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Istanbul is the kind of city that poets and writers love to pen odes to. Whether they write about the city with beauty, sorrow, or hilarity, I always love to come across a tribute to the city tucked away inside novel, poem, or essay.

Here are twenty-five of my favorite Istanbul quotes to help inspire your next trip to this amazing city. Feel free to share your own favorite quotes about Istanbul in the comments in case I’ve missed any!

All other cities are mortal, but I think Istanbul shall be eternal as long as mankind exists.

Petrus Gyllius

People were right when they say there is no other place on earth as beautiful looking as Istanbul.


Turkey - Istanbul - Colorful Houses - Canva Purchase

It was in Cihangir that I first learned Istanbul was not an anonymous multitude of walled-in lives – a jungle of apartments where no one knew who was dead or who was celebrating what – but an archipelago of neighborhoods in which everyone knew each other.

Orhan Pamuk

Turkey - Istanbul - Ortaköy Mosque - Canva Purchase

If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Turkey - Istanbul - Blue Mosque - Canva

In Istanbul, I met a man who said he knew beyond a doubt that God was a cat. I asked why he was so sure, and the man said, “When I pray to him, he ignores me.”

Lowell Thomas
Turkey - Istanbul - Turkish Spices - Pixabay

So far I had been traveling alone with my handbook and my Western Railway timetable: I was happiest finding my own way and did not require a liaison man. It had been my intention to stay on the train, without bothering about arriving anywhere: sight-seeing was a way of passing the time, but, as I had concluded in Istanbul, it was an activity very largely based on imaginative invention, like rehearsing your own play in stage sets from which all the actors had fled.

Paul Theroux


To savor Istanbul’s back streets, to appreciate the vines and trees that endow its ruins with accidental grace, you must, first and foremost, be a stranger to them.

Orhan Pamuk
Turkey - Istanbul - Grand Bazaar - Pixabay

If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.

Alphonse de Lamartine

See also
Istanbul in Winter: 17 Things to Do on Your Turkish Winter Getaway


Turkey - Istanbul - Istanbul Train Station

I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed
The drunkenness of old times
In the wooden seaside villa with its deserted boat house
The roaring Southwestern wind is trapped,
My thoughts are trapped.

I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed
A bird is flying around your skirt
I know if your forehead is hot or cold
Or your lips are wet or dry;
Or is a white moon is rising above the hazelnut tree
My heart’s fluttering tells me
I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed

Orhan Veli Kanık

Turkey - Istanbul - Beyoğlu Street Sign

Istanbul, a universal beauty where poet and archeologist, diplomat and merchant, princess and sailor, northerner and westerner screams with same admiration. The whole world thinks that this city is the most beautiful place on earth.

Edmondo De Amicis


Turkey - Istanbul - Galata Tower


Holy Istanbul! Your name is the most enchanting one of all names which enchant me.

Pierre Loti
Turkey - Istanbul - Turkish Breakfast at Private Cafe

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.

Orhan Pamuk

Turkey - Istanbul - Fisherman in Bebek

The great trains are going out all over Europe, one by one, but still, three times a week, the Orient Express thunders superbly over the 1,400 miles of glittering steel track between Istanbul and Paris.

Under the arc-lights, the long-chassied German locomotive panted quietly with the labored breath of a dragon dying of asthma. Each heavy breath seemed certain to be the last. Then came another.

Ian Fleming

Turkey - Istanbul - Ortakoy Mosque

There’s different shopping in Paris than there is at a bazaar in Istanbul, but they’re all wonderful.

Iris Apfel

Turkey - Istanbul - Accommodations

On the meeting point of two worlds, the ornament of Turkish homeland, the treasure of Turkish history, the city cherished by the Turkish nation, İstanbul, has its place in the hearts of all citizens.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Turkey - Istanbul - Men Fishing on the Bosphorus
But Istanbul is a city of easy forgettings. Things are written in water over there, except the works of my master, which are written in stone.
Elif Shafak
Turkey - Istanbul - Wooden Houses of Arnavutkoy


Istanbul … the constant beating of the wave of the East against the rock of the West.

Susan Moody
Turkey - Istanbul - Turkish Delight


Life can’t be all that bad,’ I’d think from time to time. ‘Whatever happens, I can always take a long walk along the Bosphorus.

Orhan Pamuk

See also
Planning a Trip to Turkey: An 11-Step Checklist


Turkey - Istanbul - Sofia to Istanbul Train


Istanbul was something else entirely – a neutral capital that became a magnet for espionage and a desperate escape valve for refugees, a real-life Casablanca.

Joseph Kanon


Turkey - Istanbul - Hagia Sofia

A man went to Istanbul, his first visit there. On his way to a business meeting, this man lost his way. He began raging at himself for getting lost until a realization allowed him to transcend his ire. “How can I be lost? I’ve never been here before?

Melody Beattie


İstanbul is a magical seal which unites Europe and Asia since ancient times. Without a doubt, Istanbul is certainly the most beautiful place of the world.

Gerard De Nerval

Maybe Istanbul was the city in the sky where the people who were our reflections lived.

Burhan Sönmez

Turkey - Istanbul - Local Wine Turkish Food

Within Istanbul, there’s a ton of people who are totally hip – like the hippest people you could ever meet.

Lou Barlow

Turkey - Istanbul - Turkish Rug - Pixabay

“I met a very nice man who bet me he had the best security system in Istanbul.” His breath was warm on the back of her neck. “He was mistaken.”

Ally Carter

Turkey - Istanbul - Turkish Souvenirs

The Iron Rule of prudence for an Istanbulite Woman: If you are as fragile as a tea glass, either find a way to never encounter burning water and hope to marry an ideal husband or get yourself laid and broken as soon as possible. Alternatively, stop being a tea-glass woman!

Elif Shafak

If you have any more quotes about Istanbul that you love, please share below!

Istanbul Travel Resources

Headed to Turkey? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First, read our Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Turkey and local tipping customs.

If you’re still putting together your itinerary, here’s a great list of places to visit in Turkey to help you choose.

Next, you’ll want to read our guide to shopping in Istanbul so you know which souvenirs are truly local gems.

See also
Essential Turkey Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Turkey

If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan busroad trip, and itinerary guides. 

We publish new articles and trip advice nearly daily! For more information about traveling to Turkey and the Balkans, bookmark our Turkey and Balkan travel pages, where you’ll find our entire archive plus anything new we publish before you leave for your trip. 

Where to Stay in Istanbul

Turkey - Istanbul - Hammamhane

Accommodations in Istanbul offer a great value compared to other cities in Europe. Here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category:

  • Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $5-12 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $40 for a double.
  • Mid-range: Around $40-80
  • Luxury: Around $100 per night or more

Budget: For a great budget-friendly hotel, you can stay in single or double rooms at the Dreamers B&B. Colorful and cozy, the B&B boasts a fabulous location in Beyoglu, less than a kilometer from Taksim Square. You can explore all of Beyoglu from here, and then head to Sultanahmet when you’re ready to see the old city. Check pricing, reviews, and availability here.

Mid-Range: For an affordable, yet trendy boutique hotel, we recommend Peradays. It’s perfect for all Istanbul visitors, from first-timers to Istanbul veterans. The lofted rooms are generously large, so you can spread out and relax after a long day of sightseeing. They also have two cats that live here, Pera and Daisy, which you’ll be happy to greet after counting cats all day when out in the city. Check pricing, reviews, and availability here. 

Luxury: Istanbul has no shortage of fabulous hotels, but we love Hammamhane, a boutique apartment-hotel that was originally a hammam, and the sister hotel of Peradays. Built in a historic hammam (Turkish bath), the suites are spacious and luxurious. Located in the heart of Cukurcuma, the antiques district, Hammamhane is within walking distance to art galleries, design stores, antique shops, and chic cafés. Check pricing, reviews, and availability here. 

See also
21 Incredible Day Trips from Istanbul

Don’t Leave without Travel Insurance!

Finally, make sure you always travel to Turkey or anywhere in Europe with a valid travel insurance policy. Istanbul is a very safe place to travel, but accidents or theft can easily ruin your trip if you don’t have the travel insurance coverage to recover the losses. Recently my aunt fell on a train in France and needed surgery, but luckily her travel insurance covered the costs in full. Thank goodness!

For travel insurance, I use World NomadsI’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

Pin Istanbul Quotes for Your Trip to Turkey

Istanbul Quotes