Istanbul is one of the liveliest cities in the world that is on almost everyone’s bucket list. From grandeur palaces to historic attractions to colorful streets, Istanbul has it all. No visit to Istanbul is complete without strolling through its iconic Istiklal Street or Istiklal Avenue which is visited by around 3 million people every day.
Istiklal Street in Istanbul is Turkey’s most famous street featuring hundreds of eating places, historic landmarks, bars, churches, and museums. The most recognized part of Istiklal Street is its red tram that is running every day. The street starts from Taksim Square which features the Monument of the Republic.
Things to Do on Istiklal Street
Though there are hundreds of things to do on Istiklal Street, here are the top 10 things to do in Istiklal street :
1. Ride the Red Tram On Istiklal Street
Any visit to Istiklal Avenue is not completed until you ride on its famous historic tram. This traditional red tram connects Taksim Square with Tunnel Square. If walking through the street is not your thing, get into this tram which carries over 5000 passengers every day. You can also ride one way and get back to Taksim on your feet. This will let you explore the shops and other famous attractions along the way.
2. Visit St. Anthony of Padua Church
There are a few churches on Istiklal Street but the most famous one is St. Anthony of Padua Church. The impressive neo-gothic architecture of the church is worth seeing if you are in Istiklal. At the entrance of the church, there is a statue of Pope John XXII who preached for around 10 years in this church.
3. What To Shop on Istiklal Street?
Whether you want to buy local souvenirs or get something from high-end brands, Istiklal Street has it all. There are thousands of shops featuring almost all kinds of products including clothing, accessory, cosmetics, and technology products. Make sure to buy some locally made products from one of the shops on Istiklal.
4. Taste Turkish Delights
Istiklal Street has undoubtedly the best Turkish delight in town. You’ll find many shops selling Turkish delights. Make sure to buy a selection of different kinds of tasty delights and also take some back home for your friends and family. In fact, some people might actually enjoy something edible instead of a “touristy” souvenir.
5. Witness Beautiful Street Art
Spend some time exploring the street art of Istiklal. You’ll find many streets here full of art and graffiti. Though you can spot them everywhere, the most famous street art can be found at Nur-i-Ziya Street where buildings are covered with unique graffiti patterns.
6. Watch Sema Ceremony at Whirling Dervish Museum
You haven’t really explored Turkey if you haven’t watched Mevlevi Sema ceremony by whirling dervishes. The Mevlevi Museum in Istiklal Avenue not only features the clothes, books, and instruments belonging to dervishes, but they also showcase the Sema ceremony on specific days. Make sure to check the timings before you decide to visit.
7. Enjoy Street Food
Though you’ll find street food on almost every corner in Istanbul, Istiklal Street is the best place to enjoy everything under one roof. From corns to roasted chestnut to simit, Istiklal Street has it all. Make sure to try the famous ‘midye dolma’ which is a mussel on the half shell mixed with rice.
8. Get Your Hands on Iskender Kebap
Get your hands, well, actually your mouth on this incredible Turkish meal! Iskender Kebap is one of the most famous meat dishes of Turkey. It was named after its inventor ‘Iskender Efendi’ from Bursa. Iskender Kebap consists of think pieces of meat topped with spicy tomato sauce and served with yogurt. When you are in Istiklal Street, make sure to eat Iskender Kebap from Beyoğlu Halk Döner.
9. Watch Street Performances
It’s rare that you visit Istiklal Street and do not find any street performers. Enjoy the lovely melodies by the talented musicians. There is no specific place for these performers. Consequently, you can find them randomly at any corner of Istiklal. Moreover, if you’re musically inclined, the street performers might even let you sit in with them.
10. Nightlife at Istiklal Street
Istiklal Street is famous for its exotic nightlife. At night time, you can hear almost every type of music coming out of bars and clubs. With this in mind, there are plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. Some of the bars are specifically designed for students. Find a spot that suits your taste and enjoy your night!
Istiklal Street Best Place in Istunbul
These were just a few things to enjoy on interesting Istiklal Street. During my 6 weeks of stay in Istanbul, I went to this street every single day, and believe me; I was not able to explore all of it. There are still many places that I missed but, I’ll definitely go back again to explore them.
Read our complete guide to another unique attraction of Istanbul, ‘Topkapi Palace.’
Why is Istiklal street famous?
Istanbul’s most famous pedestrian street is the Istiklal Street. It was previously known as Meclis-i Mebusan, the parliament of the Ottoman Empire. It was a road used by the Ottoman parliamentarians to travel to the parliament hall. After the last parliament was closed in 1876, the street was used for public transportation. During the 19th century, the street was used for horse-drawn carriages. Today it is still a famous pedestrian street in Istanbul.
What is the timing of Istiklal Street?
The timing of Istiklal Street is the same all year around. Istiklal Street is the main shopping district in Istanbul. It is the most famous pedestrian street of the Turkey. It is open every day, and the timings are 10:00 to 20:00.
What is the main shopping street in Istanbul?
The Main shopping street in Istanbul is Istiklal street. It is a long street consisting of shopping malls, shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. This street is a popular place for visitors to go shopping and have a great time, since there is a wide variety of places to eat and shop. The main attractions are the various art nouveau architecture, countless coffee shops, antique stores, small restaurants and cafes. There are also lots of theaters, cinemas and art galleries in Istiklal avenue.