Istanbul is one of the most popular cities in Turkey. With a population of over 14 million, in Turkey, it’s known as the city that never sleeps. People come to Istanbul for all sorts of reasons; entertainment, history, business and more. But one thing they all have in common is that they’re looking for ways to make the most of their time in the city. To help first-time visitors we’ve prepared a 2-day Istanbul tour to ensure an enjoyable trip.
First Day in Your Istanbul Itinerary
One of the first things you’ll notice when you start to plan your trip to Istanbul is just how many must-see places of historic interest there are, especially in the Fatih region. Therefore, on the first day of your trip to Istanbul, we recommend you focus on the historic sites:
1. Hagia Sophia Museum
Hagia Sophia Museum is the first place you should visit on arrival in Fatih. The Hagia Sophia Museum, in its current form, is actually a mosque but when it was originally built to be a church. This important historic building was built in the old city centre between 532-537 during the reign of the Byzantine Empire.
Open Hours: 09:00 – 17:00, Mondays 09:00 – 19:00
Location: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
Phone Number: (0212) 522 17 50
Related Post: Top Places of Worship in Istanbul
2. Topkapı Palace Museum
A must-see for all visitors with an interest in history, Topkapi Palace was the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. It still survives to this day and the imposing baroque-style building is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. Basilica Cistern
The biggest covered cistern in Istanbul will fascinate you with its modern aesthetic lighting system. You’ll also see an ancient Medusa head statue as you walk through the cistern. The ceiling is bricked and cross-vaulted.
After visiting these three buildings, why not spend your first evening in Istanbul dining at a fish restaurant in Fatih.
4. The Grand Bazaar
No doubt you’ll want to visit an authentic bazaar to help you get to know the oriental culture of Istanbul? You can buy dry coffee, various authentic kitchen utensils, textiles, sweets and gold from this historic bazaar that has been in existence for nearly 300 years and contains approximately 4000 shops.
Open Hours: 08:00 – 19:00
Location: Beyazıt, Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul
5. Spice Bazaar
One of the oldest covered bazaars in Istanbul where you’ll find many reasonably priced products. A nice place to visit, especially for buying authentic souvenirs.
Open Hours: 08:00 – 19:00, Saturdays 08:00 – 19:30, Sundays 09:30 – 19:00
Location: Rüstem Paşa, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul
Phone Number: (0212) 513 65 97
Second Day in Your Istanbul Itinerary
On your second day in Istanbul, it may make sense to get to know the streets of the city better and walk around in open spaces. Therefore we have selected the following destinations for you.
1. Istiklal Avenue
The most important point of Beyoğlu in terms of culture, art, and vitality is Istiklal Avenue. This street is approximately 1.4 kilometers long and other neighborhoods in Beyoğlu can be reached via the side streets leading off of it. Many famous brand shops are located on this lively street.
2. Taksim Square
Taksim Square is the name given to this very large pedestrian area located at the entrance to Istiklal Avenue. Throughout the year Taksim Square is host to many fairs, exhibitions, municipal concerts and much more. It’s a delightful place to visit, especially on summer evenings, and will give you a glimpse of the true Istanbul.
3. Galata Tower
Built in 528, this structure is 67 metres high and remains intact. There are many cafes and boutiques around the building and it is a very popular tourist attraction. You may have to wait a little while to get a seat from which to look out at the panoramic view of Istanbul.
Related Post: The 10 Best Istanbul Landmarks
4. Gülhane Park
Many Turkish poets have written poems and songs inspired by this beautiful historic Istanbul park. Whether you’re taking a stroll or just sitting on a bench watching the world go by, you’ll enjoy a moment of peace and tranquility just a short walk from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Miniatürk displays miniature versions of many of the key natural and historic treasures of Turkey. It’s an informative, enjoyable and original experience.
Open Hours: 09:00 – 19:00
Location: Örnektepe, İmrahor Cd. 7/1, 34445 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
Phone Number: (0212) 222 28 82