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10 Istanbul Hidden Gems To Visit For Unique Things To Do in Istanbul!

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Istanbul is such an amazing city for tourists to visit! There are so many popular things to do in Istanbul and so many world-class Istanbul tourist attractions. These are worth visiting, of course, however, if you have already been to Istanbul before or you want a unique look at Istanbul, these Istanbul hidden gems are the best places in Istanbul to visit!

I’ve been to Istanbul 3 times, twice as a tourist for 3 days and afterwards, I lived in Istanbul for 3 months. Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque are cool but there are so many more amazing places to visit in Istanbul that you can go!

Best of all, when you visit these hidden gems in Istanbul you’ll escape the real tourist areas of Istanbul and find yourself in local Istanbul neighbourhoods instead and this is really how you see the beauty of Istanbul, its people, and its cats! So let me show you how to see the best Istanbul hidden gems and go off the beaten path in Istanbul!

Istanbul Hidden Gems

Istanbul Hidden Gems
Keep reading for my top Istanbul Hidden Gems!

1. Camlica Cami Turkey’s Biggest Mosque – Istanbul Hidden Gems!

This mosque is certainly not hidden as it is the biggest mosque in Turkey and sits right on the hill of the Asian of Istanbul however you may not have heard of it and it’s not well known as one of the things to do in Istanbul because it was only completed in 2019 and that’s why it’s on my list of Istanbul hidden gems!

There are many beautiful mosques in Istanbul but Camlica Mosque is definitely the best! The sheer scale of it inside and outside is incredible and it offers an amazing view over the city! The best time to visit Camlica Mosque is later afternoon and to stay around for sunset in my opinion!

Related Post: How to get To Camlica Mosque in Istanbul!

Camlica Cami outside, istanbul hidden gems
This is Turkey’s biggest mosque but still one of my Istanbul hidden gems!

Look for the best flights to Istanbul here!

I use Skyscanner to book all of my flights! I’m a huge fan of Skyscanner because I love how easy it is to compare different dates and routes to help me find the best flight at the best price! 

Open Skyscanner by clicking here and search for the best flights as you read this post.

2. Maiden’s Tower in Uskudar

Called Kız Kulesi on Google Maps, Maiden’s Tower is 200m off the coast of Uskudar on the Asian side of Istanbul located in the Bosphorus.

It’s home to a cafe where you can have drinks and food all day, including Khavali (Turkish Breakfast!). Despite its size, it also has a museum inside too. Overall, when looking for what to do in Istanbul, this is one of the really unique places to visit in Istanbul and one of the top Istanbul hidden gems to visit.

I also love the neighbourhood of Uskudar so you can explore Uskudar at the same time and it won’t be a wasted trip over to Asia!

Related Post: 10 Things to do un Uskudar, Istanbul!

maidens tower, istanbul hidden gems
Enjoy a coffee or lunch in Maidens Tower on the Bosphorus, one of the unique things to do in Istanbul.

3. Balat – Istanbul Hidden Gems

The neighbourhood of Balat is pretty well known when it comes to places to visit in Istanbul and this is because of the colourful houses in Balat.

However, I have included Balat Istanbul in my list of Istanbul hidden gems because the neighbourhood offers so much more than just the colourful row of houses you have seen on Instagram!

There are colourful cafes too, street art, antique shops all set up for tourists but there is also local streets and shops to explore. All in all, you can easily spend a few hours in Balat doing all of the things to do in Balat, which is something that surprised me!

Related Post: Balat Istanbul Guide & What to do in Balat!

balat colourful houses, istanbul hidden gems
Balat is one of the Istanbul hidden gems I recommend you visit!

4. Princes Island

Want to get away from the city? A great day trip from Istanbul is over to the Princes Islands. They are close to the city but you’ll feel like you’re somewhere very far away and they are some of the most beautiful places in Istanbul!

You can walk and cycle around the islands, look at the pretty houses and unique architecture, eat seafood and browse the shops. It’s hard to believe the 3 scenic islands of Princes Islands are so close to the hustle and bustle of Istanbul’s tourist attractions and that’s why they are one of my Istanbul hidden gems!

Princes Island from water, Istanbul hidden gems

5. Antiques Shopping in Cihangir – Off The Beaten Path Istanbul

What I love about Istanbul is all of the different neighbourhoods, this is how you see the real side of Istanbul! I lived in the neighbourhood Cihangir for 3 months and it is my favourite area of the city!

Cihangir is actually the reason for me writing about these Istanbul hidden gems because I want you to see the Istanbul that I lived in and loved for 3 months!

Easy to walk to from Taksim, Karakoy and Galata, you will find cool cafes and restaurants here but what you will see most of is Antique shops! These are the best antique shops in Istanbul and there are so many!

Head to Cukurcuma (called Çukur Cuma Cd on google maps) because this is where most of the antique shops in Cihangir are and from there you can spend a few hours walking around the neighbourhood. This is my kind of Istanbul sightseeing!

Cihangir antique shops, istanbul hidden gems
Cukurcuma street in Cihangir is my favourite!

6. Nevmekan Sahil

I got so many replies to my Instagram stories when I went to Nevmekan Sahil cafe and library because it’s seriously cool! This is definitely one of the unique things to do in Istanbul because it’s one of those places that you’ll only visit if someone tells you!

Located in the Uskudar (yes, another reason to go to Uskudar, it is a cool neighbourhood on the Asian side of Istanbul), the building does not look like much from the outside but when you walk in you will be amazed by all the books lined up against the wall, the restaurant tables overlooking the water and best of all, the lotus in the middle!

It’s really really cosy in here and therefore one of the good things to do in Istanbul in Winter! Whether you get a drink or food, be sure to schedule some relaxed time here reading and taking in the relaxed surroundings in these hidden gems of Istanbul.

Related Post: 10 Places to visit in Uskudar on the Asian side of Istanbul!

Nevmekan Sahil, Istanbul Hidden Gems
This is the cafe inside Nevmekan Sahil, talk about a top hidden gem in Istanbul!

7. Eyup Sultan Mosque

For special places in Istanbul to visit, Eyup Sultan Mosque is at the top of the list. Muslim tourists to Istanbul will know the mosque in Eyup as one of the must-visit places in Istanbul because it is very important in Islamic history and Eyup is said to be the most religious area of Istanbul.

I still recommend Eyup as one of the Istanbul hidden gems to visit for non-Muslims too if you want to see an area of Istanbul that you probably have heard of or seen before!

The mosque itself is very impressive and there are lots of shops and streets to walk around near it, there’s also Pierre Loti hill which is number 8 in this secret spots in Istanbul list!

Eyup mosque from outside, Istanbul Hidden Gems
Eyup Sultan Mosque is one of the special places in Istanbul to visit!

8. Pierre Loti Hill

Pierre Loti Hill is one of the places to visit in Istanbul if you want to go somewhere a bit different and see a unique Istanbul viewpoint!

Located close to Eyup Sultan Mosque you can walk up a hill through a cemetery to get to the top or you can take the cable car which you pay for using your Istanbulkart.

Once at the top, there is a viewing platform looking over the Golden Horn of Istanbul. The reason why this Istanbul viewpoint feels unique is that usually in Istanbul you are looking over Europe and Asia, however here the land is split by water but both sides are Europe!

Pierre Loti Hill Cafe is also at the top and is a beautiful cafe in Istanbul. There is a lot of outdoor seating with the same view as the viewing platform so be sure to leave enough time to enjoy a tea and cake up here and enjoy being one of the few tourists in Istanbul to know about this Istanbul hidden gem!

Pierre Loti Hill view at sunset, istanbul hidden gems
Pierre Loti Hill Viewpoint!

9. Dolmabahce Palace

You have probably heard of Topkapi Palace, this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul, and it is amazing to visit however it gets very busy and if you have been before, you might not need to go again!

A different palace you can visit is Dolmabahce. This is on my list of Istanbul hidden gems because it is located in Beşiktaş which is still very central but unless you go looking for it, you won’t stumble across it as a tourist in Istanbul.

Dolmabahce Palace is really impressive, it is built on the edge of the Bosphorus and commissioned in 1843. In order to see the Palace, you have to buy a ticket and go on a guided tour which runs at regular times. You’ll get to see the impressive gardens and extravagant inside of the palace. This is easily one of the special things to do in Istanbul!

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul Hidden Gems

Have you booked your flight to Istanbul yet??

I use Skyscanner to book all of my flights! I’m a huge fan of Skyscanner because I love how easy it is to compare different dates and routes to help me find the best flight at the best price! Open Skyscanner by clicking here and search for the best flights as you read this post.

10. Ataturk Arboretumu

If you fancy getting out of the city and into nature, I have the park for you! Ataturk Arboretumu is a park near Istanbul which is very popular with locals but luckily it is easy to visit using public transport by metro and bus.

I visited Ataturk Park in autumn and it was simply gorgeous because of the golden leaves and colours. I can imagine it is also beautiful in spring and summer and not that many other tourists know about it which is why it’s on my list of Istanbul hidden gems!

This park is ticketed and although it is cheap to visit, it does have opening and closing times so be sure to check these before visiting if you are looking for parks near Istanbul to visit!

Ataturk Arboretumu park and lake in autumn sunshine, Istanbul Hidden Gems

I hope you enjoy these Istanbul hidden gems and see a new side of the city!

Saturday 11th of June 2022

I had no idea Instanbul was such a beautiful city! It looks so romantic and so decorated, absolutely stunning. I would love to visit one day, the culture and architecture of the city are so intriguing!