City in a Day: Istanbul

Istanbul city has incredible history, and that history gave Istanbul a lot to show. The city connects Asia to Europe. Bosporus strait flows from the middle, joining Black sea to the gulf of Marmara further to the Mediterranean sea. City is ever growing and hence its stretches many miles on the both sides. We have picked best spots in the city, which you do not want to miss on your day trip to Istanbul.  

Istanbul, photo by vedat zorluer

Things to remember:

Istanbul has cold winters, Mediterranean summer. it has 2 active airports, one on European side (Ataturk airport) and Asian side(Sabiha Gökçen airport) each and another one(third) is under construction. Railways also divided on both sides, there are good public transport, buses are often crowded, although subway system works very well in Istanbul. Turkish Lira is currency, Time zone is UTC+2. 

If you are travelling with Turkish airlines, and have sufficient layover 6-24 hrs. in Istanbul, they have Istanbul tour for you. see on Turkish airline website here.

What to see in Istanbul:

1. Hagia Sophia

The iconic Hagia Sophia is the most important tourist destination of Istanbul. It was the church during Byzantine kingdom. later it become a mosque in Ottoman time, now it is serving as a Museum. 

Hagia Sophia, photo by Falco
2. Blue Mosque

Blue mosque or Sultanahmet Camii or Sultan Ahmed mosque in Istanbul is built during time of Sultan Ahmet. it has blue tiles and it also carries mausoleum of Sultan Ahmet. It is designed in similar Byzantine style as Hagia sophia. so don’t get confused. It is just 5 min walk away from it.

Blue Mosque, photo by Engin Akyurt
3. Topkapi Palace

This palace is built by Sultan Mahmet II after conquering Constantinople. which was very difficult to conquer, because of Istanbul’s geographical location. The palace served as a royal residence during Ottoman empire and now it is a museum. 

Topkapi Palace – Photo by Falco
4. Basilica Cistern

It is one of the largest cistern in Istanbul. Basilica is next to Hagia Sophia. Cistern was built in Byzantine era. 

Basilica Cistern, photo by Salih Altuntaş
5. Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest covered market in the world. it has about 4000 shops, Because it is one of the oldest and historical market hence it is also one of the main attraction among tourists in Istanbul.  Bazaar is 15 min walk from Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.

6. Taksim Square

One of the City center of Istanbul. Taksim square has many things to offer. Shops, dining, nightlife. around old city and Bosporus. There is a Republic monument at the Square.

7. Dolmabahçe Palace 

Dolmabahçe Palace is the royal palace of ottoman empire in later stages from 1856. it was the new residence of Ottoman kings after moving from Topkapi palace. It is on the edge of Bosporus in Beşiktaş district and next to Beşiktaş football stadium. 

Dolmabache Palace, photo by Suyoung Kwak
8. Bosporus Cruise

One of the must do things in Istanbul. Bosporus strait is the natural border of Asia and Europe. try government owned agencies for a boat ride, they are cheaper. sometimes because of plankton, water of Bosporus becomes turquoise. 

Few more picked options around: 

Istanbul have many attractions and its not possible to visit everything in a day. but if still have time or want more places, try to see Galata tower, Galata Bridge, Sultanahmet Square, Suleymaniye Mosque, Little Hagia Sophia which is just a kilometer south of real museum.

Miniaturk is also a place to see. its a huge park showing small scale miniature models of turkish landmarks.  8 km from Hagia Sophia next to Zoo. 

Istanbul has many shopping areas and shopping malls, one of the famous is Istanbul Cevahir AVM(Shopping mall).

Are you visiting a city for 24 hrs or just for the daylight, are you staying here the night or have a flight layover. Friends Traveller will suggest you few of the best options.

write us for queries or suggestions…

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Alevrin ipek
Our Expert Friend from Istanbul