5 Things to Do on a Layover in Istanbul

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 historical peninsula. 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?

Istanbul Airport

You can go to Sultanahmet with Havaist vehicles. The average duration is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

More Information

Location: View on Google Maps
Phone Number: 444 1 442
Website: istairport.com

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.

More Information

Location: View on Google Maps
Phone Number: (0216) 588 88 88
Website: sabihagokcen.aero
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

You can use your credit card or Istanbulkart in the vehicles you get from the airports and only Istanbulkart in others. Remember 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.

More Information

Open Hours: 24/7
Location: View on Google Maps
Phone Number: (0212) 458 44 68
Website: sultanahmetcamii.org
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

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.

More Information

Open Hours: 08:00 – 19:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Phone Number: (0212) 519 12 48
Website: kapalicarsi.com.tr
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

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 (flatbread with minced meat) here.

More Information

Open Hours: 08:00 – 19:00, Saturdays 08:00 – 19:30, Sundays 09:30 – 19:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Phone Number: (0212) 513 65 97
Website: misircarsisi.org.tr
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

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4. Where else?

If you have come to Istanbul before and want to see places other 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, and 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. 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 stroll through the streets of all the beautiful colourful 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!

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