Istanbul essentials

One day challenge: 4 ways to explore the best of Istanbul

Contemplating the measurement of metropolitan Istanbul, how much of the metropolis are you able to truly see in one day? We tested the logistics around must-see sites to create several themed itineraries that may aid you navigate via the city. Let’s expertise the best of Istanbul in 24 hours!

TOUR 1: Flavors of Istanbul

No human has the capacity to take pleasure in all the culinary delights that Istanbul has to supply in only one day. Nevertheless, with a number of hacks you can also make the most of your day in the city, shopping via the plethora of tastes and smells, and accumulating culinary experiences.

Practical tip: to comply with our route, begin in Beyoğlu, move by Galata to the Karaköy fish market, after which cross Galata Bridge. Then take the ferry to Kadıköy and explore the market. There are opportunities to taste new issues at each step of the means!

Don’t depart the metropolis with out tasting these must eats!

As an alternative of having a full Turkish breakfast, stick to simit and a glass of tea. This iconic combo tastes best onboard an area ferry. If such a trip isn’t in your agenda, decide up simit from road distributors, avoiding the ones bought in chain shops. Read more about simit and tea in Turkey.

In Turkish culture, espresso is what follows breakfast (the Turkish phrase for breakfast, kahvaltı, means “before coffee”). Throughout the metropolis a lot of locations serve exquisite lattes and cortados, however overlook them for a second and make room for Turkish coffee. No one makes it extra authentically than Mustafa Amca (Uncle Mustafa) at Hazzopulo Pasajı in Beyoğlu. Just let him understand how candy he should make it. Study Istanbul’s coffee culture and where to discover the best cafes in the metropolis.

Maraş ice cream, as you may need seen on YouTube, owes its gummy texture to mastic. If the well-known antics of the vendor are outdoors make you uncomfortable, order a portion at Mado and don’t hesitate to use a knife and fork when you’re at it.

Freshly squeezed fruit juice is straightforward to find on the streets of Istanbul all yr round. Watch out for the road carts round Galata and Tophane, or seize a cup from one of the joints by Galata Tower. See Beyoğlu food tour for more choices around this space.

Köşkeroğlu in Karaköy makes its fıstıklı baklava utilizing pistachios from Gaziantep—simply choose whatever catches your eye, and sure, ordering only one slice is completely acceptable. See Karaköy food tour to discover out extra.

As an alternative of buying a balık-ekmek sandwich from one of the locations underneath Galata Bridge, go for a more genuine deal with made of recent fish from one of the buffets in the heart of the fish market in Karaköy. During the fishing season, which in Istanbul is between September 1 and Might 15, merely ask what’s recent. You’ll be able to’t go incorrect.

Stuffed mussels (midye dolma) prime Istanbul’s road meals listing. They are bought all over town, and the most popular location is close to Galata Bridge. The worth is per portion, so take pleasure in as many as you need, and whenever you’re achieved, merely say “stop.”

When you cross to the Asian aspect, Kadıköy market unfolds in front of you like a culinary fairytale. Must tries embrace pickle juice (turşu suyu) from Özcan Turşu; seasonal fruit, cheese, and olive tasting at Gözde Şarküteri; and a feast at Çiya restaurant (as seen on Netflix’s Chef’s Desk) for dinner. Read Kadıköy food tour to study extra about eating on the Asian aspect.

TOUR 2: Timeless classics

Taking this route is like happening a journey by way of centuries, the place totally different eras, cultures, and religions left their marks on the city. The trail also occurs to cross by way of most of the famous seven Istanbul hills. Don’t worry—they are historic point markers and don’t really require a lot climbing.

Sensible tip: the quickest method to reach the start line of this tour is by taking the metro to Haliç station on the Golden Horn bridge, and interchange to a bus heading in the direction of Balat (approx seven minutes). Estimated strolling occasions are given under in brackets. They don’t embrace visits at the stops, which you’ll be able to take pleasure in at your personal pace.

Comply with this route and you may go to all the must-sees on the historic peninsula in a single day!

Start at 9am – Perispri Cafe in Fener is one of those places where time stands still. Serving traditional Turkish breakfast in a comfortable atmosphere, it emanates heat emotions identical to your favorite grandma’s place.

2 min – The Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate is situated in the coronary heart of the space formerly populated by non-Muslim minorities. The place maintains its symbolic significance within the Japanese Church, and serves as the residence of the patriarch, subsequently all visits have to be organized prematurely or led by a licensed tour information.

5 min – The newly renovated Bulgarian St Stephen Church is a quirky architectural gem made of prefabricated cast iron. Find out different magnificent church buildings in Istanbul.

Bulgarian St Stephen Church

20 mins – Think about Chora Museum a prelude to your Hagia Sophia visit later immediately, since comparisons between the two best examples of Byzantine structure are inevitable.

20 mins –Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque, situated on prime of Istanbul’s fifth hill, remains outdoors of the typical touristic route, and supplies a shocking view across the Golden Horn. On Wednesdays, nearby streets flip into a well-liked market selling every part from recent produce to textiles.

Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque

20 minutes – One of the few remaining buildings from the Roman period, Valens Aqueduct, which connects the third and fourth historic hills of Istanbul, used to provide water to the Beyazıt Cistern.

5 mins –Vefa Bozacısı makes up for the lack of good coffee in the space, offering a fast break with a glass of boza in hand. This conventional winter drink comprised of fermented millet was provided to the Ottoman palace by the exact same place you’re sitting at. Read the story of boza to discover out more.

Vefa Bozacısı

10 min –Süleymaniye Mosque is one of the most necessary spiritual landmarks in the city, featuring impressive stained glass windows inside, as well as a shocking view of Galata Tower from its gardens.

Süleymaniye Mosque

10 min –Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi store has an extended queue at any given time of the day. Although this centuries-old family company was a nationwide model a very long time ago, getting your freshly roasted coffee from its unique location is a must-do whereas there.

Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi

3 mins – Pandeli Restaurant at the Egyptian Bazaar is your half-way relaxation level on this tour. Assume of it as time journey—the similar interiors supply dishes virtually equivalent to people who the founder of Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, used to take pleasure in.


15 mins – If your schedule is restricted to one day, a go to to the Istanbul Archaeology Museums should in all probability be saved for an additional time. Three separate collections take a number of hours to flick through, so in case you determine to go it, make sure that to manage your time correctly. Nevertheless, the surrounding streets are also very picturesque and give a glimpse of the collections without having to pay the entrance charge.

Archaeology Museums

5 min – Despite the fact that the history of the underground Basilica Cistern does not embrace mysteries and dramatic turns of occasions, its distinctive environment makes a visit an absolute must.

2 min – Hagia Sophia Museum has to be an element of any given tour of Istanbul—should you’ve time to see only one place in Istanbul, there’s little question it ought to be this one. The small print of the constructing tell fascinating stories—to study all of them, think about hiring a licensed guide.

Hagia Sophia

3 min –Topkapı Palace Museum is one other a number of hours long cease. If you’d like to absolutely explore the palace, a separate half-day go to outdoors of this itinerary is beneficial. For a basic grasp of this splendid place, be certain that to take a peek at the treasury, Baghdad Pavilion in the gardens, and the magnificent views of the metropolis.

Topkapı Palace

6 min – For centuries the largest mosque in Istanbul, Sultanahmet Mosque has the longest opening hours of all historic peninsula landmarks, so it’s sensible to reserve it for final. Be sure to’re appropriately dressed in order to enter.

5 min – For a soothing break at the finish of this busy day head to the Four Seasons Lodge Istanbul At Sultanahmet. The property’s secluded gardens will maintain you away from the crowds, while genuine interiors ensure you already know you’re in the coronary heart of a historic space. Good for an afternoon tea. Discover out extra locations to eat in the Previous Metropolis.

Four Seasons Lodge Istanbul at Sultanahmet

TOUR three: Instagram-worthy

In the event you’ve been following @theguideistanbul, you in all probability already know that there isn’t any nook of Istanbul that we haven’t pictures of. With years of expertise, hundreds of followers, and likes and feedback in the pocket, we came up with an inventory of essential Istanbul photographs that not solely assure engagement but in addition assist your lovely travel reminiscences final.

Sensible tip: as the days get longer in the summer time, you’ll have more time to explore this itinerary at your personal tempo.

Your mates might be very jealous that you simply get the probability to witness these superb scenes in Istanbul!

Istanbul is a metropolis that wakes up comparatively late, and an early morning photograph spree guarantees frames without too many people. The best locations to watch the sunrise and catch the early morning mild are along the European coast of the Bosphorus. The best time to take that iconic shot of a mosque and the bridge that connects continents is at daybreak in Ortaköy sq..

Once the desk is about and crammed with little dishes, the Turkish breakfast shot that captures this feast becomes a present stopper. There are lots of of locations in Istanbul providing a standard Turkish breakfast (see web page 30), however some are extra photogenic than others. Our favorites embrace Cihangir Van Kahvaltı Evi, Mangerie, Grandma (at any of their places), Çeşme Bazlama Kahvaltı, and Naan. Take a look at the full listing of the best places for breakfast in Istanbul.

There are various ways to take the iconic Galata Tower shot. A wide angle becomes a bit of tough when it comes to any frames in the space, however on a number of events we found a great angle from Büyük Hendek Sokak, and people photographs have a tendency to catch the eye every time.

Walk over Galata Bridge to let time stop for a second. The anglers you’ll see have been coming for decades, and some of the older ones may even keep in mind previous versions of this necessary piece of Istanbul structure.

Galata Bridge and Galata Tower

Ferry ports on both ends of Galata Bridge supply Bosphorus tours along the European shore all the means to Rumeli Hisarı, offering the best angles for photographs of the waterfront picket mansions, and the bridges that span continents.

Waterfront mansions

When the Bosphorus tour returns to its port of origin, you’ll find yourself just some steps away from the colorful photograph alternatives awaiting at the Egyptian Bazaar. Spice outlets, Turkish espresso roasteries, and the overwhelming selection of goods on sale will deliver the colourful and genuine frames you have been hoping for.

The Egyptian Bazaar

Night is right on your basic meyhane shot. It’s a unique sort of opulence on the table, which may get as impressive as the Turkish breakfast unfold. Even in case you’re not a rakı drinker, seeing others raising a toast is a second you’ll need to catch. In your shot, choose one of the basic places in the Asmalımescit area, or one which comes with an awesome sundown view, resembling Firuze.

Photographing sunsets in Istanbul could be difficult, but in addition very rewarding. Depending on what sort of shot you’re in search of, our suggestions embrace two options: board a city ferry (preferably the giant one departing from Beşiktaş) to make the most of the historic peninsula’s spectacular skyline, or situate yourself on one of Istanbul’s rooftop terraces (Mikla or Monkey) to catch the mesmerising panorama in all of its glory. Either method, timing here is crucial!

Metropolis view from the prime

TOUR 4: Like an area

It doesn’t matter what you’ve been seeing on social media, Istanbul locals hardly spend their days wandering round historic sites or having fun with each break over a slice of baklava. A visit to the residential half of the Asian aspect will provide you with a better concept of what it’s like to be an Istanbul local. Listed here are a number of experiences that would improve the feeling of truly dwelling in the city.

If you need to expertise the real life of Istanbulites…

It all appears very glamorous on social media, however you haven’t seen the real face of the metropolis in the event you haven’t taken the metrobüs journey throughout rush hour. If after reaching your ultimate destination on the other aspect of the Bosphorus you’re still in love with the metropolis, congratulations—you officially passed the check!

One of the most beloved neighborhoods in Istanbul, Moda, is a hub for some of the metropolis’s best breakfast places. Should you stay till the night, experience the energetic nightlife at the bars and reside music venues.

Breakfast in Moda

When you’ve fuelled up, take a stroll around the quiet streets of Moda, and alongside the Marmara coast, before getting into the Kadıköy market madness. A historic, and barely complicated location, the space is understood for fascinating gastronomic discoveries. As soon as there, style the olives, pickles, and seasonal fruit. If you need to take some goodies residence, Gözde Şarküteri has a superb choice, and can vacuum pack them for you.

Kadıköy market

Head in the direction of the ferry port to get on one of the yellow dolmuş shared taxis. The one you’re on the lookout for goes to Bostancı, but you’ll get off a bit earlier, in Suadiye, to take a walk alongside the coast in the direction of Caddebostan.


Hidden between residential buildings in the neighborhood is Neni, an incredible place for lunch and a quick unwind, and doubtless one of the best eateries in all of the Bağdat Caddesi area.

Once you’re prepared, stroll in the direction of the essential avenue, which is house to all of the excessive road trend manufacturers you possibly can imagine. To buy luxury gadgets, head proper in the direction of Suadiye, where you’ll find Beymen and Vakko department shops, and the spectacular multi-story outlets by Louis Vuitton or COS.

Once you’ve found every little thing you have been in search of, hop again on the yellow dolmuş and let it take you back to the ferry port, because nothing sums up the day better than a sea commute round sunset.

Sunset in Kadıköy

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