If you only have one day in Istanbul and want to see it all then you could easily find yourself disappointed. Because Istanbul consists of seven hills and each has its own story.
But for those of you who are limited to just one day in the city, we can help make sure you don’t miss any of the top attractions. The rest can wait until the next time you visit.
Istanbul One Day Itinerary
Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque)
Sultanahmet and the surrounding area is historically significant part of Istanbul. You could spend a whole day visiting the museums, cisterns, and historical sites of Sultanahmet, also known as Old Istanbul.
Sultanahmet Square is also known as Hippodrome or Horse Square. This region is one of the most interesting regions for tourists. When you look at the historical buildings, pyramids and columns surrounding the square, you feel like you are traveling through time. After seeing the sights of Sultanahmet be sure to have a nice lunch in one of its famous meatball shops.
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The cistern, built during the Eastern Roman Empire, is 140m long and 70m wide. You’ll be captivated when you enter the cistern and as you walk through it, you’ll see the statue of the head of Medusa, so don’t be surprised.
Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are historical buildings facing each other. Hagia Sophia was built as a church in 325 by the Byzantine emperor and restored in 537. After 1453 it was turned into a mosque and in 1935 was converted into a museum by Atatürk. The Hagia Sophia Museum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Istanbul today.
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 wish to see the Hagia Sophia 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 Hagia Sophia 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.
Related post: Hagia Sophia: Cathedral or Mosque?
Welcome to the heart of shopping. Taksim, Istiklal Street and the surrounding area are ideal for both drinking and shopping. Istiklal Street is active at all hours of day and night. There are also historical buildings that you can visit here: Saint Anthony of Padua Church (if you have a chance, you can listen to a concert here), Aya Triada Greek Orthodox Church and Virgin Mary Draperis church are just some of the historical monuments you should visit. And while you’re here, you can walk to Tunel and have a cold beer.
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From Tunel, go to Galata where a different world awaits you. Galata Tower is one of the must-see places in Istanbul. From here you can look out over the fascinating views of Istanbul. And there are many places at the foot of the Galata Tower where you can stop for a drink or something to eat. If you’re lucky, you might see people performing the tango in Kuledibi, and if you have time you could see a show at the theatre. From the Galata Tower you can walk to the Galata Bridge. Here you’ll find people selling fish-bread. The fish, cooked in the boats under the Galata Bridge are immediately put into bread and sold. It’s one of the many culinary delights of Istanbul and you won’t be able to get enough of it.
You can walk to Galata Bridge and reach Eminönü; the region most famous for the Grand Bazaar. You can buy all kinds of spices in Eminönü and Grand Bazaar, and you can taste authentic Turkish delicacies. This is a very popular tourist area and boasts 65 streets in a 45,000 square metre enclosed area. In all there are 3600 shops and 14 inns in the Grand Bazaar. You’ll find authentic products from artisan craftsmen of the East, selected antiques, designer objects made according to new technology, and the most precious metals exhibited and sold throughout history; gold and silver. And of course you can buy diamonds too.
It’s difficult to visit Istanbul in a day, but with this guide you’ll have a chance to see a selection of the most beautiful places. But it’s much better to have a local expert plan your trip. If you plan it yourself, you run the risk of wasting the most valuable commodity; your time.
You’ll have a far more productive day with a trip plan from HeyTripster’s local trip designers. Moreover, you can find well-organized trip plans according to your tastes and wishes with HeyTripster; the dream of Istanbul will become your reality, your way. If you only have one day, don’t try to fit everything in and end up missing most of it; take a look at HeyTripster plans and make sure you have adequate time to spend at the places you most want to visit.
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!
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