For all its chaotic personality traits, Istanbul’s beauty has managed to survive and there are countless angles from which to admire the city’s visual architectural timeline (complemented by the Bosphorus). Even though it’s probably impossible to track down all the areas where you can lovingly gaze at the city, we did pick our personal favorite spots to enjoy the view.
Haliç Metro Köprüsü
Looking more like an elongated spaceship than a bridge, the Haliç Metro bridge has a walkway that allows you to stop and enjoy the beautiful Istanbul view. We definitely recommend going here at night when the moonlight shines over the water.
Overlooking Heybeliada, one of the Princes Islands, the Ruhban Okulu (Halki Seminary) was the main school of theology belonging to the Eastern Orthodox Church’s Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. After closing in 1971, due to a law banning private higher education institutions in Turkey, the former school and its church remain the island’s most popular sight. Behind the school building you can walk into the garden, which overlooks an absolutely beautiful view of the sea.
Karaköy Ferry Port
Even though Karaköy has become a land for hipsters, its ferry port still has that nostalgic Istanbul charm — with the old ferries floating in and out and balık ekmek (fish sandwich) sellers grilling their daily catches. The little port is also an excellent spot to gaze at the entirety of Sultanahmet as well as the Asian Side in the distance. If that doesn’t suffice, take the ferry to Kadıköy and enjoy the view from all kinds of angles.
Oba Park Café
If you don’t have a car, it’s a bit of a walk to get to this spot; but that exertion is — believe us — absolutely worth it as the entire path leads you up the famous strait and offers a thousand different views. By the time you get to Oba Park Café you’ll want to sit down, and good thing too, because right in front of you would be the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. Wait until it’s evening time — the bridge will begin to change colors, and that is a sight behold.
Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque
This 16th century imperial mosque commissioned by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, is a stunning sight on its own, made of marble, granite, and decorated with İznik tiles. But take a walk to its outer courtyard for an expansive Istanbul view befitting of a sultan.
Abdi Subaşı Sokak
The Balat and Fener neighborhoods are literally an open-air museum exhibiting the former houses of Greek Orthodox and Jewish families as well as their respective churches. While exploring the neighborhoods, make sure to wander to the end of this street, which will give you a fantastic view of the stunning Phanar Greek Orthodox College.
The Cihangir Tea Corner
Kudos to the man who decided that arranging a few plastic chairs on this street, which faces an absolutely gorgeous view of both Sultanahmet and the Asian Side, was an excellent idea. All you need to do here is order some tea and put your feet up to enjoy the view (and take some great photos).
On a rainy day, Salt Galata is probably one of the best places to enjoy the view from behind a floor-to-ceiling window and a comfy chair. If the weather doesn’t improve by the time you’re done gazing, you can spend the next hour or four in this beautiful library/museum/bookstore/exhibition space.