A photographer's Guide to Istanbul - The only City on two Continents
Follow our Travel Guide to discover the vibrant city of Istanbul. It is the only city in the world that lays on two continents: Europe and Asia. In Istanbul is full of turkish cultural heritage mixed with modern Turkey. Istanbul is a perfect place for Cityscapes and we will show you the places to take the best photos on your trip.
Map of Istanbul:
- Yellow: other attractions
- Red: locations from this post
The Maiden Tower
The Maiden’s Tower (Turkish: Kız Kulesi), also known as Leander’s Tower (Tower of Leandros) , is a tower lying on a small island strait 200 m (220 yds) from the coast .Come here at sunset to watch the cities minarets in front of a red glowing sky. This is a really beautiful experience. Get some tea and snacks while sitting on the seaside.
How to get there: When you come from the European side just take the tramway down to Sirkeci station and take a boat from Eminönü ferry station across the river to Üsküdar (You can also get there from ferry stations Karaköy, Kabatas and Beşiktaş). The boat ride takes about half an hour and then you can walk along the promenade and search for a nice view of the tower and the city on the other side.
View from The Galata Tower
This is a very popular attraction in Istanbul and it really is worth a visit! The best time for a great view from the tower is sunset and nighttime. Istanbul looks quite stunning from above with all it’s mosques and minarets.
How to get there: When you are coming from the other side of the Golden Horn take a tramway to Karaköy station. From there you have to walk up a little hill and end up directly in front of Galata Tower. Most of the time there is already a long queue where you have to wait. We had to stay in line for about 1 hour and a half before we got in so be prepared, get some Turkish delight and stay positive. It really is worth the view.
Tip: If you don’t want to wait you can get a similar view from some of the restaurants on the roofs. There is one directly opposite to the tower called “Anemon Hotel” which has a cafe with a great panorama on top. But in the colder seasons the rooftops often have glass windows which makes it hard to take photos.
The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia
These two historical buildings are the classics of Istanbul. You get a good view of both at the Sultan Ahmed Park. There is a big pond which is colorfully illuminated at night and makes a nice foreground for photos. Go inside the Blue Mosque (free, women need to cover their head) and visit the forecourt. If you have a wide-angle lens you can take some good pics here. The Hagia Sophia is also very nice on the inside (when there is no scaffolding), but there is often a long queue, too (fee is 30 TL, closed on Monday).
The Egyptian Obelisks
The Obelisks called the Hippodrome are located in front of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. On your way to the Blue Mosque you can´t miss them and they are worth a short stop. In my opinion they look best at night when there are also less people.
The Süleymaniye Mosque
Istanbul’s largest mosque is quite impressive and worth a visit. From its position upon a hill you have nice views of the Golden Horn and to Galata Tower. There are a few rooftop cafes directly next to the mosque where you can get an even better view of the mosque and the Golden Horn. You can have some Turkish coffee and Gözleme (a kind of Turkish pancake) there. It is hard to photograph from land, so I recommend doing a boat/ferry trip to get a view from the water (like in the photo).
The Sunken Palace
This is a good one! Its quite touristic but still really cool. It was used as a water reservoir and looks really old with its unique architecture. There are two really big Medusa heads made of stone in the back that look quite scary. Tripods are not allowed… So don’t get caught or just make use of the railing. (Dan Brown SPOILER ALERT: This is also the place where the Virus was released in his book Inferno)
How to get there: When you are standing in front of the Hagia Sophia turn right, cross the street and you see a small building with red stripes. There might be a queue there already so its pretty easy to find.
The Dancing Dervishes
There are a lot of shows of the dancing dervishes in Istanbul, but the most beautiful one might be the one located at the Dervish museum called Galata Mevlevihanesi. They have a beautiful room where the show is and you can get a nice glimpse of the Mevlevi Sufi history in the Museum. The Whirling Dervishes show is up every Sunday at 5 pm. Tickets can be bought in front of the museum.
How to get there: From the Galata Tower walk up Galip Dede Street. When you arrive near the bottom station of Tünel Metro you can see the Dervish Museum to your right. Most of the time there are already people selling tickets for the Shows.
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