Where To Get The Best Views Of Istanbul, Türkiye

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Post author Nicky

Written by our local expert Nicky

Nicky, originally from the UK, is now a local in Turkey. She moved to Marmaris, Türkiye for love 12 years ago and is now your Turkey travel planner.

If you love a good photograph (who doesn’t), then finding the best viewpoints to capture amazing shots of the whole Istanbul cityscape is a good idea. The problem is, Istanbul is so big it’s hard to get it all in one frame! But don’t worry; I know Istanbul inside and out. This guide will show you where to go to see the best views of Istanbul.

You have to make peace with the fact that you’re only going to get the most famous parts, and certainly not all of it. But believe me, even that’s enough to showcase the beautiful place that Istanbul is.

Turkey Travel Blog_Where To Get The Best Views In Istanbul

The thing about Istanbul is that you don’t realize just how stunningly beautiful it is as a whole once you’re in it. You’re so absorbed with seeing the historical sites, getting around, avoiding the traffic, doing the shopping, and eating all the food that you forget that you’re in one of the most stunning spots in the world.

There are some great lookout points where you can check out the whole panorama from the top floor of a building or a rooftop restaurant and breathe in the beauty all around you. Some are central, and some are a little further away, but they’re all more than worth the effort once you see the view in front of you.

Where To Get The Best Istanbul View

Some of these spots have entrance fees, others are free, but either way, you’ll have your mind blown at the stunning sight before you.

Let’s check out some of the best places to head to see an outstanding panorama.

1. Galata Tower

Get ready for the best aerial view of Istanbul from the Galata Tower Istanbul

Here, you can experience the best view of Istanbul from the top of the tower. An audio guide is available to enrich your experience with historical facts and stories.

Galata Tower, also known as Galata Kulesi in Turkish, is a magnificent historical landmark located in the heart of Istanbul, Turkey. Standing tall and proud at a height of 67 meters (219 feet), this iconic tower offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.

Dating back to the medieval period, Galata Tower has witnessed centuries of history unfold before its eyes. It was initially built in 1348 by the Genoese colony that resided in Istanbul during that time. The tower served various purposes throughout history, including being used as a watchtower to spot fires and as an observation point for celestial events.

Galata Tower Family Istanbul
I was climbing back down!

One of the most enchanting aspects of Galata Tower is its architecture. Its cylindrical shape with conical caps gives it a distinct appearance that stands out amidst the modern skyline. Once inside, an elevator takes you up to one of its nine floors, where you can explore different exhibits showcasing Istanbul’s rich history.

Stepping out onto the open-air observation deck feels like entering another world altogether. The dazzling views stretch far beyond what words can describe – from the bustling streets below to magnificent landmarks such as Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace in the distance.

Galata Tower also houses a restaurant serving lunch and dinner with a view – but you’re best to reserve a table if you’re going for dinner or you want to check out the sunset as you’re eating.

The best time to visit Galata Tower is as early in the day as you can to try and beat the queues. This is an extremely popular spot, so you’re always going to have to wait in line for a little while, no matter when you go. However, weekends are best avoided.

How To Get There

From Sultanahmet or Taksim Square, take the T1 tram line and get off at Karakoy station; it’s just a short walk from there, albeit up a hill. You can also take the ferry from the Asian side over to Karakoy.

2. Pierre Loti Hill

A group of people standing on a balcony overlooking the Istanbul river, enjoying the best view from Pierre Loti Hill

This is a fabulous place for a day trip, especially on the European side of Istanbul. It offers a full day of exploration with a stunning view from a wide observation platform.

Pierre Loti Hill is located in Eyup, on the famous Golden Horn. It is named after the French writer Pierre Loti, who fell in love with Istanbul during his visits in the late 19th century; this hill has become a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

To reach the top of the hill, you can take a cable car ride or choose to hike up through narrow streets lined with traditional Ottoman houses. Personally, I’d go with the cable car – that hill is steep!

Once you reach the summit, you will be greeted by a stunning panorama of Istanbul’s skyline. The view encompasses iconic landmarks such as the Golden Horn (Haliç), Galata Tower, and even as far as Topkapi Palace. It’s pretty mind-blowing.

Atop Pierre Loti Hill sits a charming café named after the famous writer. The Pierre Loti Café offers visitors an opportunity to relax and soak in the stunning views while enjoying traditional Turkish coffee or tea. The café itself is adorned with vintage photographs and memorabilia that pay homage to Pierre Loti’s love affair with Istanbul.

Aside from its scenic beauty, Pierre Loti Hill also holds historical significance. Just below the café lies Eyup Sultan Mosque, one of Turkey’s holiest sites. This mosque attracts pilgrims from all over who come to pay their respects at Eyup Sultan’s tomb.

For those looking for more adventure, there are walking paths that lead down from Pierre Loti Hill towards neighborhoods like Balat and Fener, which are known for their colorful houses and history.

How To Get There

Head to the Metro station and the metro or a tram to Eminonu Station. From there, you can either take the cable car (teleferik) directly to Pierre Loti Hill or walk along the coast for about 20 minutes. If you choose to walk, follow the signs for Eyup Sultan Mosque and then continue uphill until you reach Pierre Loti Hill.

3. Camlica Hill

Hidden gems of Istanbul - Aerial drone view of Istanbul, Turkey. Camlica Tower

Recognized as one of the best things to do in Istanbul, this hill provides a panoramic view that encompasses both the European and Asian sides of the city.

Çamlıca Hill offers spectacular panoramic views of the city and is a must-visit destination when you’re in the city. It’s not the easiest place to get to, but it’s far from impossible, and it’s free to enter.

Camlica Hill is located on the Asian side of Istanbul, in the Uskudar district. It sits at an elevation of 268 meters above sea level.

Once you reach the top of Çamlıca Hill, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Istanbul’s skyline, including famous landmarks such as the Bosphorus Bridge, Maiden’s Tower, and Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque). The view is particularly stunning during sunset or at night when the city lights up.

The hill is surrounded by lush greenery and beautifully landscaped parks where you can relax, have a picnic, or enjoy a leisurely walk in nature. There are also several cafes and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat while enjoying the scenery.

There is some history to explore, too. Camlica Hill has been an important site throughout history. In Ottoman times, it was used as a hunting ground for sultans and later became popular among Turkish poets who found inspiration in its natural beauty.

Overall, this is one spot you’ll need your camera for, as you can see right over the city and far beyond, even over the Sea of Marmara and the Princes Islands.

How To Get There

You can reach Camlica Hill by taking public transportation, such as buses or ferries, from various parts of Istanbul to the Uskudar district. From there, it’s just a short taxi ride or walk to reach the hilltop.

Look for any bus which is heading to Camlica Mosque, and you can easily reach the hill from there.

4. Maiden’s Tower

Where To Party In Istanbul - Uskudar

Maiden’s Tower, also known as Kız Kulesi in Turkish, is an iconic structure located on a small islet at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus Strait on the Asian side and is part of many Istanbul itineraries. This historical tower has stood tall for centuries and has many legends attached to it.

The origins of Maiden’s Tower date back to ancient times when it was initially built as a defense fortress by the ancient Greeks. Over time, it has undergone numerous transformations and renovations under different rulers and civilizations that have left their mark on Istanbul.

One of the most fascinating legends surrounding Maiden’s Tower is about a Byzantine emperor who received a prophecy stating that his daughter would be killed by a snake bite on her 18th birthday. To protect her from this fate, he had this tower constructed on an isolated rock in the middle of the sea. However, despite all that, tragedy struck when a snake hidden inside a basket of fruits bit her.

Once inside Maiden’s Tower, you will see a stunning panoramic view overlooking Istanbul’s European skyline—a sight that truly takes your breath away! The observation deck provides an ideal vantage point to witness both modern skyscrapers and historic landmarks such as Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, and it’s a splendid spot to enjoy Istanbul’s romantic nightlife.

Aside from its picturesque views, the tower also houses a restaurant where you can enjoy delicious Turkish cuisine, although you will need to reserve a table ahead of time.

There is also an entrance fee to go inside Maidan’s Tower, which includes the boat. This is currently 600TL in total.

How To Get There

If you’re on the European side, take a ferry over to Uskudar and follow the signs to Maidan’s Tower; you can easily walk. On the Asian side, catch a bus to Uskudar; you’ll find many going in that direction.

5. Ulus Park

Ulus Hill is located in the Besiktas district, and it’s a pretty fancy area known for its upscale residential neighborhoods and luxurious villas. It is also a place to enjoy a fantastic Turkish breakfast!

One of the main attractions of Ulus Hill is its panoramic view of the Bosphorus Strait. From here, you can see the ships sailing through the water while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee at one of the many cafes. There are also some pretty upmarket restaurants and bars in this area, which, while not at all cheap, will give you a great experience and a fantastic view.

The hill itself is full of greenery and beautiful gardens, so it’s a great spot to escape the hustle and bustle and go for a leisurely walk or picnic. You can also head to the main shopping area, which has some high-end boutiques offering designer clothing brands and luxury goods.

How To Get There

You can take the bus from Besiktas to Ulus and walk up the hill, or you can take a taxi, depending on how busy the traffic is.

6. Rumeli Fortress

hidden gems in Istanbul - Rumeli Fortress at Istanbul Turkey

This spot provides a historical perspective with some of the best views of Istanbul, especially during the summer months when the city is in full bloom.

Rumeli Fortress, also known as Rumeli Hisarı in Turkish, is a magnificent historical landmark located close to Bebek on the European side of the city. It was built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1452 to prepare for the siege of Constantinople.

This fortress holds great significance as it played a crucial role in the conquest of Constantinople by providing strategic control over the Bosphorus Strait. The construction of the Rumeli Fortress took only four months and involved thousands of workers.

The fortress features three main towers and several smaller ones, all connected by sturdy walls. Its architecture showcases a blend of Byzantine and Ottoman styles, making it an architectural marvel to behold. Put simply, visiting Rumeli Fortress is like stepping back in time.

As you explore its grounds, you can imagine what life was like during those historic times. The panoramic views from the top are sensational, offering stunning vistas of both sides of the Bosphorus River.

Inside, you’ll find a museum that displays artifacts related to its history and provides detailed information about its construction and purpose. There’s also a small theatre where you can watch videos about its construction and what it meant to the city back in the day.

There is an entrance fee of 100TL to enter the castle, and it closes at 4 pm, so make sure you plan your day accordingly or consider buying the Istanbul Museum Pass if you plan to see other landmarks during your time in the city.

You’ll undoubtedly want to take plenty of photos from the top because the view is nothing short of dazzling.

How To Get There

Take the metro or tram to Kabatas station and then walk along the main road to Besiktas. Then, you can either take a taxi or bus to reach Rumeli Fortress. Look for a bus that goes to Sariyer or Bebek.

7. Rooftop Restaurants & Bars

Turkey Travel Blog_Best Rooftop Bars & Restaurants In Istanbul_16 Roof Swisshotel Restaurant & Bar
Photo Credit: 16 Roof Swisshotel Restaurant & Bar

Alternatively, you can enjoy a delicious meal and some drinks by checking out some of the many rooftop bars and restaurants that have excellent panoramic views.

There are far too many to mention here. Still, some popular options include 360 Istanbul East Restaurant & Bar, Mikla Restaurant at The Marmara Pera Hotel, 16 Roof Swisshotel Restaurant & Bar, or Leb-i Derya in Beyoglu.

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How Big Is Istanbul

Most Beautiful Mosques In Turkey - Blue mosque in Istanbul at sunset

Istanbul is a very large city, spanning an area of approximately 5,343 square kilometers (2,063 square miles). It is one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 15 million people.

It’s the only city in the world that straddles two continents, with the Bosphorus cutting Asia and Europe in two.

Now you can see why the view would be pretty special, right?

Views Of Istanbul FAQs


What are some popular spots in Istanbul to enjoy a breathtaking view?

Istanbul offers numerous vantage points that provide stunning views of the city. Some popular spots include Galata Tower, Pierre Loti Hill, Camlica Hill, and the rooftop terraces of various hotels and restaurants.

How do I get to Galata Tower?

Galata Tower is located in the Beyoglu district. You can easily reach it by taking a tram or metro to Karakoy station and then walking for about 10 minutes.

Alternatively, you can take a taxi or use ride-sharing services like Uber or BiTaksi.

Are there any free options for enjoying panoramic views in Istanbul?

If you’re looking for free options, head over to Pierre Loti Hill in the Eyup district. You can take a cable car up the hill and enjoy stunning views of the Golden Horn and historic peninsula without spending anything.

Can I visit Camlica Hill at night?

Camlica Hill is open until late at night, allowing visitors to experience both daytime and nighttime views of Istanbul’s skyline.

Are there any lesser-known places with great views that locals recommend?

Locals often suggest visiting Büyük Valide Han Rooftop Terrace near Sultanahmet Square for an awesome view of Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque from above.

Another hidden gem is Kadıköy Moda Pier on the Asian side, offering picturesque vistas across the Bosphorus Strait.

Are there any precautions I should take while visiting these viewpoints?

While enjoying the views, it’s important to be mindful of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings. Some spots can get crowded during peak hours, so it’s advisable to secure your valuables and be cautious of pickpockets.

Are these viewpoints accessible for people with mobility issues?

Some locations may have limited accessibility due to stairs or uneven terrain. However, several places offer elevators or ramps for easier access.

It’s always best to check beforehand if specific spots cater to individuals with mobility issues.

Can I visit these viewpoints during the winter months?

Yes, but remember that weather conditions might affect visibility at times, so checking the forecast before planning your visit is advisable.

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