With buildings dating from the early Byzantine through the late Ottoman periods, the bustling Sultanahmet District is thick with historical and religious attractions. Behold the breathtaking Hagia Sophia Museum, witness the opulent lives of sultans at Topkapi Palace, go underground to explore the Basilica Cistern, experience the active Blue Mosque and its intricate tile work, shop for the perfect souvenir at the Grand Bazaar, and imagine horse racing at the site of the ancient Hippodrome.
Most guided tours of the Sultanahmet District visit all of the six main sites, and often allow you to skip the long lines. Opt for private or group tours of various lengths to suit your travel style and schedule.
Things to Know Before You Go
Sultanahmet is an essential part of the Istanbul experience, and is a must-see for history and architecture buffs, foodies, and all first-time visitors to Istanbul.
Certain tickets or visiting with a licensed tour guide can allow you to save time and skip the lines.
Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to slip on and off, as you will have to remove them to enter the Blue Mosque.
Many of the Sultanahmet attractions are accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Sultanahmet is a short walk from the Galata Bridge and Eminonu ferry terminal. It’s directly on Istanbul’s tram line, at the Sultanahmet stop, and is also easy to reach by taxi and local bus.
When to Get There
Sultanahmet’s main attractions are open during general business hours, though check opening times before visiting. Some venues close on certain Muslim or Turkish holidays. Mosques are closed to visitors during prayer times, which are longer on Fridays.
Delve Deep into Sultanahmet
Beyond the six main attractions in Sultanahmet—the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, and Basilica Cistern—are many other places worth exploring. Stop by the German Fountain, which was a gift from the kaiser toward the end of the Ottoman Empire. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum has an impressive, vast collection. And take time to relax in Gulhane Park, former palace grounds that are now public green space.
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- Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)
- Arasta Bazaar
- Serpent Column (Yilani Sütun)
- Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Türk Islam Eserleri Müzesi Hizmete)
- Great Palace Mosaic Museum
- Hippodrome (Sultanahmet Meydani)
- Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque (Sokollu Mehmet Paşa Camii)
- Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi)
- Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (Kücük Ayasofya Camii)
- Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)
- Column of Constantine (Çemberlitaş Sütunu)
- Hagia Irene (Aya Irini)
- Grand Bazaar (Kapali Çarsi)
- Istanbul Archaeological Museums (Istanbul Arkeoloji Muzeleri)
- Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi)