Tourist’s guide to the best view points of Istanbul

To get a complete picture of Istanbul, it is not enough to visit its main attractions. The city is worth seeing not only from the ground, but also from a bird’s eye view. This opportunity is given to tourists by the observation deck of Istanbul. One of them is located in a modern building at an altitude of more than 200 m, the others are in the oldest structures and do not differ in large dimensions. But all of them are united by the picturesque angles of the metropolis, which make it possible to fully realize how beautiful the largest city in Turkey is. What are the terraces and where to find them, we consider in detail in our article.

Istanbul Observation Decks

Lookout at Sapphire Skyscraper

Sapphire Skyscraper is a relatively young building: its construction was completed in 2010, and already in 2011 it began to function. The construction is considered the highest in all of Turkey. The height of the skyscraper along with the spire is 261 m, it has 64 floors, 10 of which are located underground, and 54 – above its level. Such dimensions allowed the glass giant to enter the top ten tallest buildings in Europe. Sapphire skyscraper is located in the central part of Istanbul, in the business district of Levent, bordering the Sisli district.

Find out in which area of ​​Istanbul a tourist should stay in this article .

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Skyscraper Sapphire
What is inside

Unlike most skyscrapers, the premises of which are usually reserved for offices, Sapphire is a residential complex with luxury apartments. The first floors of the building are occupied by a large shopping center, and in its underground part are concentrated parking and several shops. It also offers excellent conditions for outdoor activities: on site you can find a swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley and even a golf course. Numerous living plants and pendant LED balls harmoniously decorate the modern interior. Inside the skyscraper there are several restaurants and cafeterias.

The Wax Museum

One of the remarkable objects of Sapphire was the Wax Museum, located on the lower level of the shopping complex. The gallery consists of three exhibition halls, where for the most part figures of important Turkish politicians and cultural figures are represented. In addition, the museum displays a considerable number of figures of the rulers of Russia. Among them are Lenin, Stalin, Brezhnev and many others. And although the exhibits are not entirely plausible, it’s interesting to see. The cost of admission to the museum is 15 tl.

Observation deck

Although the Sapphire skyscraper in Istanbul offers many interesting options for spending time, most tourists visit it for the sake of the observation deck. Located at an altitude of 236 m above ground level, the terrace is conditionally divided into two parts. The first is reserved, in fact, for the observation platform, the second is equipped with a restaurant and souvenir shops. There is also a cinema where you can go on a virtual 4D tour by helicopter from Sapphire to the main attractions of the metropolis .

Sapphire Observation Deck

The terrace has a rounded shape, there are both indoor and outdoor areas. Nearly the entire circumference of the room, tables and chairs are located next to the windows, so visitors have a great opportunity to enjoy the picturesque panorama of the city with a cup of real Turkish coffee.

Bosphorus exit to the Black Sea

Sapphire observation deck in Istanbul offers a 360-degree view. Particularly breathtaking views open up in the north of the terrace, from where you can see the entire Bosphorus Strait, from the point where it flows into the Black Sea to its junction with the Sea of ​​Marmara. In the east, the platform faces the famous Mehmed Fatih Bridge – the second Istanbul bridge over 1.5 km long, passing through the Bosphorus Strait and connecting the European and Asian parts of the metropolis.

Sea of ​​Marmara view

On the south side of the observation deck are numerous buildings of the city: dozens of skyscrapers and thousands of houses cover the city landscape, playing with colorful paints. But from the western windows, in addition to miniature houses, a view of the Ali Sami Yong sports stadium, one of the largest football arenas in Turkey, opens. It is here that the eminent football club Galatasaray is training, and during the matches the stadium is ready to accommodate more than 52 thousand spectators.

In the high-speed elevator

The observation deck is located on the 52nd floor of a skyscraper, where you can climb in a minute on a high-speed elevator, rushing up at a speed of 17.5 km / h. You need to purchase tickets for the attraction at the box office on floor B1. The entrance fee to the terrace is 27 tl, a virtual skyride is paid extra (price 14 tl).

How to get there
By metro to Levent Station

If you are looking for information on how to get to the Sapphire Skyscraper in Istanbul, the information below will help you. The path to the complex, first of all, depends on your starting point. If you are leaving from the areas of Beyoglu, Sisli or Mejidiyokoy, then it will be easy to get to Sapphire: take the metro line M2 and get directly to station 4. Levent, from where you can easily reach the skyscraper.

Well, if you plan to get to the tallest building in Turkey from the historical quarters of the city, then the road will not be easy. Consider a route option from the popular tourist areas of Sultanahmet and Eminenyu. In both cases, you will need:

By tram line T1 Kabataş - Bağcılar
  1. Catch the tram line T1 Kabataş – Bağcılar, next to Kabataş, and land at the final stop.
  2. Near the tram stop, find the entrance to the funicular line F1, which will take you to Taksim Square.
  3. Then, without going outside, go to the M2 branch and go to the Taksim metro station, go 4 stops and get off at station 4. Levent.
  4. At 4. Levent Station, find the sign that says “Istanbul Sapphire,” which leads you straight to the lower tier of the complex you are looking for.

Now you know exactly how to get to the Sapphire skyscraper in Istanbul. Despite the fact that you have to make three transfers, using three different modes of transport, the road to the object should not take more than 30 minutes.

For Istanbul metro features and fares, see this page .

Useful Tips
Sunset from the observation deck Sapphire
  1. Many tourists who visited the observation deck of Sapphire advise to wait for the sunset. In addition to the incredible views of the sunset, you will have a panorama of the evening Istanbul, full of golden lights.
  2. Before heading to a skyscraper, be sure to check the weather forecast. If it is expected to rain, then there is no point in visiting the complex: after all, all the views from the windows may be hidden behind thick fog.
  3. Do not forget that the entrance fee to the Sapphire skyscraper terrace does not include a 4-D movie ticket. Most visitors to the observation deck left positive feedback on virtual skyride, so it’s still worth buying.
  4. Be prepared for the fact that the prices in the cafe on the terrace are quite high.
  5. Please note that it is forbidden to use professional photo equipment in the observation deck. For example, with a tripod, they will definitely not let you in.

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Maiden’s Tower

The Maiden Tower, one of the main symbols of the metropolis, can also be reliably attributed to the best viewing platforms of Istanbul. Built in the 4th century under Emperor Constantine, the building served as a sentinel object for a long time. In the 15th century it was transformed into a lighthouse, and then into a prison. At the end of the 20th century, the movement of ships on the Bosphorus was controlled from here. Today the Maiden’s Tower has turned into a cultural object, within the walls of which art exhibitions and concerts of live music are held. The building also houses a popular restaurant, and there is an observation deck on the balcony of the tower.

Maiden's Tower

The attraction is located on a miniature islet, located 200 meters from the shores of Uskudar. Its height is 23 m, but despite such a small size, it offers excellent views of the European and Asian parts of Istanbul. You can visit the tower both as a museum and as a restaurant. It serves Turkish and European cuisine and every day, except Mondays, talented musicians play, which, coupled with picturesque views of the Bosphorus, creates a unique romantic atmosphere.

Lookout Maiden Tower

The museum is open from 09:00 to 19:00. The cost of his visit is 25 tl. You can get to the tower by ferry from Salajak pier, located in the Uskudar area.

You can visit the restaurant in Maiden's Tower
  • On weekdays, transport runs every 15 minutes from 09:15 to 18:30, on weekends – from 10:00 to 18:00.
  • On Saturday and Sunday, the property can be reached by ferry from the Kabatash pier, located near Taksim Square in the Beyoglu district. Transport departs every hour from 10:00 to 18:00.
  • For everyone who wants to visit the restaurant in the Maiden’s Tower after 19:00, a separate transport service is available upon reservation.

You will be interested: Dolmabahce – a magnificent Istanbul palace on the banks of the Bosphorus .

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Galata Tower

Another noteworthy observation deck of Istanbul is located in the Galata Tower. This ancient building, dating back to the 6th century, served as a lighthouse for a long time, and then turned into an observatory. For some time it was used as a fire tower and prison, but today it acts as an unchanged viewing platform of Istanbul. From here you can see beautiful panoramas of the city and its surroundings, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn Bay.

panaroma from the Galata tower

The height of the building above ground level is 61 m, and above sea level – 140 m. Its external diameter exceeds 16 m and the wall thickness reaches almost 4 m. There are 143 steps to the terrace, but the building also has an elevator. At the top of the tower there is a comfortable, albeit an expensive restaurant, and a souvenir shop below.

Galata Tower
  • Galata Tower is located in the European part of Istanbul in the Beyoglu district.
  • Entrance fee for tourists is 25 tl.
  • The facility is open daily from 09:00 to 20:30.

Schedule and prices on the page are for November 2018.


Visiting the observation deck of Istanbul, you will see the city from a completely different perspective. Be sure to visit at least one of the objects described by us, and you will understand how magnificent and vast the metropolis is. And so that your review of the city takes place in the most saturated manner, do not forget to use the information from our article.

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