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Seven Hills Restaurant Istanbul – Best Rooftop in Sultanahmet (2024)! 

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If you’re looking for a restaurant with magical views in Sultanahmet then look no further than Seven Hills Restaurant in Istanbul.

They have a panoramic terrace that overlooks Sultanahmet Square with unrestricted views over the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. 

It’s the perfect place for photos and they even have a dedicated area where you can capture your visit!

Both times I have stayed at the Seven Hills Hotel, I’ve paid with my own pennies and I would do so again in a heartbeat for the location and views.

Here is how to visit the Seven Hill Restaurant Rooftop in Istanbul, the best time to go and what to order.

Seven Hills Restaurant Rooftop Istanbul

Seven Hills Restaurant Rooftop

The reason why most people want to visit Seven Hills Restaurant is due to their beautiful terrace that has magical views of Sultanahmet. 

This is why I always book to stay here as you get access to this rooftop day and night during your stay.

You can dine on delicious freshly caught seafood from the Marmara Sea or a traditional Turkish breakfast whilst overlooking historic monuments like the Topkapi Palace. 

Also, you can see boats sailing down the mighty Bosphorus Strait with views over towards the Galata Tower!

Seven Hills Restaurant Istanbul
Views over Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace

Indulge in a traditional Turkish breakfast 

The one thing I can never get over at Seven Hills is the size of their Turkish breakfasts. 

Every morning, I’d be treated to eggs, shakshouka, sausage, fries, boiled eggs, Simit, fresh fruit and salads with six dips!

It’s a massive feast and I always struggle to eat it all but you can wash it down with a Turkish tea or coffee, ice cold water and fresh juice. 

As I was staying in the hotel, this breakfast was included in my stay. I loved the backdrop of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque whilst I dined.

If you’re not a guest, they serve up set menus that start from around 600-800 TL per person (£15-20). Or, you can order individual dishes and drinks that are cheaper. 

Turkish Breakfast at Seven Hills restaurant
Turkish breakfast at Seven Hills restaurant

What else do they serve at Seven Hills Restaurant?

Breakfast is served until noon and then they serve up an A La Carte menu of traditional Turkish food.

As you’re so close to the Marmara Sea, they have an extensive seafood menu with fresh catches of the day.

You’ll find sea bass, fresh shrimp, grilled swordfish, sea bream, lobster, langoustines and so much more!

There are also meat options like lamp chops, steak fillets, meatballs and Chicken shish kebab.

Like with most restaurants in Istanbul, all meat served here is Halal. There are also vegetarian/vegan options available. 

Although the dishes are a little expensive, you’re really paying for the 360-degree panorama and the great photo opportunities.

Most restaurants around Sultanahmet Square have similar tourist prices so you may as well eat in one that has a fantastic view!

Seven Hills restaurant Istanbul

Take picture-perfect photos of Sultanahmet!

As well as seats for dining, the Seven Hills Restaurant have a dedicated area of their panoramic terrace set up for taking photos. 

So, you can get the perfect photo regardless of where you’re sitting and you won’t bother anyone who is eating their meal. It’s perfect!

On one side of the terrace, you can take photos with the Hagia Sophia and on the other you can take a photo with the Blue Mosque.

It can be quite hectic throughout the day so I would recommend visiting early morning to avoid having to wait too long for your photos. 

They also have an option to feed the seagulls but I wasn’t sure how to feel about the whole thing. It felt weird but at least the birds were being fed rather than bothering guests for their meal?

Seven Hills restaurant Istanbul

Capture Sultanahmet at night 

Although sunset is a great time to visit the Seven Hills Restaurant, I also think staying until nightfall is magical.

All the monuments and fountains in Sultanahmet Square light up and you can see the twinkling lights of the city reflected in the Bosphorus.

On a clear night, you could see stars and the moon overhead and it was just stunning. It’s the perfect setting for a nightcap of Turkish apple tea before bed. 

As Istanbul is predominantly Islamic, alcohol isn’t widely consumed but they do have a fully stocked bar with beer, wine and spirits on the menu.

Be warned that your drink will come at a huge premium due to alcohol taxes. 

Seven Hills Restaurant at night

Seven Hills Restaurant opening times

Seven Hills Restaurant is open from 8 am to 11 pm throughout the year. I found Google incorrect or out of date most of the time in Istanbul. To be sure, it’s best to check the website before you go.

Note that in the winter season, the outdoor rooftop terrace may not be open for dining but you can still go up there to take photos with the views. 

There is an indoor restaurant with the same fabulous vista but you’ll see it through windows. 

You can easily view Seven Hills’ rooftop terrace from Sultanahmet Square, so you can see if/when it’s open for photos before you head up.

Seven Hills Restaurant Rooftop

Do I need to reserve a table? 

It is highly recommended to make a reservation for the Seven Hills Restaurant, especially if you want to sit on the terrace. It’s one of the most famous and popular rooftop restaurants in all of Istanbul.

If you don’t manage to get a reservation, I would recommend visiting when they open to guarantee a table. If not, you may have to queue for a while to be seated throughout the day.

I stayed over at the Seven Hills Hotel so I had access to the rooftop every day and night. But, even hotel guests didn’t get priority for tables.

I thought this was bad actually as it’s not a cheap hotel. Most of the time when a hotel has a rooftop bar or panoramic restaurant, hotel guests are given priority. 

So, if you are staying prepare to wait a while for a table if you get up past 9 am! They do have a lower floor with indoor tables but I always find the rooftop better for views. 

Click here to make a reservation at Seven Hills Restaurant 

Seven Hills Restaurant Istanbul

What is the best time to visit Seven Hills Restaurant? 

I always think that the best time to visit this gorgeous rooftop would be in the morning when they open.

That way, you get your pick of tables before it gets too busy and you can fill up on a great Turkish breakfast for a day of sightseeing in Sultanahmet.

I always recommend visiting the main attractions like Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern and Topkapi Palace in the morning – and these are all just a few minutes walk away from the restaurant. 

Alternatively, a great time to go would be at sunset for that magical soft lighting and colours changing in the sky. 

But, you can expect the terrace to be really busy at this time and you may have to wait a while for a table if you don’t have a reservation.

Seven Hills Restaurant Breakfast

Can you visit for photos even if you don’t eat at the restaurant?

As far as I could tell, anyone can visit the rooftop terrace photo area without eating at the restaurant. 

The photo area is actually amazing as it means that you’re not disturbing anyone eating while you get your photos. Before, it used to be super awkward with people leaning over you.

The glass boundaries all have ‘Seven Hills Hotel’ plastered all over them so my thinking is they get some great free advertising with their name posted all over social media! 

Although it is free to visit, I always recommend supporting local businesses and eating at the restaurant.

Some restaurants with great views usually have less than great service/food in my experience. But, the staff in Seven Hills are great and the food is really tasty!

Seven Hills Restaurant Istanbul Rooftop

Why not stay at the Seven Hills Hotel?

Did you know that the Seven Hills Restaurant is actually part of the Seven Hills Hotel?

So, guests can enjoy a traditional Turkish breakfast on their rooftop terrace every morning as part of their stay! Plus, you can visit this terrace at night for a drink before you go to bed. 

I’ve stayed here twice now and loved my stay here every time. The rooms are comfortable and the staff are always happy to help you. 

The hotel is centrally located to all the main attractions so you’re just a few minutes walk to places like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Topkapi Palace.

Just make sure to book the Seven Hills Hotel ‘Special Category’ in Sultanahmet not the Seven Hills Palace as they couldn’t be in further locations from each other!

Click here to book your stay at Seven Hills Hotel

Seven Hills Hotel Istanbul

Things to do in Sultanahmet, Istanbul 

Seven Hills Hotel is ideally located in Sultanahmet Square which is the historic area of Istanbul.

Here, you can visit palaces, temples and monuments from the Roman and Ottoman Empires as well as underground cisterns and historic bazaars. 

Sultanahmet Square Istanbul
Sultanahmet Square

Topkapi Palace 

Ah, the magical Topkapi Palace! This is one of my favourite attractions in all of Istanbul. 

This majestic residence was the official seat of the Ottoman Empire from the 1460s until the Dolmabahce Palace was built in 1856. 

It was originally founded by Sultan Mehmed II (The Conqueror) and was expanded by his successors over time. 

It has four courtyards, two monumental gates and over 400 rooms including an extensive Harem, presentation hall, library, kitchens and a mosque containing holy relics! 

Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace Salutation Gate
Topkapi Palace Harem

Today, many of these rooms are open as exhibits to explore and you could honestly spend a whole day at Topkapi Palace if you have the time.

There are several ticket options but I wouldn’t skip the Harem. Visiting comes at an extra cost but I think it’s well worth the money as this area has the most beautiful rooms of the entire palace.

I’ve been here three times and I swear I still haven’t seen everything as it’s like a labyrinth.

After your visit, be sure to stop by the Hagia Irene, a historic Eastern Orthodox Church on the grounds. 

You can visit the outer gardens of the palace for free and these take you for a stroll near the Bosphorus Strait which is lovely.

Topkapi Palace Harem
Inside Topkapi Palace Harem
Throne Room Topkapi Palace Harem
Throne Room inside the Harem

Hagia Sophia (Grand Mosque) & History Museum 

You really cannot leave Istanbul without stepping inside the Hagia Sophia, a religious building with a tumultuous history since the Eastern Roman Empire.

It’s been several churches, a mosque, a church-museum and now is officially the Grand Mosque. So, you’ll find lots of influences from Christianity and Islam inside.

They have recently started charging tourists to visit (€25) and there are usually huge queues at the entrance. One is to purchase tickets, the other is to go through security.

I have been to Hagia Sophia many times and I have never seen queues so long. It felt very unorganised and the line went at least 1km back to the Blue Mosque!

Even if you buy skip-the-line tickets online you can’t avoid the security queue and this is usually around an hour or longer. Try to avoid Fridays as they close for prayers and queues are always bigger.

Hagia Sophia Istanbul
Inside Hagia Sophia

My advice is to be there for opening time and, if you can, split your party to stand in both queues to save time. So, one waits to buy tickets and the other is in the security line.

Tourists can now only enter the upper gallery of the mosque and this has a view of the temple below. But, you get to see the beautiful mosaics and domed roof from up there. 

Shoes can be kept on for your visit but as an active place of worship, women will need to cover their heads.

When you purchase your tickets it’s worth adding on the Hagia Sophia History Museum, a new audio-visual experience that tells the amazing story of this monumental attraction. 

Note: If you identify as Muslim, from any country, you can enter Hagia Sophia through the main entrance on the ground floor for namaz (prayers) and you will not be charged.

Hagia Sophia Mosaics

Blue Mosque 

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque, is one of the prettiest temples in the city.

It was constructed in the 16th century during the Ottoman Empire and is still a working mosque to this day. 

If you thought the outside was stunning, just wait until you get inside! The details and patterns on the domed ceilings are outstanding. 

The Blue Mosque is free to visit and is open to visitors throughout the day outside of prayer times.

Your shoes must be taken off during your visit and women must cover their heads with a scarf. Also, mini skirts or shorts can’t be worn but it seemed to be pretty lax for men.

If you aren’t dressed appropriately, you can borrow a long skirt and scarf at the entrance of the mosque.

Blue Mosque Istanbul
Blue Mosque
Inside Blue Mosque Istanbul

Basilica Cistern

Another one of my favourite attractions in Istanbul is the mysterious Basilica Cistern which can be found beneath the streets of Sultanahmet.

Many call this Cistern the Subterranean Palace. It was built in the 6th Century by Emperor Constantine and then expanded by Emperor Justinian. 

It was completely filled with water once upon a time and would provide water to the royalty of Topkapi Palace, the seat of the Ottoman Empire. 

The most famous attractions are the upside-down Medusa heads. There are many theories about why they are upside down.

One is that they were recycled building material from the old Roman temples that used to stand here, the other is they were placed upside down to ward off evil spirits. 

Either way, it’s such a dramatic attraction. The colourful lights switch throughout your visit and there are art installations and performances throughout the day. 

Although well worth seeing it does draw huge crowds. I would get here for opening time to avoid long lines and for a quieter experience. 

Click here to read my complete guide for visiting the Basilica Cistern with more tips

Basilica Cistern Istanbul
Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern Medusa Head

Grand Bazaar / Egyptian Bazaar

If you’re looking for souvenirs or to do some shopping, you must visit the Grand Bazaar! 

It’s one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the entire world and was established in the 15th century.

It has 61 streets and over 4,000 shops inside as well as a book bazaar and antiques section.

It is quite touristy so expect tourist prices but don’t be afraid to barter as they will mark the prices up a lot if you’re not Turkish! 

Grand Bazaar Istanbul
Grand Bazaar

Also, try not to engage with any stalls you’re not interested in purchasing items from or you could be there all day. The sellers here are relentless! Most of the shops sell fake designer stuff.

For a more local experience, I would opt for the Egyptian Bazaar near Eminönü which I prefer.

This area is also lively but they have more authentic Turkish souvenirs and foodie gifts like baklava, spices, sweets, tea, coffee etc. 

Egyptian Bazaar istanbul
Egyptian Bazaar

Read more of my Istanbul travel guides

How to visit Beyazıt State Library in Istanbul

Things to do in Balat – Istanbul’s most colourful area

How to spend a weekend in Istanbul

The most Instagrammable places in Istanbul

The sad story of the Rainbow Steps of Istanbul

Hafiz Mustafa 1864 – best Baklava in Istanbul

Top 10 Istanbul experiences 

Save the Seven Hills Restaurant Rooftop for later! 

Seven Hills Restaurant Istanbul Rooftop