10 photogenic spots in Istanbul for photography lovers
Istanbul’s vibrant energy, fascinating history and breathtaking architecture has inspired artists, painters and photographers who have been flocking to the city for centuries to capture its essence and timelessness. If you like city photoshoots, want to indulge your lens or be the main model of your photos, below are 10 photogenic spots in Istanbul that will inspire you and spark your creativity.
I love visiting the city in spring and autumn to make the most of its great light variations, mild weather and long sunsets. It’s one of my favourite places in the world for taking landscape and street photography.
10 photogenic places in Istanbul for photogRAPHY lovers
The blue mosque
The Blue mosque is the most photographed landmark in Istanbul and there is a good reason for that. It’s visually stunning!
With its impressive dome and soaring minarets, it sits majestically in the middle of lush gardens and overlooking the Bosphorus river, a view best enjoyed from an elevated angle.
The best way to capture the blue mosque is from a rooftop terrace. There are many rooftop buildings in Sultanhamet with the Seven Hills restaurant being the most popular thanks to Instagram. Many hotels in Sultanhamet have a rooftop terrace overlooking the blue mosque and Hagia Sophia so make sure to check your hotel’s facilities when booking.
The grand bazaar
The bazaar is another great location for taking photos. It offers a wonderful sensory experience with its cacophony of colourful shops, moody lighting and hidden passages. It’s a photographer’s delight and an experience not to miss.
“Street vendors are the songbirds of the streets, they are the life and soul of Istanbul, he said. Under no circumstances must they ever be banned.”
the Bosphorus cruise
Nautical photoshoots are whimsical and evoke a sense of adventure and with so much space and variety of backgrounds you can get many compositions in the best light conditions. The Bosphorus cruise offers a ton of stunning backdrops from old buildings and palaces to bridges and gorgeous sunsets.
The colourful neighborhoud of Balat
Balat is no longer a hidden gem thanks to social media and most people visit the famous Kiremit Caddesi (Kiremit street) to take pictures of the colourful houses but there’s much more to Balat than just that. The neighbourhood has the biggest number of churches and synagogues in one area and you could be forgiven for thinking you are not in Turkey
Balat has a unique and unusual style of architecture with cobbled roads, steep streets and colourful houses adjoining dilapidated grey buildings.
The Orient Express station
If you have cash to spare, you can treat yourself to a 5 night train journey from Istanbul to Paris aboard the legendary Orient Express train for £22,000. Failing that, you can visit Sirkeci Station which was added as a destination in 1883, two years after the Orient Express’ first journey.
Sadly, Istanbul was scrapped as a destination in 1977 but there is talk that the original Orient Express service between Paris and Istanbul could be revived in 2024 thanks to an initiative by the group Accor hotels.
The Orient Express theme extends beyond the train station and into the historical Pera Palace hotel. This iconic hotel was built to accommodate the wealthy and famous passengers of the Orient Express. Agatha Christie used to be a regular guest and is thought to have written her famous book Murder on The Orient Express in her favourite room, 411. Other famous guests included Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Queen Elisabeth II and Alfred Hitchcock.
The stunning hotel is located in Beyoglu district and boasts 115 rooms built in the neoclassical style with French balconies and facilities which included the first lift in a hotel at the time and which is still in use. It was also the subject of a popular Netflix series called Midnight at The Pera Palace.
if you can’t afford a night here you can still visit the hotel during the day, have an afternoon tea in its Kubbeli lounge or even do a themed 20’s photoshoot!
This beautiful mosque doesn’t get as much publicity as the blue mosque or Hagia Sophia but is just as grand looking and makes a perfect backdrop for photos.
The mosque is located next to the entrance of the Grand Bazaar so you can’t miss it. It has a typical 18th century Ottoman Empire style with a single dome and two minarets, which gives it a distinctive look. The courtyard inside is very photogenic too so it’s worth a stop on your way to the bazaar.
Beyoğlu and the Galata tower
Beyoğlu is a lovely neighbourhood full of historical buildings and art deco architecture. The opportunities to try different styles of photography are endless. If you are into street photography, head to Istiqlal avenue and snap photos of the nostalgic red tramway.
Landscape photographers would get the best panoramic views from the top of the Galata tower. But the tower looks magnificent from every angle so head there on an early Sunday morning and let your creativity run wild.
SAmiral Tafdil Sk
Amiral Tafdil Sk is a street in Sultanahmet with many photogenic places. The street is home to several hotels and restaurants and is very atmospheric.
Take a tour and admire the wonderfully decorated buildings with flowery terraces, bougainvillea walls and decorative art. Your photos will look magical on a sunny day or at night when the street is all lit up!
One of the most beautiful mosques in Istanbul with a very picturesque setting. Head there for sunrise or sunset and capture different lights and reflections on the water.
What an amazingly photogenic place Istanbul is! Both the Blue Mosque and Nuruosmaniye Camii are stunningly beautiful. Love the reflection of the Galata tower and the long exposure night shot of the Pera Palace hotel – both fantastic photos. It’s interesting that there is a plan to revive the Orient Express all the way to Istanbul, although I suspect we would have to save our pennies (and pounds) for a fair while! We have never visited Istanbul but your post has introduced us to some places that we would very much like to see.
Thanks Mitch and glad my post has inspired you to visit Istanbul in the future. The mosques are unique and incredibly beautiful in Turkey and the Orient Express trip would be wonderful indeed!
Your blog has come at a great time for me. As a photographer who loves to shoot cityscapes myself and my girlfriend are heading to Istanbul later this year and I cannot wait. The blu mosque is amazing and I have been wanting to see it in person for a long long time and finally it’s about to happen. Your post is wonderful and I will make sure to hit all the places mentioned in this post! James
Thanks a lot James! You will enjoy taking pictures in Istanbul. Also checkout my Istanbul itinerary which has tons of tips and will save you hours of research 🙂
Great photos! I would agree that Istanbul is a very photogenic city. The ancient and old buildings easily lend themselves to some fantastic scenery and architecture photography. I came away from Istanbul with hundreds of photos and actually found it difficult to restrict myself to certain ones that I included in my blog of the city.
I would say that Topkapi Palace also lends itself so well to creative scenes and photo taking. Photos of the Bosporus are also easy to take especially from a ferry as you approach the ferry terminals.
I particularly like the photo of the Galata Tower reflected in the street pool of water – very unique.
Yes, one could easily get carried away snapping photos in Istanbul. I love going back and seeing things with a fresh eye and my photos look different from one trip to another. I agree that the Topkaki palace is a great place to try some creative photography. It was too crowded when I visited so didn’t take too many photos.
I’m here for all of your Istanbul posts. I can’t wait to visit in a few months, and I’m noting down all these fantastic places for inspiration. The market, the mosque, the colorful buildings – all just spectacular. I think I’m going to be spoiled for choice on what to see first and in beginning to worry I’m going to run out of time
Thanks Emma, I’m glad you found some inspiration here. So excited for your trip to Istanbul and I can’t wait to read all about it.
These spots really show off the beauty of Istanbul. The Grand Bazaar has been on my list for a while – I love walking through markets like that and getting a glipse of local culture. The Nuruosmaniye Camii is stunning in that pale blue and white. I also love the fresh perspective of the reflection you caught!
They are indeed all beautiful spots and there’s plenty more that I didn’t get to see. Istanbul is one of those destinations that need multiple trips to really become familiar with it.
Istanbul and Turkey are still on my wish list. And since I love photography, I read happy your article about the most photogenic places in Istanbul for photographers—an excellent summary to make it easier to plan your trip. You provide professional photography tips and great photo ideas. I would love to capture the blue mosque from a rooftop terrace. Also, I would love to take pictures of the Orient Express station.
Thanks Agnes and glad you found the tips helpful. One doesn’t need to be a skilled photographer as Istanbul is so pretty you can’t possibly take a bad shot of it 🙂
I know Istanbul is photogenic but your photos are exceptionally beautiful. I would love to go back and put more effort into my photography. As much as I’d loved to do the Orient Express train ride, visiting Sirkeci Station is a more realistic option. You’ve highlighted some great landmarks and shared some helpful tips about how to photograph them, thank you!
Thank you. You now have a genuine reason to go back 🙂
I’ve never been to Istanbul but your photos have certainly inspired me to add it to my list. I’m not a photographer but I imagine even I could make the mosques look beautiful. It’s a shame that the orient express shut down. I’m glad to hear it will hopefully be in operation again next year.
Thanks Kelly I’m so pleased that my Istanbul blogs inspired you to want to visit it. It’s one of those places that were once at the centre of the world and deserve to be visited at least once to appreciate all the history.
Your photos are fantastic and truly inspiring. I’d have a field day in Istanbul and always admired the architecture around the city.
I particularly loved your Galata tower shot with the reflection, and the old-school VW beetles are something else. That would be so cool to capture!
And, of course, don’t forget the Grand Bazaar & Blue mosque – bucket list experiences, for sure.
Thanks for sharing these stunning photos.
Thank you. I wish I could take credit for the Galata shot and reflection but it’s a stock photo and I have updated the caption with the photographer’s name. The colourful bettles were fun to shoot and there are tons of other quirky things all around Balat neighbourhood.
Istanbul does indeed have magnificent places to photograph and your photographic records are beautiful and do justice to an extraordinary city.
As a photographer with a passion for street photography, it is good to have a guide of the most beautiful and “instagrammable” places.
I’ve been to Istanbul many times in passing but never had the opportunity to visit in time. I am sure I will use this information on a future visit!
Thank you. I hope you get to visit Istanbul in the future. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to street photography.
Istanbul is indeed mega photogenic. Thanks for sharing all your personal favourite spots. The colours are vibrant, the architecture intrinsic and most compositions have turned out interesting. I’m not a big photographer (it’s my least skilled area and thing to do for the blog) but I can see Istanbul does a fantastic job by itself so anyone will get a great shot on a trip.
Carolin | Solo Travel Story