Suggested Itineraries


With only one day to explore İstanbul you will only be able to focus on one or two major attractions. 

The most obvious bet would be Topkapı Palace where you could easily spend most of a day. If you have any energy left afterwards you could also pop into the Blue Mosque and take a turn around the historic Hippodrome or Gülhane Park, places without opening hours to worry about. 

If you've already seen the palace and the weather is good you could instead spend a happy day one of the long Bosphorus boat rides that take you as far as Anadolu Kavağı whence you can climb the hill and gaze out over the Black Sea.

Alternatively, you could explore the other historic sites of Sultanahmet - Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Yerebatan Cistern, the Archaeological Museum and the Great Palace Mosaic Museum - as they are all handily close together. If that is your plan you could even drop into the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı right in Sultanahmet Square to try out a Turkish bath originally designed for the wife of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. Don't expect it be cheap though. 


If you want to devote your day to shopping there are several obvious options. It would be easy, if exhausting, to spend the whole day in the Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar) although that's a rather touristy experience. 

More managable are the Mısr Çarşısı (Egyptian or Spice Market) at Eminönu or the Arasta Bazaar beside the Blue Mosque. If you visit either of these you will still have at least half a day left for other sightseeing.

More interesting would be to take the tram and funicular to Tünel where you can explore the many small shops and trendy boutiques around the Galata Tower. 


If time is tight and you don't know the city well you might want to eat in Sultanahmet rather than venturing further afield and worrying about transport connections.

For something fairly authentic and not too expensive try Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta on Divan Yolu which has been dishing up meatballs to enthusiastic locals since 1920.

Alternatively in summer you could take a taxi to nearby Kumkapı or Samatya to eat outdoors at one of the many fish restaurants.

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