The poets weren’t wrong when they described Istanbul as a ‘bejewelled woman’. In fact, Istanbul is so much more; it might be more appropriate to call it ‘a woman bejewelled with a thousand treasures’. Because here you can have whatever your heart desires. And whether that’s beautiful views of stunning landscapes or unrivalled cityscapes showing where east meets west, then this is the place for you.
Istanbul Sapphire is the second-highest building in Europe after the Shard in London. It has 66 floors, 10 of which are underground. The building, which is 236 metres high, has a shopping centre, car park and residential properties. There is a viewing terrace on the top floor from which you have fantastic views of the city with the naked eye. Or you can pay an extra fee to use the observation tools.
Located in Istanbul Kağıthane district, Çeliktepe neighbourhood, Sapphire is close to Levent, one of Istanbul’s major financial centres. If you’re using public transport the Metro is ideal and you can reach Sapphire on the M2 line. If you’re travelling by car use the building’s car park.
Open Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
Location: Emniyetevleri, Eski Büyükdere Cd. No:1, Kağıthane/İstanbul
Phone Number: (0212) 268 80 80
2. Galata Tower
Galata Tower, which is visited by everyone living in Istanbul at least once, was built in 528 by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius. The original wooden structure was destroyed by fire and then rebuilt using stone in 1348 by the Genoese, who renamed it Christea Turris. The tower came under Ottoman rule in 1453 and was used for a variety of purposes. The top of the tower stands 66.9 metres from the ground and 140 metres above sea level. From here you’re afforded excellent views of Old Istanbul. The first 7 floors can be reached using the elevator but for the final 2 floors you must use the stairs. Opening hours are 9.00am to 7.00pm.
The most convenient way to reach Galata Tower in Beyoğlu, Bereketzade District is by Metro. Take the Yenikapı-Hacıosman Metro and get off at Şişhane. Follow signs for the Refik Stadium Street exit and the tower is just a short walk away. If you’re coming from Istiklal Street, follow the signs as you approach the tunnel. From Eminönü you’ll have to walk uphill from Bankalar Street. If you want to come by car, when you see the Galata Tower sign on the Tarlabaşı – Taksim road – turn right and park your car in the car park there. An entrance fee is charged for the Galata Tower.
3. Pierre Loti Hill
Pierre Loti Hill is the most beautiful point from which to enjoy views of the Golden Horn. The region is called Pierre Loti Hill in memory of French writer Julien Viaud (his pseudonym was Pierre Loti), who adopted Istanbul as his second home. This hill was his favourite place and today you can enjoy a great breakfast followed by a visit to Eyüp Sultan and other beautiful places in the surrounding area.
The Pierre Loti Hill is located within the borders of Eyüp, overlooking the Golden Horn. Once you arrive at the centre of Eyüp, you can get to Pierre Loti by telpher. Telpher has one standard ticket price with İstanbul Kart (a prepaid card that you can use in all public transport in Istanbul). If you want to come by Metrobus, you need to get off at Ayvansaray Stop. If you are coming from Topkapi or Edirnekapi you can use minibuses. Please note Istanbul Kart is not valid on minibuses where you’ll have to pay in cash. You can get to Eyüp by the Üsküdar – Eyüp ferry service from the Anatolian side.
4. Valide Han
Built by Kösem Mahpeyker Valide Sultan, one of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century, Valide Han is one of the biggest inns in Istanbul. You can take a picture while jumping from the big dome on the roof which is famous for its view. Today there are nearly 300 shops in the Valide Han where caravans stayed in the past. The fee to go to the dome is quite low.
Valide Han is located between Çakmakçılar Hill and Fincancılar Hill in Mahmutpaşa. If you come from Eminönü, you can reach the inn via Tahtakale Hill. From Beyazıt it’s easier to reach without going up on a hill. You’ll need to climb the stairs to the roof door, where you’ll pay the entrance fee.
5. Çamlica Hill
Çamlıca Hill is the ideal place for a panoramic view of the Bosphorus and the Marmara Sea. You can visit the Küçük Çamlıca Grove, Sofa, Cihannüma and Topkapı Pavilion on the Küçük Çamlıca Hill, 229 metres above sea level. Here you can sample the delicious food of Ottoman – Turkish cuisine. Büyük Çamlıca Hill, which is 262 metres above sea level, is the most popular of the two hills. There are many restaurants, cafes, and facilities here. A visit to see the charming view of Çamlıca Hill at sunset is highly recommended; as darkness descends the city lights appear.
You can reach Çamlıca Hill within the borders of Üsküdar by bus. You can come to Üsküdar and take the buses 11A, 11D, 11E, 11F, 11G, 11K, 11L, 11P, 11ST, 11V, 11Y, 11ÜS, 320, 9A, 9Ç, 9ÜD or 9Ş. If you’re coming from Taksim, you can use 129T bus. If you want to come by car, you’ll have to go to Altunizade and follow the signs.
6. Maiden’s Tower
The Üsküdar shore – the closest point to Kizkulesi – offers an idyllic sunset view. From here we recommend you enjoy the view of Kizkulesi from the cushions on Salacak shore while sipping tea and having a snack. You can bring your own food and drink. You’ll lose yourself in the setting sun just behind the Maiden’s Tower, and the sparkling city lights. For early risers, this region is ideal for watching the sunrise too.
You can reach this region via any public transport to the Anatolian side, Üsküdar and Salacak shore.
7. Ortakoy Mosque Pier
Enchanting with its Neo-Baroque architecture, Ortaköy Mosque’s original name is Great Mecidiye Mosque. However, people know it as the Ortaköy Mosque. The mosque, located at the northern end of Ortaköy Pier Square (Ortaköy İskele Meydanı), was completed in 1854. It offers a unique view at night of the Anatolian side, the Bosphorus and the illumination which reveals the architectural beauty of the Mosque.
You can take the Ortaköy bus to go to Ortaköy Square in Ortaköy district in Beşiktaş.
Open Hours: Weekdays 09:15 – 18:45, Weekends 10: 00 – 18: 45 / 20:15 – 00:30
Location: Salacak Mevkii, Üsküdar
Phone Number: (0212) 512 04 80
8. Çamlıca Tower
When the transmitters in Istanbul Çamlıca disturbed the city’s skyline, a decision was made to collect them in a single transmitter tower; the construction of the Çamlıca Tower was started for this purpose. Built on Küçük Çamlıca Hill, the tower has an altitude of 365 metres and boasts a restaurant and terrace on the 39th and 40th floors. There are also terraces on the 33rd and 34th floors. Construction is due to be completed soon on what will be one of the most modern buildings in Istanbul.
You’ll need to reach Küçük Çamlıca Hill to get to Çamlıca Tower on Üsküdar Küçük Çamlıca Hill.
Open Hours: –
Location: Küçük Çamlıca, Üsküdar/İstanbul
Phone Number: –