Where to go for the best views of Istanbul

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Istanbul, which straddles the Bosphorus straits and lies in both Europe and Asia has mesmerising views across different points in the city.

The city in Turkey has a lot of different histories and cultures, considering being influenced by different empires of the past, namely the Romans, Byzantine and the Ottoman.

Despite the change of different rulers since centuries ago, many of the buildings and architectures are still being preserved, hence, it gives a wonderful view from different parts of the city.

Here’s some of the view that is worth exploring.

Galata Tower

The nine-storey Galata Tower’s vantage point is undisputed, seeing as it was built by the Genoese in 1348 and used as an observation tower to spot fires by the Ottomans. It is a high, cone-capped cylinder that dominates the skyline and offers a panoramic view of Istanbul’s historic peninsula.  For a breathtaking view of Istanbul’s skyline go at sunset but be prepared to stand in line as there’s often a queue of people waiting to enter.

Maiden’s Tower

Also known as the Leander’s Tower, visit this famous Istanbul landmark by boat from Uskudar on the Asian side. In existence since the medieval Byzantine period, legend has it that an emperor put his daughter in the tower to protect her from a prophecy that had predicted she would be killed by venomous snakes. You might have noticed this famous tower in blockbuster movies and TV shows as it is featured in two James Bond films, The World Is Not Enough and From Russia With Love as well as Hitman and The Amazing Race 7.

Otağtepe Park

Located by the Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridge, along Kavacik, in the Beykoz district on the Asian side, the Fatih Grove Tema Vehbi Koç Nature Culture Center (formerly known as Otağtepe Park) offers spectacular views of Istanbul and so called as fake heaven. You can see the two bridges and the city’s best scenery with a bird’s eye view, and combined with the unique Bosphorus view. 

Ciragan Palace Kempinski

The palatial surroundings of the Ciragan Palace Kempinski counts as a must-see spot in Istanbul, which is a former Ottoman palace. Once known as the Kazancioglu Gardens, this historic 17th-century structure was home to seven sultans and hosted celebrities, nation leaders and VIPs. Walk out from the palace, and you’ll be able to have a good view of the strait and the other side of Istanbul.

Buyuk Camlica Tepesi / Camlica Hill

If you happen to find yourself on the Asian side of Istanbul, pay a visit to the Buyuk Camlica Tepesi that’s situated 268 m above sea level. It has a panoramic view of the southern part of Bosphorus and the mouth of Golden Horn. Easily reached by bus or taxi, there’s a number of cafes dotted about the park where a cup of Turkish coffee and a snack can be enjoyed along with the sunset.

House Cafe Ortakoy

Few cafes will offer as good a setting as the House Café in Ortakoy. Its patio seats look out directly on the Bosphorus Bridge and the sublime Ortakoy Mosque.

Sakip Sabanci Museum

Set in a 1920s mansion – known as Atli Kosk (or Horse Mansion) – that was once the residence of an Egyptian prince, it is now a private fine arts museum dedicated to calligraphic art, paintings, religious and state documents of the Ottoman era. Situated in the wealthy Emirgan neighbourhood, the mansion’s lush garden and terrace has a view looking towards the Anatolian side of Istanbul.

This museum has also gained attention when exhibited the works of Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin.

Buyuk Valide Han

Buyuk Valide Han which means ‘great inn of the Sultan’s mother’, is located close to Grand Bazaar in the Mahmutpasa ramp. It was founded in 1651 by Kösem Valide Sultan, the mother of the Ottoman sultans Murat IV and Ibrahim. The terrace of the Inn has become very popular in the recent year with the photo lovers. 

Mikla Restaurant

Istanbul has a number of restaurants and bars that boast a sky-high perch with the view of the amazing Bosphorus but Mikla Rooftop Bar has a distinct advantage. With a cool outdoor terrace, that’s heated in the winter months, you can enjoy a great view of the historical city.

Pierre Loti Cafe

The on-site café has existed since the 18th century – this is reason alone to visit. It overlooks the Golden Horn from an elevated vantage point and reachable via walking up a hill or riding a cable car just adds to the experience. Go for the view but linger on to explore the numerous historical buildings including a double epigraphy, wooden Kasgari Tekkesi (religious establishment belonging to Sufis) dating back to 1813.

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