Romantic things to do in Istanbul

Istanbul for couples

Istanbul is a place like no other. It’s unique blend of both Asia and Europe make it a must-see. From excellent views to unique shopping experiences, it offers plenty of romantic memories.

  1. Enjoy a scrub down in a hammam
  2. Marvel at the spectacular views of Istanbul from the Galata Tower
  3. Enjoy a drink or two at the 360 bar
  4. Peruse the arcades in Istanbul
  5. Enjoy a romantic Bosphorus cruise ride along the water

There are so many things to do for couples in Istanbul. Think a peaceful cruise down the water and drinks with views like no others. If you’re inspired to jet away with your loved one, take a look at our Istanbul holidays.

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Rough Guides

1. Enjoy a scrub down in a hammam

One of the best couply things to do in Istanbul is to head to a hammam. The Ayasofya Hürrem (Sultan Hamami) was built by Sinan in 1556 for Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. The building comprises two separate baths, for men and women, with entry from either end into the large, domed camekan or reception/changing area. Beyond this lies the main bath chamber, the hararet, where bathers rinse themselves down with water from a basin or “steam” on the hot göbek taşı (“navel stone”). It’s a great way to treat yourself and feel squeaky clean!

Best for: Enjoying some TLC

Don’t forget: Hammam in the Galata and the Waterfront Districts is a shop which sells a wide range of Turkish bath accessories.

2. Marvel at the spectacular views of Istanbul from the Galata Tower

Best reached by walking down Galip Dede Caddesi from İstiklal Tünel station, the Galata Tower is a soaring, 61m-high medieval tower, capped by a distinctive conical roof, was known as the Tower of Christ when it was built by the Genoese in 1349. Originally part of the fortification wall constructed to protect the Genoese mercantile colony established within it, it was turned into a jail in the fifteenth century. From the eighteenth century, its purpose was more prosaic and pragmatic, as a watchtower for the then all too common fires. It is by far the biggest attraction in Galata, with long queues sometimes snaking around the square - particularly for the ever-popular sunset viewing period. The lookout gallery, reached today by a lift, is often crowded, but the views are worth it, with a foreground of the ferry-filled Golden Horn and manic Eminönü waterfront backed by the serene, mosque-lined skyline of the old city, all stately domes and elegant minarets. The tower is home to an expensive café and touristy oriental floor-shows take place most evenings after 8pm.

Best for: Sprawling views of Istanbul

Don’t forget: Don’t forget to enjoy a kebab when in Istanbul! Head to the Guney Restaurant which is closeby.

3. Enjoy a drink or two at the 360 bar

Enjoying a drink in the 360 bar is one of the romantic things to do in Istanbul. The top floor of this fine nineteenth-century apartment block is home to this upmarket bar-restaurant. Take the lift and - if suitably attired - you can enjoy the 360° views and sip a drink whose price reflects the grandeur of the vista.

Best for: Romantic tipple

Don’t forget: Nevizade Sokak in Beyoğlu is particularly noted for its raucous drinking (and eating) scene.

4. Peruse the arcades in Istanbul

One of the delights of exploring İstiklal Caddesi and its offshoots is its nineteenth-century arcades. By far the best known and touristy is the Cite de Pera, more commonly known by its Turkish name Çiçek Pasajı (Flower Arcade), just north of Galatasaray Meydanı. Beautifully restored and today full of overpriced restaurants, its name derives from the White Russian émigrés who sold flowers here in the 1920s. The Cite de Syrie (Suriye Pasajı in Turkish), at the southern end of İstiklal Caddesi, was designed by a Greek architect in 1908 and has an ornate facade as well as housing the vintage clothing store By Retro. Perhaps the most attractive of them all, however, is the Passage d’Europe (Avrupa Pasajı), which links Meşrutiyet Caddesi with Sahane Sok. Three storeys high, with a barrel-vaulted glazed roof and lined with Neoclassical statues, each of which represents a different craft, it’s home today to some fine antique and souvenir shops. Other historic arcades include Hazzopulo, Aznavur, Halep (Aleppo) and Atlas pasajıs.

Best for: Shopping with your loved one

Don’t forget: The Arasta Bazaar near the Blue Mosque is good for quality Turkish souvenirs.

5. Enjoy a romantic Bosphorus cruise ride along the water

The long, six-hour Bosphorus cruise run by Şehir Hatları is a highlight of any visit to Istanbul. Tickets (ŧ25 round trip) can be bought from the Boğaz Ferry Terminal just east of the Galata Bridge in Eminönü, with boats departing daily at 10.35am year-round, 10.35am and 1.35pm May to September. An extra noon departure is usually added between June 9 and August 31. Drinks and snacks are available on board, as the only lengthy stop is a 2.5hr layover at peaceful Anadolu Kavağı village, on the strait’s Asian side. En route, brief stops are made at Beşiktaş (Europe), Kanlıca (Asia), Sariyer and Rumeli Kavağı (both Europe). You can get off at any of these points (ŧ15 one-way tickets are available) but you’ll have to take a bus back to the city centre. Travelling north, on the European shore you’ll see Dolmabahçe Palace and Ortaköy before passing under the first Bosphorus Bridge, with Beylerbeyi Palace on the Asian shore virtually under the bridge. Back on the European side you’ll pass Arnavutköy and Bebek, once sleepy fishing villages turned into prosperous suburbs. It’s one of the best ways to sit back, relax and soak up all the sights.

Best for: Seeing Istanbul by the water

Don’t forget: Other cruises include Şehir Hatları’s short tour from Eminönü to Ortaköy departing daily at 2.30pm.

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