Istanbul is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and unique cities in the world, stealing the hearts of anyone who’s come to visit.
It has an abundance of rich history, diverse cultural influences and countless stunning buildings and colourful streets that make some of the best photo spots in Istanbul.
The former capital of culture is a true photographer’s dream and definitely a place worth packing your camera for (or phone, of course!).
While you can easily fill your memory cards just by walking around the city, in this guide I’m sharing with you the 9 most Instagrammable places in Istanbul that make for the best photos from your trip to Istanbul!
Can’t read now? Save this post for later!
Prepare for your trip to Istanbul
🏡 Book your accommodation in advance – find the best hotel deals for Istanbul here.
🗺️ Find the best tours in Istanbul – book your adventures in Istanbul in advance.
🚌 Get an Istanbul tourist pass – Get your Istanbul tourist pass here giving you hassle-free access to 100+ attractions and tours.
☂️ Travel Insurance – make sure you’re covered before your trip! I always use SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance which is super affordable and flexible.
💳 Travel cards – Get a Wise or Revolut bank cards to avoid overseas charges and save money on your travels.
The Best Photo Spots in Istanbul:
1. Balat neighbourhood
A little more under the radar compared to other famous photo spots in Istanbul, Balat’s colourful streets and cute cafes make for a beautiful backdrop for your Istanbul photos.
The former Jewish neighbourhood boasts with history and old historical houses, but the centrepiece here and the best photo spots in Balat are the colourful houses on Kiremit Street.
While the spot is not yet super famous it still attracts a small crowd looking to snap some photos, especially on weekends. So make sure you come here before noon for the best opportunity to take some beautiful photos in the streets of Balat.
The exact address of the houses is 28-32 Kiremit Caddesi (Kiremit Street). If you’re coming from the main street in Balat, be prepared to walk uphill for a few minutes to reach the houses.
A little further down from Kiremit Street are the newly painted colourful houses on 3-7 Dindas street that are also a great spot for your instagrammable photos in Istanbul.
You can reward yourself with a delicious Turkish breakfast and spend a relaxing afternoon in Balat exploring the antique shops and cafes with views over the Bosphorus.
2. Ortakoy Mosque – Best Photo spots in Istanbul
Set on the edge of the Bosphorus, the Ortakoy Mosque is one of the most beautiful photo spots in Istanbul with its elegant architecture and the impression that it’s standing on the water.
Come here early in the morning (before 10am) and you’ll be able to enjoy the place to yourself, sharing it only with the curious pigeons around.
The mosque is located along Ortakoy square where a small market is set up later in the day where you can buy handcrafted souvenirs and jewellery. Here you can also grab Kumpir (baked potato with stuffing), one of the best street food in Istanbul that you should try.
Location: Ortakoy Mosque, Istanbul
3. Galata Tower – most beautiful photo spots in Istanbul
Galata Tower is one of the symbols of the city and one of the most famous instagrammable spots in Istanbul. It’s an old Genoise tower with the rooftop, the pretty narrow streets around it and the tower itself being a beautiful backdrop for photos.
You can see the tower from various different places around Istanbul which gives the opportunity to experiment and differentiate your photos from the rest.
The Galata neighbourhood is a busy hub not only for tourists but also for lots of people walking to work along the famous narrow streets with the best views. So make sure you come as early in the morning as you can for the best photo opportunity.
Later in the morning the whole neighbourhood opens up with various cute cafes, restaurants and boutique shops attracting the crowds of Istanbul tourists and locals alike.
Location: Galata Tower, Büyük Hendek Cd, Istanbul
4. Turkish Breakfast Cafes – Instagrammable Restaurants Istanbul
Turkish Breakfast doesn’t normally make it on the most instagrammable spots in Istanbul lists. However, I’m going to show you why it should be on YOUR list when you’re visiting Istanbul.
First of all, you should definitely try some of the Best Turkish breakfast in Istanbul as part of your bucket list here! I promise you, you’ll never look at breakfast the same way again.
But the amazing thing is that a few cafes make the breakfast not only an incredible culinary experience but also a feast for the eyes with the most beautifully decorated interior and presentation of the breakfast spread.
Arada Cafe and Bazlama Kahvelti are your must go-to for beautiful Turkish breakfast decorations and interior design, creating the perfect photo opportunity.
Read more about the best places for Turkish Breakfast in Istanbul here so you’re prepared for your trip!
5. Sultanahmet Square – Instagrammable places in Istanbul
Probably the most popular tourist spot in Istanbul, gathering up many of the city’s top landmarks.
The most prominent buildings that will catch your eye are the Hagia Sophia Mosque with its light red tint, which is also the biggest mosque in Istanbul and one of the most beautifully decorated inside.
Outside the mosque there’s a big fountain which adds to the picture-worthy scene, with countless seagulls flying around the square trying to find themselves some leftovers from the simit (bagel-like bread) or corn on a cob stands.
The best photo spots in Sultanahmet Square are in front of the fountain with the Hagia Sophia in the background and on one of the side paths leading to the mosque.
You can also visit the Seven Hills Restaurant’s famous rooftop for a different angle of the mosque. However, I would advise you to just order a couple of drinks at most here and snap some photos instead of having breakfast/dinner. Unfortunately the quality of the food really doesn’t match the prices of the restaurant.
On the opposite side to Hagia Sophia, you’ll see the Blue Mosque, the second most famous mosque in the city.
The best photo spots at the Blue Mosque are outside the mosque near the benches, and in the small square of the mosque.
Unfortunately, the Blue Mosque has been undergoing renovations inside for a couple of years now so don’t keep your hopes up if you decide to see it inside. Most of the time, it isn’t really worth it when the queue to go in is more than half an hour.
The Best Sunset Spot in Sultanahmet Square
For the best sunset photos in Sultanahmet square head to the Blue House restaurant where you can enjoy some of the best views of the sun setting behind the Blue Mosque. It’s definitely one of the most instagrammable restaurants in Istanbul.
This was one of our favourite dinner spots in Istanbul and I can highly recommend it! It’s definitely one of the best photo spots in Istanbul.
Location: Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul
6. Hagia Sophia – Most beautiful mosque in Istanbul
While you’re exploring Sultanahmet Square you should definitely set some time aside to visit the Hagia Sophia mosque, mentioned above.
The mosque was previously a church turned into a mosque and until recently a museum. It’s free to visit and it makes for one of the best photo spots in Istanbul with its stunning interior design.
Hagia Sophia is declared to be one of the greatest architectural works in the world and is often being billed as the 8th wonder of the world.
The remarkable structure combines design elements both from Christianity and Islam under an impressive dome holding multiple low hanging chandeliers with bright candle-like lights.
The whole interior of the mosque is picture worthy making it one of the most instagrammable spots in Istanbul.
Just keep in mind that since Hagia Sophia is now a mosque and not a museum, women are required to wear a scarf covering their hair as well as less revealing clothes.
Upon entry to the mosque you are also required to take your shoes off and place them on a rack by the entrance.
The mosque’s floor is covered with carpets so it’s comfortable to walk barefoot, but if you’re like me and you don’t like the idea of thousands of bare feet walking the same floor – just remember to bring a pair of socks with you!
Location: Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
7. Bosphorus Cruise or Ferry
One of the best things to do in Istanbul is taking a cruise across the Bosphorus, the strait dividing Istanbul between Europe and Asia.
On my first visit to the metropolis, we booked a sunset cruise in Istanbul across the Bosphorus which was the perfect way to see all the landmarks along each side of the strait.
Here are some some amazing sunset cruises where you can take incredible photos, making it one of the most Instagrammable spots in Istanbul.
A very romantic experience and a perfect place for taking some beautiful photos with eager seagulls in the background. I can recommend this if you’re looking for a more touristy experience and want to properly see what the Bosphorus has to offer!
However, if you are on a budget, a cheaper alternative to the cruise is taking the ferry from the European side to the Asian side. The ferry takes you across the Bosphorus on a more direct, but just as beautiful route.
The ferry costs only a fraction of the cruise prices, and you’ll need to have Istanbul Kart to use it (the public transport card in Istanbul).
Make sure to bring some bread for the seagulls and try to secure a spot on the upper deck, closer to the water. Keep your camera ready, as once the ferry leaves a flock of seagulls will start flying next to it waiting for their treat.
8. Suleymaniye Mosque | Best Photo Spots in Istanbul
There’s an incredible number of mosques grazing the horizon of Istanbul but if you had already been to Eminonu and the Sultanahmet square side of the city, you will have most likely also seen Suleymaniye Mosque in the distance.
It is one of the biggest and most beautiful mosques in the city which definitely makes it one of the best photo spots in Istanbul.
It’s not as popular with tourists as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia which makes it a lot less crowded and enjoyable.
One of the best photo spots here is in the courtyard preceding the entrance to the mosque, and this is where you’ll see most of the Instagram photos being taken.
However, as we visited early in the morning and despite trying to avoid prayer times, the mosque closed its entrance for tourists just as we arrived.
That pushed me to be creative and find some new angles of the mosque, making for just as beautiful photos as you can get inside.
Location: Suleymanie Mosque, Istanbul
9. Dolmabahce Palace
The Dolmabahce Palace is one of the most grandeur and impressive buildings in Istanbul, being also the biggest palace in the whole of Turkey.
It is a must visit in Istanbul not only for its impressive architectural and design elements but also for the historical value of the palace.
You need to make sure you’re here just before opening time as it gets very busy very quickly since it’s one of the most popular places to visit in Istanbul.
Some of the best photo spots here are at the entrance gates as well as the gates on the other side of the palace which open up to the Bosphorus. The gardens that you’ll see when you’re approaching the end of your visit are also a beautiful photo opportunity.
Sadly, photos inside the palace are not allowed so keep your camera away to avoid being told off. Though I would highly recommend you to take your time here to admire the interior design, inspired by Baroque and Neoclassical styles, blended with Ottoman architecture.
You could combine your visit to the palace with the Ortakoy mosque which is half an hour walk away (or 20 minutes on the bus).
Location: Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
Other photo spots in Istanbul
Topkapi Palace – Topkapi Palace is located on Sultanahmet square, so it’s very convenient to visit while exploring the area. It has a beautiful decor of Ottoman carvings and colourful tiles which would also be great for photos.
Basilica Cistern – Another popular landmark on Sultanahmet square, Basilica Cistern is an underground water reservoir with an impressive structure of 336 columns supporting the building. Definitely worth a visit as the place is super unique in itself, and might be of particular interest for Dan Brown’s Inferno fans as the end scene takes place here 🙂
Rainbow stairs – There’s multiple sets of colourful painted stairs dotted around Istanbul. But the original and most prominent ones can be found on Sali Pazar Yokusu, making for a great photo spot in Istanbul!
Best Photo Spots in Istanbul Map
Below is a map of the best photo spots in Istanbul. With this map you can easily plan your trip around the city to be able to capture as many beautiful places in Istanbul as possible.
You can also save the map to your Google Account for quick access by clicking on the star sign next to the map title and then “save”. To view the map on your phone, open Google Maps, click on “menu”, then “your places” and then click on “maps”.
Looking for where to stay in Istanbul?
Here are our favourite places to stay in Istanbul:
➔ The Galataport Hotel – The best view of the Galata Tower with delicious breakfast on the rooftop.
➔ Sayeban Hotel Istanbul – Divine comfort and beautiful views over the most historic part of Istanbul, Sultanahmet square where you can find the magnificent Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque.
➔ Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus – Overlooking the Bosphorus with luxurious rooms and gourmet breakfast choices.