No matter how many or how few days you spend in Istanbul, there are some places that appear on everybody’s list of things to see and do. These places should be on your 7 days in Istanbul itinerary. Most of the attractions are in the historical peninsula. For a week in Istanbul, you should choose hotels within the tourist zone so it will be easy to get to them all.
Here’s how to plan your trip day by day:
Arrival in Istanbul
After landing at the airport in Istanbul and realizing your one week in Istanbul adventure just started, the first thing to do is buy an IstanbulKart. This card is accepted on all forms of public transport and makes travelling around the city cheaper. Using public transport gets you to the heart of the city and you will see all kinds of people. Travelling with local people will also inform you about the city.
Where can I get Istanbulkart?
There are kiosks selling Istanbulkart on the arrivals floor. Just follow the signs. Alternatively, you can buy one at Havaist payment points or from contracted exchange offices. There are also many places in the city that sell Istanbulkart including buffets, grocery stores, etc, most of which are located near bus stops.
You will need to make a prepayment after you receive your Istanbulkart. Also, you can do this wherever you purchase your card.
Sabiha Gokcen Airport
If your plane lands at Sabiha Gökçen Airport on the Anatolian side, there are many ways to get to the city. The cheapest and most convenient method of transport is HavaBus. You can get to the HavaBus stop from the passenger exit of the airport terminal building.
To go to Kadıköy
From 06:30 in the morning to 00:30, the shuttle departs every half hour. The average journey time is 60 minutes.
To go to Taksim
From 06:30 in the morning to 00:30, the shuttle departs every half hour. The average journey time is 90 minutes.
To go to Sultanahmet
After arriving in Taksim by Taksim Havabus, you can use the bus, minibus or underground transport for your onward journey.
- It is possible to get down to Taksim Metro and get to Kabataş by funicular and then to T1 Tram line to Sultanahmet.
- You can reach Yenikapı using the M2 line on Taksim Metro and walk to the tram stop in 5 minutes. From there you can reach Sultanahmet via Eminonu – Kabatas (T1) line.
- You can take a bus to Eminönü in Taksim and get off at Sultanahmet.
You can get to Kadıköy – Eminönü ferry or boat from Kadıköy Pier after arriving in Kadıköy by Havabus. After getting off at Eminönü, go to the Sirkeci tram stop and take the T1 line then get off at Sultanahmet.
You can get to the city by taxi and HavaIst from Istanbul Airport. Don’t forget that you cannot pay in cash when traveling with HavaIst. You must use Istanbulkart or a credit card.
You can get to many places in Istanbul with HavaIst. It’s most practical to stay in a tourist zone during your 7-day Istanbul visit. Our suggestions would be Taksim or Sultanahmet. You can go to Taksim with IST-19 and Sultanahmet with IST-1S.
The distance from Istanbul Airport to Taksim is 40 – 45 km. You can use BiTaksi App to see the estimated cost.
Where to stay?
If you are going to spend 7 days in Istanbul, you are likely to lose most of your time in traffic. For this reason, you may want to stay close to the city center, museums and other attractions. Galata Tower area is a good choice for this. You can see the hotels around Galata tower by clicking here. This link opens in a new tab. You can click and continue reading the article.
If you plan to visit museums you need to buy a Museum Pass Card which will allow you entrance to many museums in Istanbul. You can also benefit from discounts at the gift shop or cafés with the card.
Have you heard of the Skip the Line e-pass for Istanbul attractions?
It’s a super convenient way to visit more than 55 of the most important attractions (including Topkapı Palace, Galata Tower, Basilica Cistern, Dolmabahce Palace & more) in Istanbul without having to queue up in long lines for tickets. With the e-pass, you can breeze through the entrance and start exploring right away. You can use the e-pass facilities at 55 places in total, including Topkapı Palace, Galata Tower, Basilica Cistern, Dolmabahce Palace.
Day 1 – Historical Peninsula
The first day of your Istanbul 7 days itinerary starts! Depending on your arrival time, you may want to spend the day relaxing. Would you like to get rid of tiredness on your first day and be ready to start exploring the following morning? Here are our suggestions:
You can leave your things at the place you’re staying and head to the streets of Istanbul. If you are staying in Sultanahmet, go to Sultanahmet Square.. Between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, you will see three obelisks in the square. The names of these columns: Obelisk, Serpentine Column, Knitted obelisk.
These obelisks were used to divide the race track which was here at the Hippodrome during the Byzantine Empire. See? Every time you step foot on the streets of this magnificent city, you’re greeted by history.
You can see 20,000 magnificent handmade tiles inside the mosque. Ladies, you must cover your head with a scarf as you enter the mosque. Nobody is allowed to enter the mosque with shorts or similar short clothing.
If you are not too tired, we recommend you visit Hagia Sophia on your first day. This magnificent architectural structure was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinyanus in 532 as a church. Following the conquest of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453, Hagia Sophia was transformed from a church to a mosque.
Hagia Sophia became a mosque again in 2020 with the Presidential decree. On 24th of July, 2020, Friday prayers were performed again after 86 years. Visitors wishing to see the Hagia Sophia can enter without an entrance fee from now on.
Don’t forget that since it’s a mosque again, women and men have to wear clothes according to Islamic rules. For men and women, legs and arms need to be covered, no shorts or skirts above the ankle. Also, your clothes should not be tight fitting. And women have to cover their heads.
If you’re hungry, it’s time for a delicious Turkish meal. Considering you don’t feel hungry yet, you can just enjoy some snacks. But, if you are not very hungry, you can buy bagels, chestnuts or corn from street vendors.
If you want to eat a delicious kebab on your first day in Istanbul, Turgut Kebap is for you. You should eat lahmacun or kebab at Turgut Kebap, which serves Turkish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.
If you want to drink Turkish coffee after eating kebab, you can try Şerbethane. Sherbet is one of the things you should try. After eating, it is time for a Turkish coffee. Şerbethane is a great place for good Turkish coffee – if you want to try it. Click here for more information.
Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Bath
If you are not very hungry and the snacks were enough, but you want to relax with a massage, you should go to the Hagia Sophia Hürrem Sultan Bath. You will be bathed in the bath of the sultans and you will served as sultans were. Then you can dine in Mihri’s garden. There is more Turkish bath in Istanbul options that you should not miss!
Day 2 – Eminonu (Shopping & History Themed)
- Topkapi Palace
- Tiled Pavillon
- Museum of Islamic Science and Technology
- Istanbul Archeology Museum
- Hagia Irene
- Basilica Cistern
- Grand Bazaar
- Spice Bazaar
- Hamdi Restaurant
- Zumrut Buffet
- King Kokorec
- Cig Köfteci Ali Usta
It takes a lot of time to visit the grand palace. There are many parts of the palace you will want to see: the Harem, the Department of the Holy Treasures, important palace collections, the 86-carat Spoonmaker’s Diamond…
Located near the outer walls of Topkapi Palace, the mansion is located in the Istanbul Archeology Museum. In this museum, you’ll find tiles made in many cities in Türkiye.
Museum of Islamic Science and Technology
In the early ages of Islam science and discovery were very important. You can visit the museum to see displays of replicas of 9th and 16th-century scientific instruments used by Muslim scholars. The two-storey museum has 570 objects and cinevision shows.
Istanbul Archeology Museum
There are civilizations that lived in Anatolia for hundreds of years. Their ruins are of great importance for understanding history and art. This collection has more than a million works. Read other Istanbul museums and art galleries in Istanbul to decide where to visit next!
There are several concerts in Hagia Irene in the first courtyard of Topkapi Palace, which has wonderful acoustics. Many concerts are put on, especially in winter. Click here to see if there are concerts while you are in Istanbul.
The inverted head of Medusa, the weeping column and hundreds of years of history await you. Built between 527 and 565, the cistern is full of visual wonders.
Basilica Cistern was actually under the bigger restoration of its time, yet it opened its doors to visitors on 22 July 2022. Nowadays there are many exhibitions held in the Basilica Cistern and it offers you a magical experience.
Don’t forget to take your camera with you. Museum Pass Card is not used here and you will have to pay an entrance fee. Click here for updated fare information.
Here is an option for you to save time! Skip the line and get your ticket!
You can go to Eminönü by taking the T1 tram line from Sultanahmet. The journey takes a total of 15 minutes. If you want to walk, you can go from Sultanahmet to Eminönü in 20 minutes. This is a great opportunity to walk the streets of the historical peninsula and explore various places!
There are shops in Eminönü where you can buy authentic products. After arriving at Ankara Street, you can cross the Great Post Office Street and visit the Great Post Office Museum. Admission to the museum is free.
You may not want to shop on your trip today but just savour the Istanbul experience instead. You can always come back to the shop at a later date. The first time is just good to walk around. However, you should take note of what you want to buy here.
At the end of your 7 days Istanbul itinerary you may want to buy something and take it home. If you like Turkish Coffee, here you’ll find the store where Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi sells his freshest coffee. When you smell the freshly ground coffee beans, now you are close to the shop.
You can also get gifts such as backgammon and coffee sets for your loved ones. Please note: Souvenirs in the Grand Bazaar may be more expensive than those sold in the street so be sure to browse before making your purchases. For handmade private collections, try bargaining.
There are 66 streets in the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest bazaars in the world. There are 4,000 shops inside. At its busiest, there are half a million people in the bazaar!
It is a pleasure to visit the Grand Bazaar, where you can find interesting new products such as nuts, desserts and plants you have never seen before. You can also buy antiques, jewellery and handmade special design objects that you won’t find anywhere else.
Welcome to the world of spices. Here you’ll find spices you have never heard of before. The bazaar has been a place of trading continuously since 1664 to this day. In addition to spices, you can buy perfume essences, dried fruits, porcelain, ceramic products, gold, silver and textiles. Make sure you bargain before buying.
On one of the buildings facing Eminönü Square, Hamdi is written in capital letters. It is one of the best restaurants in the area. Kebab dishes, in particular, are very tasty. The view of Istanbul from the top floor is fascinating.
If you are close to the Spice Bazaar, you should definitely try Zümrüt Büfe’s doner. I recommend lavash wrapped doner and open buttermilk. However, the buffet is very busy so be prepared to wait.
If you’re looking for delicacies that you will not find anywhere else, you’ll want to eat kokorec. But where is the best place to eat it? At King Kokorec. After visiting the PTT museum on Great PTT Street, you can continue your journey by eating kokoreç.
Cig Köfteci Ali Usta
Ali Usta is known by almost all of Türkiye. Ali Usta is an energetic, friendly person. He’s a street vendor, and when you buy cig kofte, he serves you such incredibly delicious things that you think you’re in a restaurant. (Çiğ köfte literally means raw meat, but don’t worry, it actually is a vegan dish and there is no meat in it.)
Day 3 – Beyoglu (Taksim & Karakoy Culture & Food Themed)
It’s time to leave historical peninsula. Prepare to go to Taksim. Today will be very different.
- Taksim Republic Monument
- Hagia Triada
- Çiçek Pasaji
- Yapı Kredi Museum
- St. Anthony of Padua
- Salt Beyoğlu
- Museum of Illusions, Istanbul
- Galata Tower
- İnci Pastanesi
- Hatay Medeniyetler Sofrasi
- Nevizade Street
- Karaköy Restaurant
The shortest route to Taksim is the T1 tram. Take the tram from Sultanahmet to Kabataş and get off after 4 stops. After this journey, which takes a total of 14 minutes, you pass through the tunnel and go to Taksim Square with the funicular. You can walk down the square to Karaköy again.
Another alternative, not using the tunnel, is to start at Galata Tower and walk to Taksim Square. This way you’ll see all the historical sites and other sites along the 1.4 km street. Either way, walk up the middle of the street for dinner.
Taksim Republic Monument
This monument is located at the beginning of Istiklal Street in Taksim Square. One side of the monument describes the War of Independence. The other side tells the modern Turkish Republic.
Hagia Triada is the Greek Orthodox Church. This church is in daily use. Services are held every Sunday.
Founded in 1876, the arcade’s interior architecture is fascinating. You can come here any time during the day and relax with some snacks. At night, in Flower Passage, the taverns are still in full swing and the party goes on. The passage is the beating heart of the city that never sleeps.
Yapı Kredi Museum
The museum is located next to Galatasaray High School. Inside you can see numismatic and ethnographic works, objects that are the heritage of Ottoman and Turkish culture, and you can visit the special Atatürk section.
St. Anthony of Padua
St. Anthony of Padua is the largest Catholic church in Istanbul. The magnificent architectural structure and the mystical atmosphere inside will fascinate you.
Salt Beyoğlu is a multi-disciplinary cultural institution. It is a place not only to watch the exhibitions, but also to talk about the exhibitions, and to participate in workshops and research.
Museum of Illusions, Istanbul
The museum offers visual illusions and promises a lot of fun. Click here for ticket prices and current schedules.
I know how hard it is to stay in the line and wait for the ticket. I’m adding this widget for you to plan your visit and skip the line!
You can go up to the top floor of this magnificent building which has survived from the 5th century. There is a restaurant above and a 360-degree balcony where you can see the whole city. The 67-metre tower is one of the most famous symbols of Istanbul.
Get the best out of your itinerary! Get your Museum Pass now to visit top museums in Istanbul at a cheaper price and skip the lines:
You cannot leave this city without tasting the magnificent profiterole of İnci Pastanesi. The patisserie was founded in 1944 and has stuck to the same delicious recipe since then.
Hatay Medeniyetler Sofrasi
We have a very good suggestion for you. Visit Hatay Medeniyetler Sofrasi to taste the dishes made with special products brought from Hatay. Located on Istiklal Avenue, opposite the French Consulate General.
Just behind Çiçek Pasajı, Nevizade is full of taverns that will turn dinner into a great evening out. Later in the night, you can have fun, and dance as much as you like.
The restaurant is a 10-minute walk from the Galata Tower. You can try Hunkar Begendi (the venue is perhaps best known for its hunkar begendi. Order the fava (bean purée) as an appetiser. For your main meal ask for grilled fish or octopus. Complete the night with pleasant conversation and a beautiful view accompanied by light Turkish music.
What else you can try in Taksim Square later in the night? Of course, Islak burgers, also known as wet burgers, of Kızılkayalar. Don’t forget to drink buttermilk while eating this delicious burger. Now you can go back to your hotel and sleep like a baby.
Day 4 – Istanbul Bosphorus Tour
We are almost halfway through our 7 days Istanbul itinerary. Are you ready to take a fascinating journey on the waters of Istanbul separating the two continents? Istanbul Bosphorus Tour starts here! You can also tour the Bosphorus with private boats or luxury yachts, but we think that’s more expensive and not as much fun.
A boat tour experience is a must for Istanbul! Get your ticket now to discover the whole breathtaking Bosphorus views of this magnificent city:
Long Bosphorus Tour
Every day at 10.35 you can travel to another part of Istanbul with the City Lines ferry departing from Eminönü Pier. You’ll travel by ferry over the waters of the Bosphorus and see the most spectacular architectural mansions of the Bosphorus. It truly is a visual feast.
At 12.30 you will arrive at the other end of the Bosphorus, the Anatolian Poplar. There you’ll have a three-hour break in a small, charming and quiet town in the Anatolian Poplar. Fresh fish is cooked in this town.
After the break, you will take the return journey on the same ferry and arrive back in Eminönü at 16.30
Short Bosphorus Tour
The ferry departs from Eminönü Pier at 14.35 and goes by Uskudar, Ortakoy and Cubuklu coast, returning from Istinye. The duration of this tour is 2 hours. You return to Eminönü Pier at 16.35.
If you have purchased a round trip long tour ticket, you can get off at any pier where the ferry stops and then return to Eminönü by taking the same ferry back.
For the best views of the Bosphorus, choose the ship’s back deck or the top-floor terrace. But remember, in the winter the deck and terrace get cold.
After your trip to Eminönü why not go to Süleymaniye for the rest of the day.
Süleymaniye Mosque, built by the famous architect Mimar Sinan by order of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman, is one of the best examples of Ottoman architecture. Mimar Sinan worked diligently on acoustics in the mosque.
Around the main dome, there are 65 large cubes. These cubes were used to increase acoustics. Thus, a conversation on one side of the mosque can easily be heard on the other side.
During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the soot obtained from the candles burned in the mosque was collected in a special room and turned into ink.
Mimar Sinan put ostrich eggs in the middle of the chandeliers in order to avoid the spider web of oil lamps in the chandeliers of the mosque. Of the 300 eggs laid 400 years ago, 30 still hang in the middle of the chandeliers in the mosque. They have now turned brown.
Day 5 – Kadikoy & Uskudar (Asian Side)
It’s time to go to Asia! Today we visit Kadıköy. The most beautiful way to journey to Kadikoy is by ferry. From Eminönü, you can get to the Asian continent by boat or city ferry.
- Haydarpaşa Train Station
- Süreyya Opera House
- Bull Statue
- Baghdad Street
- Kadıköy Bazaar
- Moda Park
- Fenerbahce Park, Romantika
- Çiya Sofrası
- Kadife Street
- Dorock XL
- KaRga (Crow)
- ZoR (Difficult)
Haydarpaşa Train Station
Visits to the site are restricted because of the restoration works that took years after the fire. Sometimes we have the chance to see the interior through festivals. But there is a restaurant inside and you can view the magnificent architectural interior while you dine.
Süreyya Opera House
Süreyya Opera House is a place where you can listen to wonderful operas from time to time. Click the link for the program.
The bull statue at the entrance of Bahariye Street is made of bronze. This statue is now about 150 years old.
The story of the statue is very interesting. In the 19th century, there was a region that could not be shared between France and Germany. It’s called Alsa-Loren. When the region was captured by the French in 1860, this bull statue was built as an indication of power. However, the Germans took over the same area 10 years later. The bull statue was taken by the Germans.
In 1917, the German emperor presented this bull statue to his friend Enver Pasha. It was placed in the garden of Enver Pasha’s palace. Pasha settled abroad and the statue was forgotten.
After standing there quietly for 50 years, it was spotted and moved to the garden of the Hilton Hotel. After going to many different places it found a home in Kadıköy Square where it has remained for the last twenty years.
You should go to Salacak to see Maiden’s Tower. For this, go to Üsküdar. You can use minibuses departing from Kadıköy to Üsküdar. Istanbulkart is not valid for minibuses so you must pay. You can be in Üsküdar in 20 minutes by minibus.
If you want to use İstanbulKart, you can go to Ayrılık Fountain by taking the M4 line from Kadıköy Metro Station, transferring to Marmaray and getting off at Üsküdar stop. Then walk from Üsküdar along the coast to Salacak.
There are many cafes on the shores of Salacak. Everybody wants to watch the sunset from Üsküdar. Because love, the most beautiful expression of romance, is in our opinion, to watch the Maiden Tower from the coast of Salacak.
Baghdad Street is full of luxury shops. Here you can see the latest designs of many world-famous brands.
There is a cobblestone road opposite the Bull Statue in the square. This road is Bahariye Street. On Bahariye Street, there are all sorts of shops – big and small – that stock all manner of goods. You can walk around for pleasure or to shop. Young people of Istanbul meet in Kadikoy.
You can walk from Kadıköy to Moda. The streets are pleasant, the cats are very peaceful and the people are friendly. After arriving at Moda Park, relax in Moda Tea Garden. There is silence and tranquility in Moda, one of the best neighbourhoods in Istanbul.
Fenerbahce Park, Romantika
When you enter Fenerbahce Park you’ll see a lot of people playing sports. A small restaurant stands in the middle of the park. They say the breakfast there is very nice.
There is a restaurant in Kadıköy that makes authentic Anatolian flavours with completely original plants and ingredients: Çiya. Here, there are dishes and drinks that even those living in Istanbul have never heard of. All of the ingredients are brought specially from their region.
Tell the waiters what sort of food you want to eat and they will recommend something to suit your tastes. Do you like sweet-salty flavors or more spicy? Do you prefer minced meat or a piece of meat? Say what you want, the waiters and the chef will offer you alternatives.
You can eat fish or pizza in Kadıköy’s bar street Kadife. You have what you want on this street. In the evening, people go to the bar street and then to the clubs to experience the endless energy of Kadıköy.
It is one of the concert venues of Kadıköy. You can listen to pleasant music. You can also find delicious dishes of international cuisine.
One of the most popular venues in Kadıköy. After a certain hour, everyone meets and talks. The environment is intimate.
If you are looking for DJ and Concert performance, come to Karga. There’s a different DJ every day of the week. You will have a fun night in the 5-storey venue.
You’ve watched a nice concert or had a pleasant conversation. But now you want to dance and continue the night. ZoR is the place for you. Located in an apartment, the interior decoration is completely vintage. The challenge is to dance. Go inside and let the movement begin.
Day 6 – Balat
Today, our route leads to a small, cosy and pleasant neighbourhood: Balat. When you walk around Balat and Fener, you feel see authentic houses, antique shops, auctions, people and cats living in peace.
How to get there
You can go to Balat by bus (99A, 99, 99Y, 48E) from Eminönü. You can also use a taxi as it’s not too far. The minibuses passing by the Golden Horn coast will also take you to Eminönü.
Made entirely of iron, this church is the only example in the world. The weight of the iron used in the construction of the church is 500 tons.
World famous mosaics and frescoes are found in this mosque. You will be fascinated in this mosque which is once a church where you can see Eastern Roman art.
Chora Museum became a mosque again after 75 years in 2020 with the Presidential decree, just like Hagia Sophia. The museum, whose restoration work continues, will be opened to worship as a mosque after the works are completed.
Visitors wish to see the Chora Mosque can enter without an entrance fee from now on. Please keep in mind that there are five prayer times for a day; you might want to visit the Chora Mosque besides these times.
Don’t forget that know it’s a mosque again women and men have to wear according to Islamic rules. For men and women, legs and arms need to be covered, no shorts or skirts above the ankle. Also, your clothes should not be tight fitting. And women have to cover their heads.
Historic Balat Houses
Balat Houses located on Çoban Fountain Street have been restored within the scope of UNESCO Cultural Heritage Preservation. Taking pictures in front of the colourful Balat houses is a tradition!
Fener Greek Patriarchate and Hagia Yorgi: These two charming buildings on the shores of the Golden Horn share the same courtyard. The interior architecture is charming.
Fener Mahallesi Square
You can see cafes and boutique restaurants in Fener between Yildirim Street and Vodina Street, authentically decorated and serving hearty and delicious food.
One of the most beautiful places in Balat is Agora Meyhanesi. You can crown your day with classical Turkish art music, and nice appetisers.
Today is the last day of our one week itinerary in Istanbul. You can make a final tour according to the time remaining until your plane leaves.
In the meantime go and buy souvenirs for yourself and gifts for family and friends. You can buy carpets or rugs at the carpet shops in Sultanahmet. Don’t forget to negotiate!
During the 7-day holiday itinerary in Istanbul, you have seen many places, but there are still so many places to visit in this wonderful city.
Next time you arrive, get ready to visit Princess Islands, Beykoz, Kanlica, Fatih Mosque, Eyup, Bebek, Besiktas, and Ortakoy.