Being a city of seven hills, you’d be hard pressed not to find some sort of view within Istanbul. Unfortunately, many of these views are only accessible from restaurants, hotels, and other such buildings. If you’re not interested in pay-per-view (or you tried but your dinner table was in the middle of the restaurant rather than at the windows), don’t worry – there are some places where you can admire a view without taking a hit to your wallet. In no particular order, here are five places where you can survey the incredible spread that is Istanbul for free.

Süleymaniye Mosque

This mosque is built on a hill near the Bosphorus. If you venture to the back of the compound, you will see the Strait and the city laid out as far as the eye can see. You will also witness the hustle and bustle of ferries and ships to-ing and fro-ing as they go about their business.

Galata Bridge

This bridge connects two sides of Istanbul and is considered to be a major artery of the city. It is always teeming with life along it, on either side of it, and under it. The people-watching is fantastic and the views are phenomenal, especially in the dying light of the sun.
Galata Bridge
Galata Bridge views

Pierre Loti Café

This café is accessible either via an uphill walk through a cemetery or by taking a funicular ride for a few liras. At the top of the hill, there is a viewing platform as well as the café itself. It is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, sipping cay and admiring the views on Istanbul.

Pierre Loti Cafe
Pierre Loti Cafe

City Walls

Climbing these walls is not for the faint of heart or the unsteady of feet. But if you make it up in one piece, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views of Istanbul, giving you a chance to admire the old and the new that make up this great city.

Kadikoy Boardwalk

Not all the great views are restricted to the European side of Istanbul. If you venture over to the Asian side, there is plenty to discover, including a quiet boardwalk along the Bosphorus. It is an excellent opportunity to admire the European side with all its famous landmarks, including the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.

view from Istanbul Asian side - Moda