Five off the beaten track places in Istanbul you shouldn’t miss

Estimated read time 3 min read

Istanbul, the cultural and economic hub of Turkey, is a city that is full of life and has a rich history dating back centuries. While there are many well-known places to visit in Istanbul, there are also many off the beaten track places that are worth visiting. In this article, we will explore five of these hidden gems that you shouldn’t miss.

  1. Balat

Located on the European side of Istanbul, Balat is a neighborhood that is steeped in history and culture. Once a center of Jewish life in Istanbul, today Balat is a melting pot of cultures and religions. The narrow streets and colorful houses make it a great place to explore on foot. Here, you can find hidden courtyards and picturesque churches, synagogues and mosques.

  1. Kariye Museum

Formerly known as the Church of St. Savior in Chora, the Kariye Museum showcases some of the finest mosaics and frescoes in Istanbul. It is not as well-known as the iconic Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, but it is definitely worth a visit. The interior decorations of the museum showcase the story of Christ and the Virgin Mary, and they are truly stunning. This Byzantine gem dates back to the 4th century and it is considered one of the best preserved examples of Byzantine church decoration.

  1. Emirgan Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of Istanbul for a moment by visiting Emirgan Park, a beautiful oasis in the heart of the city. Here you can relax amidst the serene surroundings of lush greenery and colorful flowers. Emirgan Park is also home to an Ottoman mansion which now is a café where you can enjoy a cup of Turkish tea while taking in the breathtaking view of the Bosphorus.

  1. Princes’ Islands

The Princes’ Islands are a group of nine small islands located off the coast of Istanbul. They are a perfect retreat from the city, offering beautiful beaches and a peaceful atmosphere. You can also rent a bicycle or a horse-drawn carriage to explore the islands, where there is hardly a car in sight.

  1. Eyup District

Located on the Golden Horn, Eyup District is a historical and religious center of Istanbul. Here, you can find the Eyup Sultan Mosque, which is the first mosque built after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. The area is also home to numerous cafes, food stands and shops, making it a great place to experience Turkish culture and enjoy some traditional cuisine.


Istanbul is a city full of wonders, but sometimes it’s the hidden gems that offer the most memorable experiences. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, these off the beaten track places in Istanbul have something for everyone. Balat, the Kariye Museum, Emirgan Park, Princes’ Islands, and Eyup District are all unique and beautiful places that should not be overlooked. So, next time you find yourself in Istanbul, make sure to venture beyond the typical tourist destinations and discover the hidden treasures waiting to be explored.

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