You have to wait for your next flight, and that means more than 6 hours. You started thinking about what to do in Istanbul airport for 6 hours, right? Here is an opportunity to visit the city, albeit a bit! You can reach anywhere by public transport vehicles in the city. It’s only a matter of time before you decide where you want to go. If you want to learn what to do on a long layover in Istanbul, you can visit all of the old city. Here are some tips about in Istanbul layover what to do. So let’s start:
Small warnings first: Store your bags at the airport. There are various cabinets for this. Find out in detail how early you need to be at the airport before your next trip. Consider the time you will spend on your way to and from Istanbul. So you can easily understand if you have enough time to get going. If you have plenty of time, buy an Istanbulkart and take the first public transport from the airport to Sultanahmet, Taksim, Karaköy or similar.
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How do I get from the airports to the city? How much will it take?
You can go to Sultanahmet with Havaist vehicles. The average duration is 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Sabiha Gokcen Airport
You can go to Kadikoy by Havabus. From Kadikoy, you can go to Eminönü by ferry and from here you can take the tram to Sultanahmet. Havabus travel takes approximately 60 minutes, while the total duration of the ferry and tram ride takes 25-30 minutes on average.
You can use your credit card or Istanbulkart in the vehicles you get from the airports and only Istanbulkart in others. Let’s remind you that you need to calculate the return when calculating the duration. Travel times vary with traffic.
1. Visit the Blue Mosque and museums
When you come to Sultanahmet, you will find that Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Sultanahmet Square are only a few steps away. You can visit Topkapi Palace, which is a five-minute walk from Hagia Sophia, and the Archaeological Museum, just across the street.
Related post: Best Museums in Istanbul Which You Must Visit
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2. Go shopping at the Grand Bazaar
If you feel like shopping, walk from Sultanahmet to the Grand Bazaar. It takes 12 to 13 minutes. You can buy souvenirs and local Turkish products at the Grand Bazaar. Grand Bazaar, one of the biggest covered bazaars in the world, is fascinating with its maze-like streets. Everything from ceramics and antiques to textiles and jewelry is sold here. If you get hungry, you can buy food from the street vendors or small restaurants nearby, such as çigkofte, chickpea rice. You can read our article about street vendors in Istanbul.
Related post: The 5 Best Places to Visit in Istanbul
3. Explore Eminonu and the Spice Bazaar
Just 5 minutes walk from the Grand Bazaar to Eminonu. The Spice Bazaar is a paradise for gourmets. You can buy fresh local cheeses, spices, Turkish delight, teas, dried fruits, nuts and many more. For dinner, go to the Hamdi Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Istanbul. (One of the big buildings closest to the beach – see big signs). Eat Turkish kebab and lahmacun (Turkish pizza with minced meat) here.
Related Post: 12 Free Things to Do in Istanbul
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4. Where else?
If you have come to Istanbul before and want to see other places than Sultanahmet, we recommend Taksim and Karaköy. You can come to Taksim by public transport vehicles from the airports.
It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Istanbul Airport to Havaist to Taksim. Transportation from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Taksim is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. These times may vary according to city traffic.
After coming to Taksim Square, descend to the Metro Station, take the funicular to the Tunel. The journey takes 5 minutes. After getting off at Tunel, go to Galata Tower, then you can walk to Karakoy. This hip neighborhood was once the most important port and trade center. It is now full of popular boutiques, cafes, galleries and restaurants. Enjoy a fine meal at Karakoy Restaurant, where you can taste classic Turkish delicacies in a modern setting. While in Karaköy, stop by Karakoy Gulluoglu and eat baklava. If you have time, walk from Karaköy to Tunnel and then to Taksim Square. Stroll down İstiklal Street, one of the world’s never-sleeping streets. The largest catholic church in Istanbul, St. Anthony of Padua, Santa Maria Draperis Church, Union Church of Istanbul, are among the churches you can visit. For shopping, try the Atlas Passage, Aznavur and Aleppo Passage. Terkos passage is in the outlet or defective clothes and they are very cheap.
5. Take photos of Balat’s cats
If you want to visit the historical streets and the shops with antique shops, go to Balat. You need some more time for that. You can get to Eminönü by taking the T1 line from Sultanahmet by tram and from here you can take the 99A, 99Y or 41 İETT bus to Balat. If you want to use the only means of transportation, you can go to Sultanahmet by 99, 36CE, 44B, 99A. However, we would like to remind you that the journey time will be extended. From here, you can start wandering around the Ecological Patriarchate of Istanbul (including St. George’s Church) and stroll through the streets of all the beautiful, ancient Greek-Orthodox houses. In recent years, Balat has become well known for its colorful hipster cafes and a wide variety of flavors.
Now you know what to do on a layover in Istanbul. We hope to see you not only in layover but also in Istanbul in wider times. Have a nice trip!
PLANNING A TRIP TO ISTANBUL?
Uncover the top hidden gems of the city, suggested by locals themselves. Get in-depth local knowledge and skip the tourist traps with covid-friendly and up-to-date trip plans designed by locals with HeyTripster!
Born and raised Istanbulite. Keeping an eye on the opportunity to explore this ancient city even more. Trying to do the best for nature.