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5 Hidden Treasures To Discover In Istanbul


I’ve traveled to over 30 countries in the past decade, and I can confirm that the rumours of traveling being addictive are true! Experiencing different cultures, religions and foods completely opens your mind to the many diverse lifestyles that inhabit our planet. The experience is truly priceless. But there’s always that one place that you’ve always wanted to visit but never got around to it. For me, that place is Istanbul. I’ve heard loads of stories from fellow travelers about how amazing Istanbul is with it’s rich history and culture. How the smell of delicious foods being cooked circulates throughout the city. As a result, I’ve done some research into some of the hidden treasures to discover when visiting Istanbul. To give you a brief insight into some of the wonders you can find in Istanbul, here are four hidden treasures not to be missed!


1.Visit the Hagia Sophia Cathedral


While it may not be that hidden (large, beautiful building – you really can’t miss it), it is certainly a treasure of Istanbul that you must visit. Built in the 6th century AD and also known as the Church of Divine Wisdom, the Hagia Sophia was first a Pagan Temple, then a Mosque, and finally back to the Cathedral we know it today. The most amazing thing about this Cathedral is that it is the only religious site in the world that has served to three religions throughout it’s existence! As you can imagine, the Cathedral consists of rare and expensive marbles, vast amounts of gold mosaic and rich liturgical furnishings. You can touch the ‘weeping column’ to be healed of illness, drink from the well in the great hall, and visit the tomb of Queen Sophia where, if touched by anyone, would cause the whole Cathedral to come tumbling down!


2. Shop at the Grand Bazaar market


The Grand Bazaar market is one of the world’s most exciting shopping experiences, so naturally it’s a hidden treasure in Istanbul that you surely don’t want to miss! Being one of the largest covered markets in the world, the Grand Bazaar consists of 60 streets and over 5,000 shops. From jewellery, leathers, carpets, embroideries, spices, hand-painted ceramics and antique shops, the Grand Bazaar has been an important trading centre in Istanbul since 1461. Open from Monday to Saturday, the Grand Bazaar is every shopaholic’s dream where you can find prized items for bargain prices. Sit at one of the cafe’s and watch the world go by in a romantic atmosphere to get an authentic taste of the old Istanbul.


3. Taste the specialities of Istanbul’s street food


There are hidden treasures to be discovered literally everywhere in Istanbul with all of its tantalising street food. Fell like a snack? Eat a kumpir which is a baked potato loaded with cheese, butter, olives, pickles, corn and more. Or you could try a sesame seed covered pretzel from the red stands along Istiklal Avenue. From traditional Turkish pastries made of flaky dough and stuffed with feta cheese and minced meat to chicken breast pudding, Istanbul has an abundance of delicious street food everywhere in the city, so be prepared to put on a few kilos when you visit!


4. Go to a whirling dervish show


The whirling dervish shows are a unique religious ceremony you don’t want to miss when visiting Istanbul. The ceremony consists of dervishes (Muslim holy men) that spin themselves into a trance-like state that triggers a divine experience, bringing them closer to God, and is a form of meditation that traces back to the early 13th century. While there are many whirling dervish shows throughout the city, the best place to witness the unique ceremony is in Konya, where the Mevlevi order was founded. Remember, while the ceremony resembles a performance, it is still a religious occasion so refrain from talking and taking pictures with flashes while the dervishes are spinning.


5. Stay in luxury

When travelling, it’s always nice to go that little extra mile and stay somewhere luxurious. When you visit, stay at one of the famous old city hotels like the  to ensure you make the most of your experience. There’s nothing better than relaxing in a comfortable bed after spending the whole day exploring a new city! Some hotels even have some upgraded in-room compendiums and great resort-style features. So, even if you want to take a break from exploring the city, you still have plenty to do at your hotel.


Istanbul is one of the world’s most amazing cities with it’s rich history of culture and religion. While there are many hidden treasures to discover, this article only gives you a brief insight into the wonders that you can find in Istanbul.


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