Wondering where are the best photo spots in Istanbul? You are in the right place! I will help you discover the most beautiful places in Istanbul and make sure you have the best photos to share on your Instagram account.
In this article, you will find exact locations, the best time to take visit these places, what equipment to use, and many more photography tips. We will include the best rooftop spots, restaurants with the best views, museums, mosques, sunset spots, hidden gems, and even a photo studio.
My guide of the best photo spots in Istanbul is going to ensure that you don’t miss a single photo opportunity during your visit!
*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Important things to know before visiting Istanbul
Before we dive in, let me give you this short list of the best tours that include some of the best photo spots in Istanbul.
The most popular tours in Istanbul:
- 🚢 Experience the stunning beauty of Istanbul at sunset on a Bosphorus cruise
- 🚶 Explore the top attractions in Sultanahmet (the old city) on a full-day tour with a knowledgeable guide
- 🍲 Discover Istanbul’s European and Asian sides—and taste a range of delectable Turkish delicacies on this full-day, small-group tour
- 💆 Enjoy a Turkish bath in true Ottoman style when you book this private package to a 600-year-old hammam designed by the architect who built the Topkapi Palace
- 🕌 Prepare to be awed by Istanbul’s magnificent architecture, rich history, and eclectic bazaars as you discover the unmissable highlights of the Old City on this 1-, 2-, or 3-day private tour
Where to stay in Istanbul?
Istanbul is a very big city, so you will have to choose strategically your base to optimize your time. My recommendations are to choose a hotel somewhere near Galata Tower or the Grand Bazaar. This way you will be able to walk to most of the sights and have public transport next to you. I prepared for you a list of the best hotels to explore the best photo spots in Istanbul.
I am sure that Four Seasons doesn’t need an introduction, but this is hands down the best luxury hotel in Istanbul. This hotel is decorated in a Turkish theme with neoclassical details, and the courtyard garden is filled with Turkish art and Ottoman period features.
You can spoil yourself with their spa, have a drink with a stunning view from their rooftop bar, or try the chef’s specialties in their restaurant.
UNIQUE: AJWA Sultanahmet
One night I went to a restaurant next to this fantastic hotel and I was immediately impressed by the details of the main door. So I made my research and I discover that this hotel has a fantastic restaurant and a unique design for your Turkish holiday.
This is probably one of the most unique hotels in Istanbul and it offers everything that a sultan might want and even more. It is basically like spending a night in a museum.
MID-RANGE: İstasyon Hotel
Talking about the mid-range hotels in Istanbul, İstasyon Hotel is one of the best options. The rooms are finely decorated, and you can enjoy a coffee or a water pipe on the panoramic terrace. Breakfast is another treat for the guests of the İstasyon Hotel.
The location is convenient as it is 1 km from Topkapi Palace and 600 meters from the Spice Bazaar.
AFFORDABLE: Atlantis Royal Hotel
Atlantis Royal Hotel looks far from affordable, however, the prices are budget-friendly. It has lovely decorations, it is conveniently located, and has a great staff. The place is only 1 km away from the Blue Mosque and offers WiFi, flat-screen tv, air conditioning, and all the comfort you might need.
For all these reasons, the Atlantis Royal Hotel is one of the best affordable hotels in Istanbul.
Looking for a hotel with the best views in Istanbul? You will love this article! And you will be able to snap some unique Istanbul photos right from your hotel room.
Best photo spots in Istanbul
This was the place that I wanted to shoot the most in Istanbul. And do you know what? It didn’t disappoint. Now I can say that it is one of the best photo spots in Istanbul. Beautiful Mosque with 15 July Martyrs Bridge and Bosphorus in the backdrop – a true pearl of Istanbul.
This Mosque is located far away from other attractions, so you will have to use public transport or a taxi to get there. I don’t advise staying in this area, but I strongly advise waking up early for a sunrise mission! Also, make sure you wear something colorful, avoid beige colors because you will get lost in the photo.
If you have the time, make sure you visit Mosque inside (it should open at 10 am) and go to The House Cafe for another beautiful perspective on the Ortaköy Mosque.
I will add the exact location on Google Maps for every location – just click on the link to find it.
Equipment: For my photos, I used a 35 mm lens and I think it is the best option. If you want a similar photo, you will not have a lot of space to use a zoom lens. While wide-angle lenses would make the Mosque look smaller and insignificant.
Best time: You have to be ready for a sunrise mission because this is a very popular spot. In winter you can see the sunset behind the mosque and it looks amazing in the photos.
Seven Hills is hands down the most Instagrammable restaurant in Istanbul. From my experience, restaurants like this usually serve bad food, but it is not the case with Seven Hills.
Their breakfast menu is amazing, the staff is very welcoming and you will have a lot of time to take your photos as well. The terrace is basically built in 2 parts – for eating and for taking photos, so this way you don’t bother customers that are there to eat.
Kill two birds with one stone – have a typical Turkish breakfast and take the best photos with Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Equipment: I advise you to use the zoom lens, but nothing too extreme. 50 mm is perfect to create a cool effect, yet you will have enough space on the terrace to take your photos.
Best time: It opens at 8.30 am and I think it is the best time during fall, winter, and spring. In summer sunrise is earlier, so come for sunset instead.
The Süleymaniye crowns one of İstanbul’s seven hills and dominates the Golden Horn, providing a landmark for the entire city. Though it’s not the largest of the Ottoman mosques, it is certainly one of the grandest and most beautiful.
This makes it one of the best photo spots in Istanbul. I noticed that there were not many people visiting this gem, so this means that you don’t have to worry about crowds and people in your photos. Yes, a couple of group tours, but with a bit of patience, you can get that perfect travel photo.
Make sure you visit inside and keep the dress code appropriate!Book your tour to Suleymaniye Mosque here
Equipment: Bring your wide-angle lens to capture all the magic. I used 14mm for my photos.
Best time: You can get great photos any time of the day, no need to wake up early. Maybe avoid midday, because the sun gets too harsh around this time. Avoid Fridays, according to Muslims Friday is considered the holiest day of the week, so that’s when mosques are filled with prayers.
Blue Mosque is probably the highlight of Istanbul, but it has been under construction for a few years and there is no information about the end date. I visited at the beginning of 2022 and I can confirm that they were nowhere near the finish.
But Blue Mosque is stunning from the outside as well, so you can still photograph it from other places. As discussed Seven Hills is one of these places.
My favorite photo spot was near Hagia Sophia. If you have a zoom lens, you can create a unique photo… arrive at the end of the park (near Hagia Sophia) and take a photo on the left side of the park. I used a 100 mm lens and it was perfect for the distance, but you can go a bit closer to Blue Mosque and use even 50 mm. Might be less impressive with a smaller zoom, but still beautiful.
Equipment: I used a 100 mm lens, but you can do a good job with 50 mm as well. I personally don’t think you should use a wide-angle lens for this location.
Best time: The square between Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque is very busy, so I advise you to come early. Sunrise would be an ideal time! But both of these mosques open around 9 am, so at 8 am you can still take a good photo without crowds around. Avoid Fridays, according to Muslims Friday is considered the holiest day of the week, so that’s when mosques are filled with prayers.
Topkapi Palace Museum
Set on top of the most visible hill of Istanbul, Topkapi Palace is the symbol of the city. Visiting Topkapi Palace can take you 3-5 hours and there are many interesting things to see, but it also happens to be a beautiful location for your photos from Istanbul.
You don’t need my help to find the best spots here, but I highly advise you to buy a ticket with Harem included. I personally think it was the most beautiful part of this Palace.
The entrance fee is 200TL (13EUR) and an additional 100TL (6,50EUR) for Harem, but once again, you can’t miss this location when visiting Istanbul. It is open from 10 am until 4 pm and closed on Tuesdays.
Equipment: I used a wide-angle lens for all my photos. Anything more than 35 mm would be too much because the rooms are small and you want to make sure you capture it all.
Best time: I advise you to be at the entrance at 10 am and visit on the weekday if possible. I have to say that the palace is so huge that with a bit of patience, you can get photos without many people around. Also, a great option for a rainy day.
In case you don’t have a lot of time to take photos and the weather is not the best, you can count on Taht Istanbul. It is a beautiful photo studio where you can create iconic photos from Istanbul.
The concept changes all the time, but you have access to 4 locations. You can come with your own equipment or book a professional photoshoot. Here you can find the prices for a professional photo shoot, but if you choose to come with your own equipment, you have to pay around 20EUR per person – the photographer is free of charge.
You can also rent a traditional costume and this was the main reason why I wanted to visit this studio. It will cost you 15EUR more.
Equipment: The photo studio has great light, so you don’t need fancy equipment to get great results. iPhone can do a great job! I used a 35 mm lens and a 14mm lens for the lamp room.
Best time: The studio opens at 8.30 am and that is the best time. From what I have seen, it gets very busy around 11 am, so if you can’t make it to opening time, got around 4 pm. 1 hour is enough to take all the photos.
When coming to Istanbul, I wanted to visit Basilica Cistern, however, turns out that it is temporarily closed. Theodosius Cistern is a great alternative and they make a light show inside.
When I bought my ticket for Theodosius Cistern, I didn’t plan to take photos, however, once the show was over, the place was almost empty and I decided to give it a try. If you ask me, it is beautiful and certainly an Instagram-worthy spot.
Keep in mind that the entrance fee is 100TL (6.50EUR) and the light show starts 15 minutes after they let you in. You can buy tickets any time, but they let you in every hour – starting from 9 am. The show takes around 15-20 minutes and shortly after everyone leaves.
Equipment: Low light setting, so bring the lens with a small aperture. Make sure you use ISO.
Best time: Anytime, but keep in mind that visitors are taken in every hour. Make sure you come 10 minutes before but don’t come at 9.15 or 9.30, you will have to wait until 10.
Mihrişah Cafe Restaurant
While visiting Süleymaniye mosque, I noticed a beautiful rooftop bar and you could see that it has a wonderful view on the mosque. It had decent reviews on Google maps, so we decided to give it a try.
Once you enter the building, it doesn’t look the best, but the rooftop terrace is nice and the view is breathtaking. I advise you to come here for tea, breakfast or maybe some snacks. The main dishes were very average.
The design reminds me of Capadoccia! I can say that this is one of the coolest places in Istanbul and a perfect photo spot!
Equipment: I used a wide-angle lens because there is not much space to capture the entire mosque.
Best time: Morning is the best time because it is hard to take good photos when the sun gets harsh. Perfect stop before visiting Süleymaniye mosque. I don’t think it’s a popular place, so not many people around.
The Hagia Sophia is an enormous architectural marvel in Istanbul, however, it is hard to capture this massive gem. I have to say that the inside is breathtaking, but it is always full of people.
It opens at 10 am (the time is wrong on Google) and apparently, there is no way to visit it before opening. If you want to capture the inside of the mosque, try to visit before closing time. Make sure you respect the dress code.
I still think that the best view is from the Seven Hills rooftop terrace, but you can try to find some photo spots in Sultan Ahmet Park.Book your tickets to The Hagia Sophia
Equipment: You will need something wide to capture all the beauty inside. I used 14mm for this photo.
Best time: I doubt that you will ever find it empty, but you can try to visit before closing time. Avoid Fridays, according to Muslims Friday is considered the holiest day of the week, so that’s when mosques are filled with prayers.
I’m sure you have seen beautiful photos from Istambul with red trams, but I think it often gets neglected.
Umbrella Street is one of the best photo spots in Istanbul, so make sure you add it to your itinerary. It is a tiny street, so it’s going to be a quick stop.
Umbrella Street is located next to the Ben’den Karaköy bar. You can also sit down and order a drink to get some unique shots with this cute location. You will find the exact location if you click on the link below.
Equipment: The street is tiny, so you can use anything from wide-angle to 35mm. I used 35mm and a small f-stop because there were some construction works and trucks that I wanted to avoid.
Best time: Since you can’t stay there for hours, you can visit anytime. You might see some people, but just be patient and wait for your turn.
Barnathan Cafe & Brasserie
Probably the best cafe with a view of Galata Tower. The rooftop of Barnathan Cafe & Brasserie is a perfect place for a quick photoshoot!
Also, the food was delicious and the prices are very affordable. We came here for lunch, but couldn’t take any photos, because it was too crowded and the lights were too harsh. Since the food was good, we decided to come back another time for breakfast.
It is a hotel, so Barnathan Cafe & Brasserie offers breakfast to hotel guests, but anyone can join and enjoy the breakfast buffet.
Equipment: Not much space for a zoom lens and no need to use a wide-angle. Anything between 24mm to 35mm would be great.
Best time: Breakfast is served until midday. Right after that, it gets extremely crowded, but the lights are bad anyway. So come for breakfast, enjoy their buffet, and get your perfect photo with Galata Tower.
Balat is an area of Istanbul and it is filled with multiple photo spots, which makes it a perfect place for a photo shoot in Istanbul. It is a down-to-earth neighborhood of narrow cobbled streets and colorful houses, where hip cafes and cutting-edge galleries sit next to old-school neighborhood grocers.
I highly advise you to visit Balat, grab pomegranate juice from a local bar, and just get lost in the cute streets.
Make sure you include Merdivenli Yokuş Evleri, colorful stairs near İncir ağacı kahvesi, Dimitrie Cantemir Museum Cafe, Fener Greek High School, and find famous colorful houses of Balat – exact location below. You can explore this place by joining this walking tour with professional guides.
Location: 2WHX+R5 Fatih, İstanbul, Turkey
Equipment: No need for a specific lens, 35mm can be used in most places.
Best time: We visited Balat in the afternoon and it was busy, so had to wait to avoid people in my photos. If you have the opportunity, visit Balat in the morning.
The Istanbul nostalgic tramways
I’m sure you have seen beautiful photos from Istanbul with red trams, but I still think it is an underrated photo spot.
Make sure that you take a ride on this nostalgic tramway and experience a voyage in the past. There is another tram on the Asian side, but the one from Taksim is easier to reach and more popular.
Below I will add the best location for a photo with a tram. You can capture it on the go, but you will have to be quick and there will be people doing the same. This is the final destination where it stops for some time. The other destination is Taksim Square, but it is way too crowded and messy.
Equipment: Anything between 35mm and 50mm will give you wonderful results. If you want to take a photo of the tram (without yourself in the photo), you can try to play with a zoom lens.
Best time: Tram is located on the shopping street, so it is busy most of the time, but with a bit of patience, you can get a beautiful postcard with a local gem.
Galata Tower is one of the best photo spots in Istanbul, but where to find the perfect place to capture it? Barnathan Cafe & Brasserie was a great option for a rooftop photoshoot, but there is another spot that is available to everyone.
And it is near a cafe called Rose Papillon – many people take photos from this cafe, but reviews didn’t convince me. Once again, depends on your equipment, but if you have the zoom lens, make sure you go to the end of the street and play with the zoom.
Equipment: This street is very long so you can use anything from 14mm to 150mm. Looks cooler with a zoom, but it is a busy street, so harder to cut out the crowds. I choose 50mm, so something in the middle.
Best time: You will need to wake up early because the street is busy most of the time. You can also use a small f-stop on your lens, so the focus is on you.
Istanbul from the boat
Istanbul from the boat is another great opportunity to take beautiful photos and capture the magic of the city.
You can always rent your private boat trip on places like Airbnb and GetYourGuide, but we found a wonderful bout tour by accident and loved every moment of it. The price is 25TL (1.60EUR) per person and the boat tour lasts 1.5h. And do you know what is the best part? You see all the highlights of Bosfor.
You can always rent your private boat trip on places like Airbnb and GetYourGuide.
Location: Hobyar, 34112 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Equipment: A zoom lens can do wonders and capture some of the main attractions in Istanbul, but if you want to take photos with yourself, you will need to use 35mm and wait until the boat is closer to the coastline.
Best time: No doubt, sunset time!
Bonus location – Grand Bazaar or Spice Bazaar?
I’m sure that you will see Grand Bazaar in every photo guide of Istanbul, but I don’t think it is a good photo spot. First of all, it is messy and crowded all the time. Second, the most beautiful places charge you per photo and that’s not something that I want to support. In general, I have to say that Grand Bazaar filled with fake designer stuff was disappointing. Why don’t you visit Mısır Çarşısı (Spice Bazaar) instead? Way more authentic!
Further reading for Turkey
This is the end of the best photo spots in Istanbul and I am sure you are impatient to hit the road. Remember to wander around and find some unique angles even in the most popular spots.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.