If you’re looking for the best Instagram spots around Istanbul, you’ve come to the right place. After two months in the city I feel like I’ve simultaneously discovered so many amazing photos spots and also have barely scratched the surface of this place!
Nonetheless, this is my collection of the 27 best Instagram spots around Istanbul (in no particular order) and some tips on how to visit them. Happy exploring!
1. Refik Saydam Lookout Point
This place isn’t on most lists of Instagram spots around Istanbul but it boasts one of the best views of the city. Lucky for me I lived two minutes away so I got to walk past this lookout point every day!
It’s right near Istiklal Street so when you’re walking down it take a quick detour to this lookout point for a shot and you won’t be disappointed – it’s beautiful in the morning, at sunset, and at night. Put “Rixos Pera Istanbul” into your phone and you’ll see the view right across the street.
2. Topkapi Palace
Cost: 60 lira / 11 usd for the entrance ticket plus 35 lira / 6.50 usd extra for entrance to the Harem
Even after nine weeks in Istanbul, Topkapi Palace is still a highlight. It’s amazing just for the historical significance but it also doesn’t hurt that it’s beautiful as well. The interiors are splashed with colorful mosaic tiles and it’s one of the best examples of Ottoman architecture still here today.
Pay extra to go into the Harem because it’s one of the most intricate and ornate parts of the palace and where you’ll snap the best photos.
3. Basilica Cistern
Cost: 20 lira / 3.50 usd
The Basilica Cistern is famous from movies like Inferno and From Russia With Love. It was built to hold water under the city around 550 AD and rediscovered again 1000 years later. Entrance is cheap and you really only need about 30 minutes to see it all. The main draw here, for me at least, is the photo op – it’s dark, moody, a little creepy and a lot amazing. There’s no doubt that the Basilica Cistern is one of the most unique photo spots around Istanbul.
4. Grand Bazaar
Do I even need to include this on the list? Ever ‘grammer knows that the Grand Bazaar is one of the best Instagram spots around Istanbul. I mean, all my childhood daydreams came true as soon as I stepped inside – it’s like a riot of color and magic.
Definitely, the light shops and the rug shops were my favorites to photograph, just be aware that a lot of the light shops have signs saying no photography – but if you walk around enough you’ll find one without it!
5. Karakoy at Night
Night photographers rejoice, there are so many amazing Instagram spots around Istanbul for you to explore! One of my favorites is Karakoy, the up-and-coming hipster neighborhood famous for its nightlife. Walk down Mumhane and Necatibey streets and the surrounding area for neon signs, sprawling restaurant patios, cobblestone streets, and everything you need to snap that gritty, exciting shot of a gritty, exciting city!
6. Istiklal Street
When I first started blogging I through the perfect picture had to have no people in it, but I’ve since learned to embrace the life that crowds and people can bring to photos. Istiklal Street is a massive pedestrian street in the Beyoglu neighborhood lined with shops and restaurants. It’s always crowded, but that actually adds to the atmosphere. Because I lived nearby I walked up and down Istiklal nearly every day and took tons of photos – this one is probably my favorite though.
7. Ferry to Kadakoy (the Asian side of the city)
Neighborhood: Take the ferry from Eminonu and Besiktas ports
Cost: 3 lira / .50 usd with the IstanbulKart
The Istanbul metro system is pretty cool because it has a ferry line as well. Take the 30-minute ferry from either the Eminonu or the Besiktas ports on the European side to the Kadikoy port on the Asian side. If you go at sunset you can snap gorgeous views of the Istanbul skyline dotted with mosques, and eat dinner at the famous and delicious Ciya Sofrasi restaurant (featured on Chef’s Table) when you arrive.
8. Galata Bridge
Neighborhood: The bridge connects Karakoy and Eminonu
There are 100 different ways to get beautiful Instagram shots at and around the Galata bridge. I snapped the one above from the Eminonu side, where crowds gather every day to buy the famous fresh fish sandwiches from the boats.
There are also fisherman lining the bridge on top (if you’re into photographing people, this is a great place) and a platform in the middle where you can get views of both sides of the riverside – Galata tower on one and an imposing mosque on the other. Go at sunrise or sunset for the best shot, but any time of day offers a great opportunity.
9. Suleymaniye Mosque
The Suleymaniye Mosque is a two-fer when it comes to Instagram spots around Istanbul. The mosque itself is gorgeous and the courtyard is a great place to snap a photo because it’s less crowded than the Blue Mosque. Additionally, the Suleymaniye Mosque is built on a hilltop with a panoramic view across the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, which is totally Insta-worthy as well.
10. Blue Mosque
The interior of the Blue Mosque is so intricate and detailed it’s honestly mesmerizing. It’s painted mostly in soft blues and reds to create a totally serene atmosphere for prayer. Unfortunately, when we went it was under construction (as all famous sites always are) but we still got to see part of the walls and ceilings which was good enough for me. If you can go when the Blue Mosque is completely open, you’re in for a jaw-dropping treat – this may actually be the best Instagram spot in Istanbul.
11. Bebek Waterfront
Bebek is kind of far from the city center but easy to reach on public transportation. If you go on a weekend or at peak times, you may get stuck in traffic, but I think it’s worth the extra hassle. Bebek is a cute little town built along the water which means it has great waterfront views. Go on a sunny morning to get pictures of the fisherman, the massive suspension bridge, the houses crawling up the hillsides, and the Rumeli Fortress for your Instagram.
12. Victorian Homes
Neighborhood: Between Bebek and Ortakoy
I’m not sure if these homes are actually Victorian, but I don’t know how else to describe them. They’re tall and ornate and just sitting in the middle of Istanbul like it ain’t no thang. I was confused when we passed by on our walk from Bebek to Ortakoy but pleased as well.
To get here, put “Sur Balık Restoran Arnavutköy” into your GPS and you’ll see the homes just a few steps down the street from it. They’re on the side of the road so it might be hard to get a nice pic of you in front of them, but they’re still great from the ‘gram regardless.
13. Ortakoy Mosque
This little mosque offers up big photo ops. If you find yourself in Ortakoy step inside to take a photo because the colorful ceiling, chandeliers, and large windows combine to make it a great Instagram spot in Istanbul.
14. Dolmabache Palace
Entrance into Dolmabache Palace isn’t free, but snapping an Instagram pic at the main gates is. I went in and honestly think the main gates are the best part of the palace anyway, so if you’re on a budget feel free to get this picture but skip the tour inside.
15. Turkish Delight
Cost: Free to photograph, a few lira to eat!
I’m on the fence about eating Turkish delight (although I do like the chocolate and nut ones) but definitely enjoy photographing it. Seriously, is any dessert more colorful and whimsical than this? Pop into any shop selling it and I know you’ll be able to snap a great picture while you browse (and you should definitely buy some to try as well). This photo was taken at one of the many dessert shops on Istiklal Street.
16. Turkish Breakfast
Cost: 20 to 35 lira per person
I’m a proud member of the (totally made up) Small Plates Society, which basically means that I love eating lots of small plates of food rather than one big meal. If you’re nodding along, welcome to the group – you’ll love Turkey!
Turkish breakfast usually includes 20+ different types of foods to mix and match like jam, honey, bread, cheese (so much cheese), eggs, fresh veggies, and more. Oh, and unlimited tea of course. The picture above is actually from Izmir but the many Turkish breakfasts that I ate in Istanbul were very similar. The spread is unbelievable and makes for a perfect shot for your Instagram (and a very full stomach).
17. Hagia Sophia
Cost: 60 lira / 11 usd
We’ve got another two-fer here. The Hagia Sophia is one of the most famous sites in Istanbul and every tourist here should make the time to visit. Over the past 1,500 years the Hagia Sophia has been both a church and a mosque, and now it’s a museum. There’s a huge square and gardens outdoors for photos and you can (and should) go inside for pictures of the interior as well.
18. Spice Bazaar
The Spice Bazaar isn’t as exotic and exciting as the Grand Bazaar but if you’re into tea or Turkish delights, you’ll find yourself in heaven. This is the perfect place for close-up and detailed shots of the market stalls for your Instagram followers to enjoy!
19. Stray Dogs and Cats
No city loves its strays more than Istanbul. Because of that, all the dogs are vaccinated, chipped, and fat from the locals feeding them, and the cats are usually pretty cute as well. You’ll see them everywhere. Taking photos of stray animals is my vice (see 16 Dogs Around the World That’ll Definitely Make You Smile) so Istanbul was the perfect place to add a few more to my collection. This lil’ guy is clearly living his best life outside of a rug shop in Sultanahmet.
20. Galata Tower
Cost: 35 lira / 6.50 usd
Another two-fer on my list of Instagram spots around Istanbul. The Galata Tower’s claim to fame is that the first person to try to fly jumped off the top – the keyword here is try, and honestly they never really confirm whether it worked or not…
Anyway, snap a picture from the ground on Buyuk Hendek street or fork up the entrance fee to take in the panoramic view from the top.
21. Salt Galata
I came to the Salt Galata to work one day but it was crowded and super hot inside for some reason. Also, you need a phone number to access the wifi (which I don’t have) so I left, but not before snapping a picture. I love the modern vibe and of course the awesome question mark table. This library/cafe/gallery is free to hang out in and pretty different from all the other Instagram spots around Istanbul on this list, so it’s worth a stop if you’re in the area.
22. Prince Islands
Cost: 5 to 10 lira for a ferry ticket
Trade the crowds of Istanbul for a sunny day at the Prince Islands instead. A quick ferry ride will deliver you into a whole new world of greenery, hiking, and relaxation. The trek to the Aya Yorgi Church viewpoint is a little tough (with great views comes a great climb) but oh-so-worth-it. The islands spread out below our feet and the blue water glistened in the sun, providing a rare opportunity for nature photos near Istanbul.
23. Bursa Clock Tower
These last five Instagram spots can be visited on day or weekend trips from Istanbul so I thought I’d include them in the article, in case you have more time to fill or are feeling a bit adventurous. Dan and I went on a ski trip to Bursa which is a 2-hour ferry ride from Istanbul. The city is full of UNESCO sites but my favorite photo op was the panoramic view from the Nusretiye Clock Tower.
24. Uludag National Park
Did you know that Turkey has the longest cable car in the world? It runs from Bursa to Uludag National park, high in the mountains. The ride is about 45 minutes and as you may guess the views are absolutely phenomenal, especially in the winter. The skiing is a huge draw but it’s also a great place to go hiking and camping in the summer as well.
25. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride, Cappadocia
I know Cappadocia is far from Istanbul but do you know that flights are super cheap? Like, super, super cheap? Dan and I got round trip tickets for only $47 each! Because of that, and because the photos from the sunrise hot air balloon are so gorgeous, I’m including this in my Istanbul Instagram round up and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.
26. Dusk in Goreme, Cappadocia
In addition to the sunrise hot air balloon flight, your should also snap a few photos of the sunset in Goreme, Cappadocia. It’s easy and affordable to reach on a weekend trip from Istanbul and was far and away the highlight of my two-month Turkey trip. So, consider adding it to your itinerary because I promise you will get some of the most magical photos of your life in this unique place!
27. Ephesus Ruins
Last but definitely not least on my list of Instagram spots around Istanbul are the Ephesus Ruins. Just like Cappadocia they require a flight from Istanbul, but just like Cappadocia, the flights are incredibly affordable. We only paid $44 each for the round trip to Izmir. Then, Ephesus is 1.5 hours away by train. The library in this picture is about 2000 years old and some of the ruins are even older. Plus, the house of the Virgin Mary and many other interesting historical places are in the area too. If you’re into history, Ephesus is a must-visit in Turkey, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s photogenic af as well.
Well, there you have it. These are my 27 favorite Instagram spots in and around Istanbul! I hope this guide helps you photograph the city and the surrounding area, plan a few weekend trips, and overall just enjoy your time in this awesome country!
Looking for more? Browse the Turkey Series for more insider info, like 13 things to do at night in Istanbul, my top five reasons to visit Istanbul in the winter, how to take a day trip to the Prince Islands, how to plan a ski getaway to Uludag National Park, and so much more!