Today – Free things to do in Istanbul. How to visit Istanbul on a budget.
Above all, Istanbul is a great place for a break. You can truly feel that this is where East meets West. There’s a great combination of historic and cultural sights, delicious food and modern city nightlife. Whether you want to visit Istanbul on a budget or you’re just looking to save money on one day to splurge on another, this list of free things to do in Istanbul will help your holiday budget go further.
I swear by the Lonely Planet series. Their Pocket Istanbul guide is really useful. Small enough to fit in a handbag but packed full of everything you need including a fold out map, lists of the top attractions by area and some suggested itineraries for different lengths of stay.
Free things to do in Istanbul
1 – Blue Mosque – A 400 year old mosque with domes covered in 20,000 blue tiles, built to rival Hagia Sophia. Free entry 9:30-5:30 except during prayer times.
2 – Grand Bazaar – The worlds biggest market, open Monday to Saturday. Browse over 3000 shops and enjoy the street food. You may even get a free cuppa from a carpet trader while you haggle.
3 – Sail the Bosphorus – While not totally free the IDO fast ferry and sea bus are a very cheap way to cruise the Bosphorus, taking in the sights and possibly some dolphins if you’re lucky.
4 – Film Festivals – The Istanbul International Short Film Festival takes place in November. Films are shown for free at various venues around the city. The Mountain Films Festival takes place in the spring.
5 – Explore the Princes’ Islands – These picturesque islands can be visited for just the cost of a boat ride (under £1). The cruise is a treat in itself.
6 – Dogancay Museum – Modern art museum. It showcases the work of two of Turkey’s most important painters, father and son Adil and Burhan Dogancay. Open Tuesday to Sunday with afternoon tea between 3-5pm.
7 – Yildiz Park – Historically part of Yildiz Palace, the park is a great place for a walk or a picnic.
8 – Aya Sofya Tombs – The beautiful decoration of the tombs includes Ottoman tile work, calligraphy and decorative paintwork.
9 – Egyptian Spice Market – A colourful and instagramable market in the Eminonu area.
So if you’re planning to visit Istanbul I hope that’s given you plenty of options for free things to do in Istanbul. If you have another suggestion do leave us a comment below.