What to see in Istanbul in one day

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

It is the center of Turkey's economic and industrial life. Its historic areas have fully entered the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, it is the most populous metropolitan area of ​​the Old Continent (with its 15 million inhabitants) and since 2010 it is considered one of the European capitals of culture.

A mix of traditions, religious uses, particular gastronomy characterize the colorful city of Constantinople, known to the contemporary world with the name of Istanbul, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and one of the most fascinating cities in Europe and beyond.


  1. One day itinerary in Istanbul: Morning
  2. One day itinerary in Istanbul: Afternoon
  3. One day itinerary in Istanbul: Evening
  4. User questions and comments

One day itinerary in Istanbul: Morning

1 - Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia

Breakfast at The House Cafe Istiklal Caddesi made of pancakes, toast to be drenched in delicious local honey and the inevitable Turkish coffee. Prices are not always affordable, a breakfast for two costs approximately € 18,00 or 76,00 LT.

Leaving the cafe, the first stop is the famous one Blue Mosque, reachable by public transport in 23 minutes. Just take the metro from Karaköy İstasyonu stop and, once you get off in Sultanahmet, walk for about 3 minutes. The Blue Mosque is one of the "workhorses" of the city of Istanbul and admission is free (it is a good idea, however, to leave a small offer at the entrance); one diktat is to enter the mosque wearing a appropriate clothing: no to shorts and skirts, yes to a shawl on the head for the ladies).
Less than 5 minutes walk from the Blue Mosque is another architectural masterpiece, symbol of Turkish religion: the Hagia Sophia, whose entrance ticket costs only € 10,00.

2 - Topkapi and Basilica Cistern

After visiting the Basilica, always just 3 minutes on foot we reach Topkapi (admission about € 13,00) and, once inside the suggestive building, let's head straight to the area of ​​the structure that boasts the highest density of tourist crowds: the Harem. We close this morning of visit to Istanbul with Tank, which is only a 4-minute walk from Topkapi and which can often be enjoyed quickly due to the lack of queues at the entrance. Also in this case we pay a ticket of € 10,00 and we conclude our morning characterized by visits to the main religious monuments of the city.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 4,7 km / 1 h 1 min
  • Places visited: Blue Mosque (free offer), Hagia Sophia (€ 10,00), Topkapi Palace (€ 13,00), Basilica Cistern (€ 10,00)
  • Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Hippodrome walking tour
  • Where to have breakfast: The House Cafe Istiklal Caddesi - Get Directions

One day itinerary in Istanbul: Afternoon

1 - Grand Bazaar

Lunch atAntakya restaurant, a steakhouse known for its irresistible traditional Turkish dishes and excellent fish dishes, with an excellent quality-price ratio (around € 80,00 for a lunch for four people, including dessert). The restaurant can be reached from the Cistern by taking public transport from the Sultanahmet stop.

After lunch, there is nothing better to promote digestion than dedicating the afternoon to a shopping spree, walking to the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul.
Carpets, fabrics, all kinds of souvernir can be found walking the streets of this huge and popular covered market. The only sore point is the price of the merchandise, not always accessible to the "mere mortal"; the Grand Bazaar, however, deserves to be seen, because it is to be considered one of the main attractions of the city, representing its most lively and "cosmopolitan" soul.

3 - Eminönü and Galata Bridge markets

The choice to dedicate the afternoon in Istanbul to the pursuit of more "profane" activities - such as, shopping! - continues heading towards Eminonu, following the trail of markets where you can conclude profitable deals that will give us the opportunity to return to Italy with a "piece" of Turkey. Eminou can be reached on foot in 13 minutes, via Mahmutpaşa Ykş., Or by taking the metro from Beyazit. We conclude this extraordinary afternoon by walking in the direction of the suggestive Galata bridge, just a 6-minute walk from Eminönü.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,1 km / 26 min
  • Places visited: Grand Bazaar, Eminönü, Galata Bridge
  • Walking tour from the old city to Grand Bazaar
  • Where to have lunch: Antakya Restaurant - Get directions

One day itinerary in Istanbul: Evening

1 - Taksim Square and Dinner

It's time to go into the center, heading towards the most famous square in Istanbul: Partition. We can reach the "heart" of the former Turkish capital in just over a quarter of an hour, first taking the metro from Karaköy İstasyonu and then the cable car from Kabatas. It is in this suggestive square that we will look for the right location for dinner. Just 9 minutes by public transport, taking the subway from Yenikapi, we reach Ficcin, a typical restaurant with affordable prices, considering that the places in Istanbul do not offer cheap meals (the average price of a dinner with all courses, including dessert, is about € 40,00 per person).

2 - Evening in Hamam

Time passes and we certainly cannot fail to conclude this short but intense journey through the streets of Istanbul by allowing ourselves a pleasant, typical ritual of the city: thehamam, better known as a Turkish bath. Many facilities are open until 23 pm and near Ficcin, just 00 minutes on foot, is thethe Hammam Street. Like all structures of this type, the prices are quite high (generally, based on the treatments carried out you can get to pay from € 30,00 to € 50,00 per person) but, like all the experience lived in this magical city, it will be worth it.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,1 km / 26 min
  • Places visited: Taksim square, Hamam Sokak (€ 30,00 - 50,00)
  • Traditional Turkish bath in Sultanahmet
  • Where to dine: Ficcin - Get directions

Before leaving: useful tips

Visiting the metropolis of Istanbul in a single day is a difficult undertaking, as it will immediately be impossible to enjoy all the extraordinary beauties, architectural and not only, offered by the former Turkish capital. Combine business with pleasure, alternating cultural moments and religious visits to a stop at the bazar or in a typical local in the city, it could be the key to living to the fullest Istanbul in 24 hours. To get the best results in such a tight time frame, however, it will be essential to follow some simple tips so as not to ruin this day entirely dedicated to visiting the metropolis.

  • Flaunt a suitable outfit this very special adventure on the streets of the city is a must. Go ahead, therefore, a comfortable clothes and shoes, you will walk a lot!
  • Get one city ​​map it could prove to be a precious help in not getting lost among monuments and typical shops;
  • To avoid long queues in front of the main attractions of the city, it is good to move in advance; at the same time, however, you have to allow yourself all the time you need to enjoy the beauties that Instabul has to offer. Don't rush, therefore: every inch of this city is worth being fully experienced.
  • If you decide to extend your stay to enjoy Istanbul "by night" to the fullest, you can consult our offers for accommodation in Istanbul.

What not to see: the attractions that are better to give up

Unfortunately, there are numerous attractions in the city that, especially due to lack of time, we had to exclude. The excess of queues, directly proportional to the short time available to us, prevented us from visiting the famous Racecourse and Museum of Modern Art Istanbul (enjoyable, in our opinion, only in a trip lasting more than 24 hours). There Galata Tower, worthy of note and to be explored to the top, was penalized for the same reason, while the long and mundane course of Istiklal Caddesi it can become a real "trap": the "mundane" area of ​​the city, in fact, presents not a few pitfalls, due to the large number of tourists who frequent it and the difficulty of finding, within the course, worthy accommodation facilities of note, and it is recommended for those groups of friends who love to breathe the cosmopolitan air of Istanbul and who choose to stay in the city for at least a week, to better enjoy Istanbul "by night".

  1. Racecourse;
  2. Museum of Modern Art;
  3. Galata Tower;
  4. Istiklal Caddesi

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