Istanbul has a very diverse culture with a history dating back thousands of years. There is a lively life in Istanbul, one of the largest metropolises in the world. The best photo spots in Istanbul offer reflections of the city’s deep-rooted history and energy.
As a local tour guide born and raised in Istanbul, I also enjoy taking pictures in the city. Most of these photos are in the articles on this site and on the Instagram page of Istanbul Clues.
As a professional guide, I know the city’s neighborhoods, streets and museums well and photograph them as an amateur. In this article, you can find the 10 best Instagrammable places in Istanbul.
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10 Best Photo Spots in Istanbul 2023
The best photo spots in Istanbul are located in Sultanahmet (OldCity), Beyoglu (aka Taksim), Besiktas and Kadikoy (Asian Side). These are also the most touristic districts of Istanbul.
In addition to the photo places in this article, you can also consider the Bosphorus tour. Because going on a Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul will offer you the most beautiful panoramic photos you can take during your trip.
Beyoglu is a neighborhood that gained prominence during Ottoman Empire’s last years. Beyoglu became the most popular neighborhood of the city in the 19th century as the Levantines (Europeans who did business in the East) and non-Muslim citizens of the Ottoman Empire flocked to the area. Istiklal Avenue was known as Grand Rue de Pera among foreigners and, suddenly, it became the shining star of the city.
Europeans would begin their journey by the Orient Express at Paris to discover the mysteries of the East and end up at Istanbul as the last stop and they mostly stayed at Beyoglu area during their stay in Istanbul.
Istanbul lost favor in the eye of Europeans after it became an Ottoman city in the 15th century. However, from the 19th century onwards, the Westerners rediscovered the beauties of Istanbul. Naturally, the architecture in this area was heavily influenced by the Western architecture due to the interest from the Europeans. Therefore, Beyoglu reminds its visitors of cities like Prague and Paris with its architecture.
The best spots to take photos at Beyoglu are Istiklal Street, Mesrutiyet Street (Pera), Galata Tower and adjacent Galata Square. No doubt, secret treasures are hidden on the back streets of Beyoglu that are not noticed at first. Tarlabasi, Cihangir, Tophane, Karakoy and Cukurcuma districts at Beyoglu are also worth visiting to take amazing photos.
2. Galata Tower
During the Byzantine Empire in Istanbul, valuable fabrics and food imported from Silky Road would be collected at Constantinople’s Port. The task to export these materials was the duty of the trader colonies known as Genoese and Venetians. Despite being Catholics, Italian merchants didn’t have a problem living in Constantinople that was the center of Orthodox Christians back then. It was due to the potential profit they would make in Constantinople.
After the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Empire, the trade system that was established ages ago wasn’t changed at all. Moreover, Mehmed The Conqueror granted privileges to these colonies and made sure that the trade continue the same way before.
The Genoese had a more dominant role than the Venetians. They had a say in trade and this enabled them to gain more lands and influence over Istanbul. Therefore, they built such structures as Yoros Fortress and Galata Tower at Beyoglu.
Galata Tower is a museum today. Its visitors can enjoy a majestic view of Istanbul on the top floor of the tower. The view of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn is totally mesmerizing. However, it’s especially great to enjoy the view of the Historical Peninsula of Istanbul from Galata Tower.
Galata Tower has been renovated in the last few years and reopened as a magnificent museum. The tower is among the best photo spots in Istanbul in 2023.
3. Istiklal Street
Church of St. Anthony of Padua is at Istiklal Street between Galatasaray High School and Tunnel Square. When you enter the yard of this beautiful church, you instantly feel like you are at Venice. As I mentioned formerly, the Catholic merchants from Italy played an important role in the city beginning from the Byzantine Empire era and their effect can still be seen today.
Arab Mosque at Karakoy was another Catholic church built by these merchants. However, the Levantines held Church of St. Anthony of Padua in higher esteem and they claimed the history of the church dated back to 1200s, until the Latin Invasion of Constantinople.
The yard of the church feels like heaven for anyone who wants to get away from the hectic and busy life at Istiklal Street. You can simply take a break here by enjoying the fancy windows above that reminds you of Venice.
The interior of the church doesn’t really reflect its historical importance, as it was rebuilt in the 20th century. However, the atmosphere inside is still impressive.
Istiklal Street is the best for street photography in Istanbul. Strolling thorugh the most popular pedestrian street, help you discover some best photo spots in istanbul.
4. Fener and Balat
Fener and Balat attract more and more tourists in recent years. With their bay windows and historical buildings, these neighborhoods offer a unique chance to learn more about Ottoman Istanbul.
You can almost feel the life here during the Ottoman era when Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together in harmony.
The most striking thing to see at Fener is Phanar Greek Orthodox College. This 19th Century structure stands out with its unique design thanks to the red bricks used for its construction
Apart from Phanar Greek Orthodox College, buildings like Patriarchal Church of St George and Bulgarian St. Stephen Church also appeal to photographers.
Fener is also famous for its colorful old houses. These houses can be seen in the Kiremit Street of Fener Neighborhood. This street is very near to Greek Orthodox College (locally known as Fener Rum Lisesi).
Houses painted in pastel colors meet you when you walk on the side streets of Balat. These houses and cobblestone pavements reflect the lifestyle of Turkish and Greek residents and they also provide amazing scenery for photographers.
The colorful houses of Balat Neighborhood is also as famous as Fener’s. You can find these beautiful houses in Merdivenli Yokus Street. These houses are very near to Ahrida Synagogue.
5. Yildiz Park
Yildiz Park is a sweet escape in a mega city like Istanbul. It is located on the European side of Istanbul, on Ciragan Avenue that lies between Besiktas and Ortakoy. The park is on a 46-hectare field and it’s one of the ideal places in Istanbul to get away from the daily worries and the busy life in Istanbul.
Yildiz Park includes various types of trees and a bunch of ponds where you can enjoy nature and be away from the concrete jungle of Istanbul temporarily. In my opinion, it’s equally important to have a good time to take good photos. If you spend a quality time at any place, this good vibe is reflected in the photos you take.
Yildiz Palace, built in the late period of Ottoman Empire, is also in Yildiz Park. This palace also includes Mabeyn Pavillion, Sale Pavillion and Malta Pavillion inside and its exterior side offers a good opportunity for photographers. However, it’s forbidden to take photos inside the palace.
6. Fenerbahce Park
Fenerbahce Park is located at Kadikoy and it’s actually a small island connected to the mainland. Fenerbahce Park is easily accessible by a bridge at Fenerbahce district of Kadikoy.
Fenerbahce Park is a peaceful place thanks to its flowers and trees. There are a couple of food stalls and a nostalgic cafe named Cafe Romantika inside the park. There are also different types and colors of cats in the park. These cute cats are the hosts of this park and they will let you be their guest in exchange for a little cat food.
Fenerbahce Park is a great place to take photos of its green grass, flowers, and tulips in spring. Moreover, there are tons of objects to use as a decor when you take your photos. Fenerbahce Park also offers best photo opportunities in Istanbul for wedding photos.
7. Gulhane Park
You can easily access Gulhane Park by following the tramline from Sultanahmet to Gulhane. When you enter the wall gate of Gulhane, the road is divided into two. The road to the left leads to Gulhane Park directly, while the road to the right leads you to Istanbul Archeological Museums and Topkapi Palace.
The reason why this park is named Gulhane Park is that there are rose gardens inside the park. (Gul means rose in Turkish) The other name of the park is Sarayburnu Park.
The best time to visit this park is the end of March and the beginning of April, which is the Tulip Festival in Istanbul. During these dates, the big park at Sultanahmet Square, the gardens of Topkapi Palace and Gulhane Park are filled with colorful tulips. It then becomes one of the best Istanbul photo places.
8. Ortakoy Square
Ortakoy Neighborhood is known for Ortakoy Square and Ortakoy Mosque. It won’t be wrong to say Ortakoy is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Istanbul. When you think about the most instagrammable places in istanbul, the Ortakoy Mosque and the Bosphorus comes to anyone’s mind.
One of the best things about visiting Ortakoy is that it gives you an opportunity to experience various things at the same time. Ortakoy not only offers majestic scene but also offers lots of restaurants to enjoy food while you enjoy its beautiful atmosphere. Moreover, Ortakoy is one of the best starting points for taking a walk in Istanbul. It’s quite refreshing to take a walk from Ortakoy to Arnavutkoy and Bebek that would end at Rumeli Fortress.
You can visit Ortakoy for a nice breakfast or lunch. After you spend a good time at cafes of the neighborhood, you can take tons of photos at the square and visit the most beautiful mosque of the Ottoman era that has traces of 19th century Baroque and Neo-Classical elements.
Balyan Family, who had members of famous Ottoman architects of their time, built Ortakoy Mosque. This same family built Beylerbeyi Palace and Dolmabahce Palace as well. Mimar Sinan is the architect that contributed the most to the architecture of Istanbul. Nikogos and Garabet Balyan followed Mimar Sinan in terms of the number of works they created.
9. Pierre Loti Hill
As I mentioned formerly, the beauty of Istanbul drew a lot of attention from Europeans during the Ottoman era. Europeans, who came to Istanbul for business or official purposes, bought houses at the Bosphorus, Beyoglu or Historical Peninsula and settled down in Istanbul. One of the people who were attracted by the beauty of Istanbul was a famous poet and author Pierre Loti.
The poet was inspired by the beautiful scenery at Istanbul heavily and created his best works in this city. When he put down his works on paper, he would come to the hill, known as Pierre Loti Hill today. The poet would always speak so highly of Istanbul and spend a lot of time on this hill, so much so that, the hill was named after him.
This hill is still one of the best Istanbul sunrise spot and a place to be inspired by the majestic view of Istanbul. You are advised to drink your tea on this hill and take lots of photos. The hill is accessible by a cable car.
10. Camlica Hill
Camlica Hill is located on the Asian side of Istanbul, at Uskudar district and it’s divided into two as Little Camlica Hill (228 meters) and Big Camlica Hill (262 meters)
Due to its commanding location, it’s one of the best photo spots in istanbul. Many domestic and foreign tourists know the fame of this hill and they include this hill in their list to visit at Istanbul.
One of the things that attract tourists from abroad is that Istanbul connects two continents. However, most of the historical attractions of Istanbul are located on the European side. Many tourists who buy Historical Peninsula and Beyoglu tour packages also don’t neglect to have memories on the Asian side. Therefore, many of them go to the Asian side and visit Camlica Hill by their own means.
When you look at the view below, you will realize why its visitors are charmed by Camlica Hill. The best place to take a panoramic photo of Istanbul city.
Best Photo Spots in Istanbul By Serhat Engul