The district of Üsküdaris located on the Asian sideof Istanbul along the Bosphorus Sea.
Largely residential and densely populated, Üsküdar is Istanbul at its most authentic. It offers visitors an exciting opportunity to get off the tourist track.
Here, some of Istanbul’s most phenomenal hidden gems. From modern mosques and libraries to traditional markets and hamams, this Asian-side district is abounding with memorable sites. For the purpose of this post, we’ve compiled the absolute best things to do inÜsküdar, so that you can make the most out of your visit.Where is Üsküdar?
The district of Üsküdar is on the Anatolian (Asian) side of Istanbul along the Bosphorus Shore. It neighbors the districts of Beykoz, Kadıköy, Ümraniye, and Ataşehir. It’s situated directly across the European district Beşiktaş.
Fortunately, Üsküdar is well connected with the European-side. There are several ways to get to Üsküdar, including:
By Ferry:There are direct ferries to Üsküdar from Beşıktaş Iskelesi, Kabataş, and Eminönü İskelesi.
Marmaray: There’s a rail tunnelunder the Bosphorus strait that connectsÜsküdar with the European Side. This is the fastest way to travel betweenÜsküdar and the Fatih district andSultanahmet.
By Taxi:You can also take a cab toÜsküdar. Make sure your driver turns the meter on before you start the drive. You’ll be charged an extra 10 Lira for a bridge toll, if you cross the Bosphorus Bridge,Temmuz Şehitler Köprüsü.
Top Things To See and Do in Üsküdar
Your guide to Uskudar’s most iconic sites and hidden gems
Nevmekan Sahil– Coolest academic space in Istanbul
Sunset Walk Along the Bosphorus– Amazing views and historic sites
Şakirin Mosque– Female-designed whimsical interior
Marmara University Faculty of Theology Mosque– The embodiment of poetry
Capitol Shopping Mall– a Shopping paradise
Üsküdar Balıkçılar Çarşısı(Fish Market) – Heart-beating marketplace
Beylerbeyi Palace– Waterfront palace with epic furniture
Nevmekan Sahil is a multi-functional building that serves as a café, art gallery, library and study space.It’s easy to miss, so definitely mark your map with this top place to see inÜsküdar.
When you walk in, you’ll first see a café and a seating arrangement. You’ll also see an art exhibit wrapping around the central room.The heart ofNevmekan Sahil is a gorgeous library with a spectacular domed ceiling. To say it’s memorable is an understatement. Lined with books, this circular-room provides ample space for reading, studying, eating and chatting. If the architect’s objective was to inspire students to study, he/she achieved it.
This library is easily one of the coolest secular places in all of Istanbul. Bring your book, or simply grab a bite to eat at the café. Two cafés are positioned at opposite ends of the main floor.
Address:Aziz Mahmut Hüdayi Mahallesi, No: 6 Üsküdar / İstanbul
Sunset Walk along the Bosphorus & Maiden’s Tower
The promenade along the Bosphorus offers an unbeatable sunset view of Istanbul’s skyline. Minarets penetrate the sky and the sun seems to sink into Fatih district. As you walk along the choppy Bosphorus Sea, you’ll see people fishing, eating lunch, and socializing. We recommend walking in the direction of Maiden’s Tower around sunset. This is the most popular activity inÜsküdar for locals and tourists.
Notable Sites along the Bosphorus shore of Üsküdar
Mihrimah Sultan Mosque (Iskele Mosque) –This Imperial Ottoman mosque located inÜsküdar Square was designed by the Imperial Architect Mimar Sinan and completed in 1548.
Şemsi Paşa Camii– This waterfront mosque is unfishable as you venture south. There’s an entrance facing the sea, and one facing the street.Şemsi Paşa (1580) is anotherImperial Ottoman Mosque designed by the architect Mimar Sinan. Inside, you’ll see beautiful stain glass windows.
Yeni Valide Çeşmesi– This mosque complex is particularly noteworthy, because of theottoman bird palacesadorning its exterior.
Nevmekan Sahil –The stunning library and art center (explained above).Maiden’s Tower(Leander’s Tower) – The Maiden’s Tower is located on a small island in the middle of the Bosphorus strait. Its history can be traced back to the ancient Athenians. However, much of its historical narrative is embellished with legend. This iconic tower is accessible by boat. There’s a restaurant in the building. Alternatively, there are cafés along the shore that offer outstanding views of the tower.
Where to Eat along the Bosphorus Shore of Üsküdar
Dönerci Hamdi Usta– This popular restaurant serves doner kebab in wraps or plated dishes. Try theİskender kebap,Lavaş Döner Dürumand don’t miss out on theKatmer dessert!
Located at one of the entrances to Karacaahmet Cemetery, Şakirin Mosque gets our vote for the top place to see in Üsküdar. It’s a bit out of the way, but worth the trek, or taxi ride. Built-in 2009, this modern mosque has a whimsical interior that was imagined and decorated by the female designer Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu. I repeat FEMALE DESIGNER. Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu is the first woman to design the interior of a mosque!!! The exterior is humble, but don’t let that fool you. The metaphorical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is waiting for you inside.
Before you step inside, head to the courtyard and take in the unique shell dome made up of aluminum scales. In the middle of the courtyard, there’s a solemn-looking pool that functions as a fountain.
Upon entering, you’ll be struck by the deep teal and gold mihrab. A mihrab is a semicircular niche in the wall that indicates the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and thus the direction Muslims should face while praying. This organic-shaped mihrab looks like a modern take on a mermaid shell or fantasy throne for a postmodern monarch. In other words, it’s pretty epic! The next thing you’ll notice is the three-ringed chandelier, which manages to be both elegant and playful. Crystal teardrops hang from its rings, adding a whole level of enchantment to the interior.
Etiquette: Women and men enter the mosque from separate doors. Before entering the building, take your shoes off. There are cubbies for shoes as soon as you enter. The floors are segregated. Men stay on the ground floor, and women occupy the upper floor.
Address: Barbaros Mahallesi, Nuhkuyusu Cd No:2, 34662 Üsküdar/İstanbul
- Marmara University Faculty of Theology Mosque (Ilahiyat Camii)
We’d argue that the Marmara University Faculty of Theology Mosque is Istanbul’s most beautiful mosque.Situated between Marmara University and Capitol Shopping Mall, this modern mosque (2015) steals the limelight on Mahir İz Caddessi.The standout exterior looks like the embodiment of advanced geometry, poetry and modern art. Luckily, the interior is just as divine. The dome is composed of glass and wood blocks that spiral up to the ceiling. The glass ceiling allows soft light to stream in, imbuing the whole space with peacefulness. It’s poetic. The stencil-like facade allows more light to enter the sacred space, creating reflective patterns on the carpet. You certainly don’t have to be Muslim to appreciate the luminous design of this magnificent building.Etiquette:Women and men enter the mosque from the same door. Before entering the building, take your shoes off. There are cubbies for your shoes as soon as you enter. The floors are segregated. Men stay on the ground floor, and women occupy the upper floor. Don’t worry ladies; the view is better from the balcony!How to get here:Assuming you’re at the Bosphorus, go to the Üsküdar metro station. Take the M5 (Purple Line) toBağlarbaşı Station. FromBağlarbaşı, it’s a short walk upMahir İz Caddessi to the Mosque.
- Capitol Shopping Mall
If you visit the Marmara University Faculty of Theology Mosque, head next door to the Capitol Shopping Mall for lunch and shopping. All of our favorite Turkish stores are conveniently located here. This might not be the best way to spend your day in Uskudar, but we’re not judging.How to get here:Assuming you’re at the Bosphorus, go to the Üsküdar metro station. Take the M5 (Purple Line) toBağlarbaşı Station. FromBağlarbaşı, it’s a short walk upMahir İz Caddessi, just past the Marmara University Mosque.
- Üsküdar Balıkçılar Çarşısı (Fish Market)
Üsküdar Balıkçılar Çarşısı is an animated marketplace in the heart of the shopping area near iskele (dock). You’ll find fish, dried fruits and vegetables, spices, bread, and more. Sellers and customers enliven the fish market with their bargaining voices.
- Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace (1861-1865) is located along the Bosphorus, close to the Temmuz Şehitler Köprüsü Bridge. Serving as the summer residence of the Sultans and a house for foreign diplomats,Beylerbeyi was built to impress.We loved visitingBeylerbeyi Palacebecause there was no line, barely any other people on-site, and the audio guide was easy to follow. It’s hard to find palaces in Istanbul that aren’t overrun by tourists, but this is one of them.
The interior furnishings are grandiose, but also purposeful.From exotic carpets to consoles inlayed with mother of pearl, each piece of furniture is perfectly placed.The ceilings are all adorned with floral motifs, nautical-scenes or Quran scripture. And, each room features a uniqueFrench Baccarat chandelier. However, the most unique room is the saloon on the first floor. A large water basin occupies the center of the saloon. Though the basin is dry, you can just about imagine the sultan swimming around his pool.
Address:Beylerbeyi Mahallesi, Abdullahağa Cd., 34676 Üsküdar/İstanbul.