Istanbul Photo Spots

On the easternmost part of Europe and bridging the continent with Asia, Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, is often considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Reaching its zenith as Constantinople and the capital of the Ottoman Empire, the city is an open-air museum filled with beautiful places that offer incredible photo opportunities. From the opulent palaces built by Ottoman sultans to awe-inspiring mosques with soaring minarets, every part of Istanbul is graced with tourist attractions that double as fantastic photography spots. Let us be your travel guide with this blog of the top 10 places to take photos in Istanbul. 🇹🇷

At ​​Flytographer, we easily connect people with trusted photographers for fun photo shoots and have captured over three million memories worldwide. Today, we asked our local photographers to show us around all the very best places to take photos in Istanbul. 📸


  1. Marvel at the architectural wonder that is Hagia Sophia.
  2. Admire the blue tiles adorning the awe-inspiring Blue Mosque.
  3. Get lost in the maze-like alleyways of the Grand Bazaar.
  4. Check out palatial architecture and embark on a cruise from Ortaköy Square.
  5. Capture the vibrant beauty of the Balat district.
  6. Take the photogenic route from Karaköy to Galata Bridge.
  7. Soak in the atmosphere and try a local specialty at Eminonu seafront.
  8. Take a moment of reflection and hear the call to prayer at Suleymaniye Mosque.
  9. Discover the hidden gem that is Rustem Pasha Mosque.
  10. Shop for edible souvenirs at the Spice Bazaar.

Photo: Murat G. in Istanbul for Flytographer. Diana and partner celebrate an anniversary in Istanbul with an anniversary photoshoot at Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

1. Hagia Sophia

In Sultanahmet, the old city district of Istanbul, and surrounded by the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn waterway, Hagia Sophia is not just a symbol of the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire but of Istanbul itself. Once a church, later a mosque, turned into a museum and then a mosque again, this building has an incredible history and religious significance. With its awe-inspiring domes, marble columns, and mosaics, it’s safe to say you’ll be looking at one of the architectural wonders of the world. 😍 There are usually long queues to get inside, but if you visit earlier or later in the day, it’s quieter, and chances are you’ll get to witness a fantastic sunrise or sunset against the silhouettes of the soaring minarets – truly magical.

When you visit Istanbul, remember mosques are places of worship and are closed to tourists during prayer times. Also, remember to dress respectfully when visiting. 😉

Photo: Ufuk in Istanbul for Flytographer. Stacy and partner capture memories in Istanbul with a family photoshoot at Hagia Sophia.

2. The Blue Mosque

Across from Sultanahmet Park and facing Hagia Sophia is a formidable contender: the world-famous Blue Mosque, known officially as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. The monument earned its name because of the blue tiles that adorn the walls of its interior. 🔷 With its stained-glass windows, giant courtyard, and stunning silhouette made up of six minarets, this building is one of the city’s most important tourist attractions and a top place to take photos in Istanbul. Here’s a fun fact: the idea behind the design of the Blue Mosque was to create something that would surpass the grandeur of Hagia Sophia. Some say it does; some say it doesn’t. One thing is for sure, they are both gorgeous. 🕌

Extra tip: just a few steps from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia is another unmissable landmark, the Basilica Cistern, the largest of several ancient cisterns beneath the city of Istanbul. This place is out of this world. We think it looks like something out of a Harry Potter book. 😯

Photo: Ufuk in Istanbul for Flytographer. Mahr and partner capture memories in Istanbul with a family photoshoot at The Blue Mosque.

3. The Grand Bazaar

Feeling like some old-style shopping? With 64 streets and smaller alleyways, roughly 4,000 stalls, its own mosque, and even a police station, the Grand Bazaar is the oldest and largest enclosed bazaar in the world. The best thing to do is to forget about Google Maps and get lost in the bazaar’s maze-like streets. You’ll discover displays of the most varied types of products: from Turkish lamps, carpets, and sweets to jewellery and fashion accessories. 💎 The hustle and bustle of the people and the expressive gestures of the vendors add to the allure of the place. If you get tired of exploring, pick one of the many cafes to have an amazing Turkish tea while watching the bustling crowds pass by. 🍵

Photo: Murat G. in Istanbul for Flytographer. Norr and family capture memories in Istanbul with a family photoshoot at The Grand Bazaar.

4. Ortaköy Square

Sitting in the Beşiktaş district, Ortaköy Square offers some of the best views of the Bosphorus and some of the best places to take photos in Istanbul. You know what that means: incredible photo opportunities. Besides being a meeting point for locals and tourists who gather at its cafes, bars, and restaurants, this is also the site of one of the most picturesque settings in the whole of Istanbul, the Ortaköy Mosque, also known as the Grand Mecidiye Mosque. With its neo-Baroque style and two majestic minarets, the mosque sits by the water, just beside the giant Bosphorus Bridge. 🌉

Not far away is another architectural wonder, the sumptuous Dolmabahçe Palace. To this day it is the largest palace in Turkey; it was built to be the home of Ottoman sultans. Need we say more? Expect very extravagant interiors and gardens. ✨

Extra tip: Ortaköy Square is a good spot to jump on a Bosphorus cruise or a ferry to cross from the European side to the Asian side of Istanbul. That’s the best way to admire the silhouette of some of the most beautiful places in Istanbul from the water. It’s truly an indescribable experience. Do as locals do: take some bread with you to feed the seagulls. 🥯

Photo: Murat G. in Istanbul for Flytographer. Lama and partner capture memories in Istanbul with a couples photoshoot at Ortaköy Square.

5. Balat District

One of the oldest and most Instagrammable places in Istanbul, Balat is a vibrant neighbourhood made up of narrow cobbled streets and colourful houses with hip cafes and art galleries. 🎨 The houses – some dating back 200 years – are among the most photographed buildings in Istanbul. There’s more: Balat has always been a melting pot of cultures and it boasts centuries-old synagogues, Greek basilicas, Byzantine churches, and mosques, all sitting close to each other. This must-visit area should be at the top of your list! ✔️

Extra tip: want even more colour in your pics? Then head to Istanbul’s Rainbow Stairs, which link the arty districts of Findikli and Cihangir. 🌈

Photo: Murat G. in Istanbul for Flytographer. Belinda and partner celebrate an anniversary in Istanbul with an anniversary photoshoot.

6. Karaköy to Galata Bridge

Sitting in the Beyoğlu district, Karaköy is one of the trendiest areas in Istanbul and is home to one of the city’s icons: the majestic Galata Tower. Once you explore the wonderful streets and alleyways adorned with amazing art murals, head to the tower and climb to the top to enjoy panoramic views of the Bosphorus. For the best places to take photos in Istanbul, you can follow this route that takes you from Karaköy’s riverfront to the Galata Bridge. The latter is a vantage point that offers a beautiful view of the monumental mosques on one side and the magnificent Galata Tower on the other. There’s also the allure of the fishers who line its balustrade every day. 🎣 With a quick detour, you can also check umbrella street (Hoca Tahsin Street) and add a little more colour to your pics. ☂️

Extra tip: close to Galata Tower is Istiklal Street, Istanbul’s busiest pedestrian boulevard, which stretches to Taksim Square. This lively commercial road is adorned with beautiful boutiques and buildings, such as Çiçek Pasajı, a stunning arcade also known as the Flower Passage. 🌼

Photo: Murat S. in Istanbul for Flytographer. Graysen and partner celebrate a honeymoon in Istanbul with a honeymoon photoshoot.

7. Eminonu Seafront

Once you cross Galata Bridge coming from Karaköy, you arrive at the Eminonu waterfront, another bustling and vibrant part of Istanbul that offers amazing vistas of the city’s beautiful mosques. With a busy ferry dock, the area serves as a passage for people travelling to and from other sides of the Bosphorus and is great for people watching. 👀 Don’t miss trying one of Istanbul’s quintessential meals: Balik Ekmek, a simple yet delicious fish sandwich sold on the boats docked along the seafront. Enjoying a fresh fish sandwich while admiring the dazzling view of the city is a true Istanbul experience.

Photo: Murat G. in Istanbul for Flytographer. Whitney and partner celebrate an anniversary in Istanbul with an anniversary photoshoot.

8. Suleymaniye Mosque

Suleymaniye Mosque is not just one of the most impressive mosques in the city but also one of the best places to take photos in Istanbul. Built atop one of the city’s seven hills (the third, more precisely) and overlooking the Bosphorus, one could even say that the mosque crowns the entire city. 👑 The sheer size of the structure alone is jaw-dropping, and every bit is decorated with fine tiles, stained-glass windows, and a spectacular amber-coloured floor carpet. If you have enough time, wait to listen to the call to prayer in the mosque’s inner courtyard. It’sunforgettable. The mosque is also surrounded by a walled garden with breathtaking vistas of Istanbul. 

Photo: Murat G. in Istanbul for Flytographer. Casey and partner capture memories in Istanbul with a vacation photoshoot at Suleymaniye Mosque.

9. Rustem Pasha Mosque

Although near the bustling Spice Bazaar, Rustem Pasha Mosque is a true hidden gem, boasting one of the most impressive examples of Ottoman tile art in Istanbul. The mosque is also referred to as the miniature of the Blue Mosque. Stepping inside can make you feel like you’ve found an oasis of calm amid the bustling city. The serene atmosphere allows you to capture amazing pics and admire the intricate tile work without being surrounded by hordes of tourists. Instead, you’re more likely to be there along with fine arts students sketching various drawings of the mesmerizing tiles and mosaics. ✏️

Extra tip: another gem hidden in plain sight that offers great photo ops is the Maiden’s Tower. On a small islet, closer to the Asian side of Istanbul, this structure is truly lovely and offers spectacular panoramic views. 👌

Photo: Murat G. in Istanbul for Flytographer. Tatiana and friend capture memories in Istanbul with a friends trip photoshoot.

10. The Spice Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar may be the largest and most famous in town, but the Spice Bazaar is known for being the most colourful and fragrant. 🌶️ Completed in the 17th century and also referred to as the Egyptian Bazaar, this is another significant market spot in Istanbul. We’re talking real eye candy shops here: vividly coloured spices stacked in mounds are showcased alongside stalls selling Turkish delights, dried herbs, nuts, dried fruits, coffee, and anything else you can imagine. 🌰 This is the perfect place to stock up on edible souvenirs and, of course, capture fabulous photos with the unique backdrop of colourful displays and lively atmosphere.

Capturing Memories in Istanbul

There’s so much more to see and do in Istanbul. That’s why we have a bonus this time. We invited a true Istanbulite to give us some extra tips: our local photographer, Ufuk! 

Here’s what he said:

  • The terraces in Suleymaniye or Galata: ‘These terraces offer beautiful carpet setups specifically designed for photography sessions. You’ll also have the opportunity to capture stunning views of Istanbul, complete with the majestic presence of seagulls in the air.’ Ufuk reminds us that some of these terraces may charge entrance fees, so keep an eye open for that.
  • Topkapı Palace: ‘A historical gem with magnificent architecture and breathtaking views of the Bosphorus.’ The Topkapı Palace is a museum, so you’ll also need to buy tickets, but it’s totally worth it – especially if you include the stunning Harem pass and visit the mosaic-tiled chambers and courtyards. Also, note that inside the palace wedding gowns are not allowed.
  • Princes’ Islands: ‘A serene escape from the city, featuring picturesque landscapes and quaint island life.’

Whenever you visit Istanbul, reach out to Ufuk or any of our local Flytographers and let them show you around and capture your memorable moments in this magical city. 😁