Google Maps Coordinates.

17) Maiden’s Tower: A Fairytale Setting

Salacak, Maiden's Tower, Üsküdar Salacak Mevkii, Üsküdar:İstanbul, Türkiye
Salacak, Maiden’s Tower, Üsküdar Salacak Mevkii, Üsküdar:İstanbul, Türkiye via Unsplash

Istanbul’s Maiden’s Tower, rising gracefully from the Bosphorus on its own islet, is an iconic subject for photographers. Steeped in legend and history, its silhouette against the vibrant cityscape or the golden hues of a sunset creates an enchanting scene.

The tower’s architectural details, illuminated in the evening, add a touch of mystique, while its reflection in the water enhances the visual allure. Whether capturing the tower in daylight against the blue waters or during the atmospheric glow of night, Maiden’s Tower offers a timeless and captivating photographic subject, encapsulating the romantic essence of Istanbul.

Whether viewed from the European or Asian side, the tower offers enchanting photo opportunities. Experiment with framing to capture the tower against the cityscape or the serene waters.

Now this is one sight that you will enjoy from your Bosphorus cruise. That’s why I am not sharing any Google Maps location since it is in the middle of the water.

18) Camlica Hill: Skyline Spectacle

View from the Camlica Mosque on Çamlıca Hill
View from the Camlica Mosque via Unsplash

For a panoramic view of Istanbul’s sprawling skyline, head to Camlica Hill. The highest point in the city provides a breathtaking backdrop for your Instagram photos. Capture the city below during different times of the day, showcasing the dynamic beauty of Istanbul.

Camlica Mosque is also an interesting spot for you to see if you are on Camlica Hill. Note that the mosque is not on top of the Camlica Hill.

The stunning Çamlıca Mosque on Camilca Hill in Istanbul
The stunning Çamlıca Mosque on Camilca Hill in Istanbul

Camlica Hill is a panoramic masterpiece, providing an unrivaled view of Istanbul’s iconic skyline, the Bosphorus, and historic landmarks. The changing hues of the sky at sunrise and sunset transform the scene into a canvas of warm tones, making it a prime location for capturing the city’s magical moments.

The hill’s expansive green spaces, paired with the city’s architectural wonders, create an ever-evolving visual spectacle. Photographing Camlica Hill means immortalizing the dynamic beauty of Istanbul from an elevated perspective, promising timeless and awe-inspiring images.

Click Here for Google Maps Location.

19) Mağlova Aqueduct: Ottoman Marvel in Kemerburgaz Forest

Mağlova Su Kemeri - Malov Aquaduct, Istanbul
Mağlova Su Kemeri – Malov Aquaduct, Istanbul

Mağlova Aqueduct is a historical gem that many don’t end up visiting. It is an Ottoman aqueduct bridge dating back to 1563. Turkish Airlines calls it a tranquil masterpiece. It is named Malov Aquaduct or Mağlova Su Kemeri on Google Maps.

The Mağlova Aqueduct is on top of the Alibey River and is within the borders of Sultangazi. This aqueduct is 257 meters long and 36 meters high and is still functional. It carries clean water to Istanbul even today.

Kemerburgaz City Forest and Maglova Aquaduct
Kemerburgaz City Forest and Maglova Aquaduct

I have to admit that it isn’t easy to get here on public transport but if you have a rented car or can hire a taxi, you have to go towards Kemerburgaz City Forest. You can combine this visit with a bit of hiking for 45 minutes from the parking. Alternatively, you can drive directly up to the spot from where you can see the aqueduct, the river, and the hills.

Click Here for the Google Maps location for Maglova Aquaduct.

20) Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul
Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul

Nestled along the sparkling shores of the Bosphorus, Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace stands as a testament to opulence and architectural splendor. This majestic palace, built in the mid-19th century, served as the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire during its later years.

Adorned with a harmonious blend of European and Ottoman design, Dolmabahce Palace is a marvel of crystal chandeliers, grand staircases, and ornate furnishings that reflect the empire’s transition into a modern era.

If you booked the “Busforus” bus tour, then you will be happy to know that the Dolmabahçe Palace is one of the stops.

Visitors are greeted by the resplendent Ceremonial Hall, boasting the largest Bohemian crystal chandelier in the world. The palace’s sprawling gardens and the Clock Tower add to its allure, offering a tranquil escape with breathtaking views of the Bosphorus.

As you wander through the halls that once hosted statesmen and royalty, Dolmabahçe Palace invites you to step back in time and immerse yourself in the regal legacy of Istanbul.

Click Here for the Google Maps Location.

21) Restaurant with a View: Istanbul has Many

Oligark Restaurant with a view
Oligark Restaurant with a view

Let’s face it, you won’t spend all your time going to every single one of the historical landmarks or viewpoints that I have mentioned on this list, but you will surely at some point go out to eat. Why not make it a visual treat?

I went to Oligark İstanbul, which is along the Bosphorus Strait and we had a full view of the water and the city on three sides because of the glass walls.

Click here for Google Maps coordinates for Oligark.

Another amazing place that one of my friends visited is Henna Hotel Istanbul, with a rooftop restaurant that has a view of the Bosphorus and it is right there in Sultanahmet Square.

Honestly, Istanbul doesn’t have a shortage of restaurants and cafes with a view. I found a list of the top 10 Istanbul restaurants with a view on Tripadvisor, be sure to check it out. Some of them blew up on social media and it takes a while to get a place so those aren’t worth it. I recommend checking out the reviews on not only TripAdvisor but also Google Maps to get the latest information.

Final Thoughts on Istanbul Instagram Spots:

Congratulations! You’ve just explored the crème de la crème of Instagram spots in Istanbul. From ancient landmarks to contemporary art spaces, each location offers a unique perspective on this captivating city.

I know it sounds counterproductive but don’t focus all your energy only on the spots that are mentioned here but go find some more interesting spots of your own. Find cozy cafes, bustling streets, and interesting perspectives. Or just follow the stray cats of Istanbul.

As you embark on your Instagram journey, remember to capture the spirit and diversity of Istanbul, and share the magic with your followers. Happy snapping!

Disclosure: My trip to Istanbul was sponsored as a part of the Istanbul Travel Influencer Summit 2023. However, all the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.  We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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