Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar are marvelous and all, but there is much more to Istanbul than these prominent and immensely crowded tourist attractions. Luckily, Istanbul is gigantic enough that you can spend weeks exploring its lesser-known corners. Here are 6 places and activities often overlooked by tourists:

What to do in Istanbul: 6 Non-Touristy Places for Travelers to Visit

1. Istanbul Toy Museum

Nestled in the Göztepe neighborhood of the Kadıköy district, İstanbul Toy Museum is a historical mansion that features over 4,000 unique toys with some dating back to the 1700’s. Turkish author and poet Sunay Akın founded the museum and accumulated the toys from countless auctions and antique shops in 40 different countries. Your inner child will marvel at the vast array of familiar and unusual figurines—you may even encounter a playful novelty that you never even knew existed.

Best time of year to visit: All year round. Closed on Mondays.

Address: Ömer Paşa Cad. Dr. Zeki Zeren Sok. No: 17
34710 Istanbul, Turkey

Phone: +90 216 359 4550

2. Alkım Kitabevi (Alkım Bookstore)

Bibliophiles should make a beeline to Alkım Kitabevi, Istanbul’s largest bookstore. With a range of media including books, DVDs, and music, Alkım Kitabevi has something for everyone to enjoy. Situated on top of the bookstore is Franz Kafka Café which boasts an impressive view of the Bosphorus and European side of Istanbul.

Best time of year to visit: All year round.

Address: Vişnezade Mah. Dolmabahçe Cad. No: 65
34398 Istanbul, Turkey

Phone: +90 212 259 3126

3. Odadan Kaçış

Located near Taksim Square, Odadan Kaçış is an “escape the room” game that begins right as you step through the doors. The game is bursting with mystery and challenging puzzles involving codes and locked doors. With an hour time limit, you and up to 4 other people can immerse yourselves in a thrilling story while cleverly navigating your way out of a spooky space.

Best time of year to visit: All year round. Make a reservation in advance.

Address: Şehit Muhtar Mahallesi
İstiklal Caddesi Zambak Sokak No: 9/2
34433 Beyoğlu / Istanbul, Turkey

Phone: +90 546 865 2014

4. Kariye Museum (The Chora Church)

Formerly a Byzantine church turned Ottoman mosque and now a museum, Kariye Museum is a magnificent and historically significant site housing rare Byzantine-era frescoes and mosaics. The stunning artwork depicts stories from the Bible including the Journey of the Magi as well as the Life of the Virgin Mary. This museum is seldom crowded, so it’s an ideal place if you prefer to appreciate history without being distracted by an abundance of visitors.

Best time of year to visit: All year round. Closed on Wednesdays.

Address: Ayvansaray Mh., Kariye Cami Sk. No:26
34087 Fatih / Istanbul, Turkey

Phone Number: +90 212 631 9241

5. Istanbul Cooking School

Istanbul Cooking School offers a fun, scrumptious, and educational way to experience Turkish culture. The class starts with a stroll through the local market where you can examine produce and learn about various ingredients and flavors. Afterward, you will prepare a multi-course meal while the host shares the history behind each dish. This is one of those exceptional activities where you can engage all of your senses.

Best time of year to visit: All year round. Make a reservation in advance.

Address: Kamer Hatun Mahallesi
Tarlabaşı Bulvarı 117/2
34435 Beyoğlu / Istanbul, Turkey

Phone: +90 545 554 6677

6. Miniatürk

Spanning over 650,000 square feet, Miniatürk is one of the largest miniature parks in the world. Miniatürk is an outdoor attraction that features over a hundred 1:25 scale models of structures from in and around the country. The park contains miniature versions of numerous cultural sites and buildings such as the İzmir Clock Tower and Ishak Pasha Palace. If you don’t have much time to explore Turkey, you can unleash your inner Godzilla and tower over small versions of tourist attractions at this miniature park located at the north-eastern shore of Golden Horn.

Best time of year to visit: Spring through autumn. Winter may be too damp and snowy.

Address: Sütlüce Mahallesi, İmrahor Caddesi
34445 Sütlüce - Beyoğlu / Istanbul, Turkey

Phone: +90 212 222 2882

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This article was written by Justina Tran.