What to see in Istanbul in 7 days

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Thinking of Istanbul comes to mind the classic postcard image with the sweet shapes of mosques printed in a breathtaking red sunset, giving life to the idea of ​​a fairytale city. We assure you that it is all true! The immense charm of its Byzantine-style buildings and the colors of local craftsmanship in the Grand Bazaar give Istanbul a magical atmosphere, typical of the Middle East. The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, just to name a few, are i greatest symbols of the city and they express all Ottoman and Islamic art also through a series of colored mosaics.

Here what to see in Istanbul in 7 days!


  1. 1 day
  2. 2 day
  3. 3 day
  4. 4 day
  5. 5 day
  6. 6 day
  7. 7 day
  8. How much does a week cost in Istanbul
  9. Before leaving: useful tips
  10. User questions and comments

1 day

The visit of Istanbul starts from Topkapi Palace (Wed-Mon 9: 00-18: 00, guided tour with entrance ticket recommended). It is a huge structure surrounded by large gardens that houses theformer residence of the Ottoman sultan, the imperial and church mint. In a few steps you will reach the Hagia Sophia (Tue-Sun 9: 00-18: 00) among the most famous and photographed churches of Istanbul, the greatest example of Byzantine architecture rich in mosaics inside.

From there, a few steps away, we recommend the Green Corner restaurant (60,00 TRY, € 8,50).
After lunch you will be close to the Basilica Cistern (Mon-Sun 9: 00-17: 30), an underground cistern measuring 140x70 m with 12 rows of 28 decorated and non-Byzantine-style columns. Shortly thereafter you will find the Blue Mosque (Mon-Sun 8: 30-16: 45, you can combine the Blue Mosque guided tour with the old city or Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia), more great Byzantine masterpiece whose name derives from 21.043 turquoise ceramic tiles.

End the day in Sultanahmet Square with Turkish dinner at Teras Restaurant (TRY 70,00, € 8,70) then enjoy the evening in the main square of the historic center.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 1,1 / 13 min
  • Places visited: Topkapi Palace (TRY 100,00 / € 14,00), Hagia Sophia (TRY 100,00 / € 14,00), Basilica Cistern (TRY 20,00 / € 2,90), Blue Flies (free) , Sultanahmet Square (free)
  • Daily shopping: € 50,00
  • Lunch at Green Corner (Get directions), Dinner at Teras Restaurant (Get directions)

2 day

The day starts from the Mosaic Museum (Mon-Sun 9: 00-18: 00), with large collection of Byzantine mosaics, testimony of the splendors of Constantinople. Continue on foot towards Museum of Islamic Art (Tuesday-Sun 9: 00-17: 00) where ethnographic material, carpets and jewels representing the Islamic oriental culture are exhibited.

Then we get married in the Eminonu district with tram 1 to Cemberlitas and have lunch with a good kebab at Dönerci Şahin Usta (35,00 TRY, € 5,00).
After lunch, enter the famous Grand Bazaar (Mon-Sun 10: 00-18: 00), the largest covered market in Europe: enjoy a magical place full of colors and scents between spice shops and local crafts, the half-day shopping tour is very nice for a unique experience that will keep you busy all afternoon.

Just behind the Grand Bazaar is located Beyazit Square, the freedom square, where we suggest the Hasanpaşa Konağı for dinner, a great pub with a wide choice (50,00 TRY, € 7,20). Immediately afterwards, spend the evening in the streets of the adjacent Laleli district choosing from the many nightclubs, pubs and cocktail bars.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,6 km / 34 min
  • Places visited: Mosaic Museum (30,00 TRY / € 4,30), Museum of Islamic Art (20,00 TRY / € 2,90), Grand Bazaar (free), Beyazit Square (free), Laleli (free)
  • Daily shopping: € 20,00
  • Lunch at Dönerci Şahin Usta (Get directions), Dinner at Hasanpaşa Konağı (Get directions)

3 day

The day starts from Yeni Camii (Mon-Sun 6: 00-18: 00), also called New Mosque as it was born "only" in the 500s, compared to the most historic mosques in the city. From there a few steps away is the Egyptian Bazaar (Mon-Sun 8: 00-19: 00), mostly oriented towards sale of spices and food, whose name derives from having been made with the proceeds of taxes from Egypt.

For lunch we recommend the Hamdi Restaurant with typical cuisine (65,00 TRY, € 9,30).
After lunch, walk to the Eminonu pier and from there embark for a suggestive half-day cruise on the Bosphorus. You will cross the Istanbul Strait that connects the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, or the border between Europe and Asia, admiring the splendid coast and the beauties of the city from another perspective (tours and cruises start from € 10,00 and last about 4 hours, evening cruises with dinner also available).

Back in the city, take tram 1 from the pier to Cemberlitas and on foot, move to the Pierre Loti Roof Pub, an elegant restaurant with a terrace and a suggestive view of the city where you can dine and spend the evening with music and entertainment (120,00 TRY, € 17,00).

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,3 km / 31 min + 4 hour cruise on the Bosphorus
  • Places visited: Yeni Camii (free), Egyptian Bazaar (free), Bosphorus cruise (tour € 40,00)
  • Daily shopping: € 65,00
  • Lunch at Hamdi Restaurant (Get directions), Dinner at Pierre Loti Roof Pub (Get directions)

4 day

In the morning we leave from the Miniaturk Museum (Mon-Sun 9: 00-18: 00). It is located a little far from the historic center so the best way to reach it is by taxi, otherwise with buses 47C and 47E to the stop of the same name, but it takes a long time. It's a park of miniatures 1/25 scale with 105 models of structures located in and around Istanbul, ideal for spending a different and fun morning.

On leaving, stop for lunch at the Sahil Restaurant (15,00 TRY, € 2,10).
Afternoon take bus 44B from Sunnet Koprusu to Koprubasi to visit the Theotokos Pammakaristos Church (Mon-Sun 9: 00-17: 00), impressive Ottoman building now a museum as it is the structure that has the largest number of mosaics. Soon after, go from Sehit Yilmaz to Beyazit by bus 90B and visit the Suleiman Mosque (Mon-Sun 5: 00-22: 30), imperial mosque with a large and elegant courtyard.

For the evening move to Sultanahmet Square with tram 1 from Beyazit to Sultanahmet and dine at Fatih Belediyesi Sultanahmet Sosyal Tesisleri (50,00 TRY, € 7,20), then relax also for this evening in the most suggestive square of the city with a unique atmosphere.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 10,3 km / 2 h 19 min
  • Places visited: Miniaturk (20,00 TRY / € 2,90), Theotokos Pammakaristos Church (5,00 TRY / € 0,70), Suleiman Mosque (free), Sultanahmet Square (free)
  • Daily shopping: € 20,00
  • Lunch at Sahil Restaurant (Get Directions), Dinner at Fatih Belediyesi Sultanahmet Sosyal Tesisleri (Get Directions)

5 day

This day is dedicated to new part of Istanbul, reachable by tram 1. Karakoy is a young and modern district, full of cafes and shops. A few steps away is the Galata Tower (Mon-Sun 9: 00-20: 00, which can be visited with an interesting walking tour), a medieval stone building that with its 67 meters of height gives a beautiful view. 15 min away is the Museum of Innocence (Tue-Sun 10: 00-18: 00), a literary museum inspired by the novel of the same name by the Turkish writer Pamuk, which tells the life of the bourgeoisie of Istanbul.

For lunch stop at the nearby Cuma Cafe (40,00 TRY, € 5,70).
In the afternoon, take tram 1 from Kabatas Tramvay to Tophane to reach the Dolmabahçe Palace (Tue-Sun 9: 00-16: 00, which can also be visited with a half-day tour to learn more about the history) and visit the huge sultan's palace divided into three buildings (men, women and court life). It is the only structure with an Ottoman interior and Rococo exterior.

For dinner, take the cable car 1 from Kabatas to Taksim and stop by Musafir (TRY 40,00, € 5,70). End the day by discovering the bustling Taksim Square, beating heart of the nightlife of modern Istanbul.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 5,3 km / 1 h 16 min
  • Places visited: Karakoy (free), Galata Tower (TRY 25,00 / € 3,50), Museum of Innocence (TRY 50,00 / € 7,20), Dolmabahçe Palace (TRY 60,00 / € 8,50) , Taksim Square (free)
  • Daily shopping: € 35,00
  • Lunch at Cuma Cafe (Get directions), Dinner at Musafir (Get directions)

6 day

On this day we go to the discovery of Asian side of Istanbul. From Eminonu, Besiktas and Kabatas docks, several ferries depart daily for Uskudar. Once there, take a boat to the Maiden's Tower (Mon-Sun 9: 15-19: 00) located on an islet 200 meters from the coast where you can enjoy others Byzantine artwork and a 360 ° view on both sides of Istanbul.

Return to the mainland and take a nice walk along the seafront stopping for a quick lunch with a view at the Büfe Taner (22,00 TRY, € 3,10).
At the end, take the Marmaray metro to Kadikoy, another district of the Asian area, modern and colorful, full of shops and clubs. Here the things to do are endless: shopping for typical objects and products, relaxing in a café, or taking part in different experiences such as the gastronomic tour to discover the flavors of local street food.

To end the day, return to the European side with the Marmaray metro to Uskudar, then the ferry to Kabatas. Here, stop for dinner at the Terrace Restaurant for another typical meal with a view (TRY 40,00, € 5,70).

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 18,8 km / 3 h 55 min (including ferry rides)
  • Places visited: Uskudar (free), Maiden's Tower (30,00 TRY / € 4,30), Kadikoy (free), Taksim Square (free)
  • Daily shopping: € 20,00
  • Lunch at Büfe Taner (Get directions), Dinner at Terrace Restaurant (Get directions)

7 day

For the last day in Istanbul we recommend a trip out of town, a wonderful cruise to discover the Princes' islands (from € 42,00), a archipelago of 9 islands located in the Sea of ​​Marmara, facing the coast of the Asian side.
Ferries depart from every pier in the city (TRY 7,00, € 1,00). In the morning we leave for the largest, Buyukada, arriving at Adelario di Erfurt, where you will discover that there are no cars and you will have to proceed by bicycle or carriage to discover Ottoman buildings and nature.

For lunch we recommend Orasi Burasi, near the pier (50,00 TRY, € 7,20).
In the afternoon, move to nearby Heybeliada and set off from the pier to discover wonderful natural landscapes, with Mediterranean vegetation and blue sea on the horizon. Spend the rest of the day then return to Istanbul.

Also for the last evening we recommend Taksim Square and its nightlife. This time for dinner we suggest the Falafel House to fill up on this Middle Eastern delicacy and beyond (35,00 TRY, € 5,00).

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 9-hour tour, departs at 8am
  • Places visited: Princes' Islands, with Buyukada and Heybeliada islands (one way ferry TRY 7,00 / € 1,00; tour starting from € 40,00)
  • Daily shopping: € 50,00
  • Lunch at Orasi Burasi (Get directions), Dinner at Falafel House (Get directions)

How much does a week cost in Istanbul

NB: The costs expressed in the table above are to be intended per person.

Istanbul is one basically economic city where, obviously based on your travel needs, it is possible to make really low cost stays.

They are in fact easily found low cost flights between € 50,00 and € 100,00, rooms from € 10,00 per night and restaurants with an average cost of less than € 10,00, in addition to the fact that transportation is super cheap, many attractions are free or low cost, and tours and experiences are very affordable.

  • starting from € 100,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 15,00 per room -
  • traditional dinner at home with local family hop-on hop off bus tour 1 or 2 day tour with private guide transfer from hotel, airport or round trip
  • Total cost of a week, flight included: from € 450,00 per person

Before leaving: useful tips

  • When to visit Istanbul: spring, summer and early autumn are the best times, especially from May to October, with temperatures between 20 ° and 30 ° and very little rain - find out more
  • connected to Italy by Turkish Airlines, Pegasus and Alitalia, it has 2 airports well connected to the city. The airports are Istanbul Airport 40 km from the city (IST20 bus, 1 h 45 min, TRY 18,00 / € 2,50) and Sabiha Gökçen Airport 45 km (Havabus, 2 h, TRY 18,00 LT / € 2,50)
  • Sultanahmet for its proximity to all attractions, Karakoy and Kabatas for the nightlife. The neighborhoods in the Asian area are the cheapest, but also the most distant from the main points of interest
  • Getting around: on foot in the districts like Sultanahmet or those of the nightlife. To move between the districts it is necessary to rely on the means (metro and tram, single ride 4,00 TRY / € 0,60) - find out more
  • Local currency: Turkish Lira (TRY) / € 1,00 = TRY 7,00
  • Time zone: GMT + 3 (+ 2h compared to Italy)
  • Entry requirements: passport or identity card valid for expatriation provided it is in perfect condition and with a residual validity of at least 5 months; tourist visa not required for stays up to 90 days
  • Recommended cards and passes: Istanbul City Card, for buses, metro, trams and ferries (from € 10,00 -); Istanbul City Pass, with different attractions, duration between 3 and 7 days (from € 115,00 -)
  • Safety info: although Turkey is engaged in military operations on the borders with Syria and Iraq (areas obviously not recommended by the Farnesina), Istanbul is instead very far from these areas and there is no ascertained terrorist risk even if some attacks have occurred in the past. As in any big city, however, it is necessary to maintain a careful and respectful behavior of culture and traditions. All of Turkey is a very seismic area.

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