Istanbul 1 Day Itinerary: The Only Guide You Need

From Byzantium to Constantinople to Istanbul, this city was home to 3 great empires, the Roman, Byzantine, and the Ottoman. With so much to see, our guide takes you through Istanbul 1 day itinerary. Believe me, this is the only guide you need to explore the city. Our Istanbul 1 day itinerary takes you to the must-visits which are:

  • Hagia Sophia
  • Topkapi Palace
  • The Blue Mosque
  • Grand Bazaar
  • Galata Tower
  • Cruise on the Bosphorus

We also give you our recommended places to stay in Istanbul complete with our choices of hotels to stay in.

Let’s dive in!

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Where is Istanbul?

From Byzantium, and Constantinople to Istanbul, this is the largest city in Turkey and serves as the nation’s cultural, historical, and economic hub. While it had its beginning as New Rome, the city grew to become one of the most important cities on the Silk Road.

Istanbul’s climate is a borderline Mediterranean climate with a combination of humid subtropical and oceanic climates. This means that the weather is moderately dry during the summer months and cool winters with frequent rain.

Due to climate change, the weather in Istanbul has changed drastically from warm summers to hot summers and from cool temperatures to warmer temperatures. 

Istanbul has two areas, the European and the Asian side. While most historical landmarks are on the European side, the Asian side functions as the commercial and economic center of Istanbul.

Today, the Istanbul Airport is the second busiest airport in Europe with 1,247 daily flights with tourist numbers increasing by the day. 

History

A recent discovery has revealed that there was a Neolithic settlement that existed on the Anatolian side. The earliest settlement dates back to 6700 BC. The earliest known name of Istanbul was Lygos which recorded by Pliny the Elder.

According to a Greek legend, there was once a legendary King Byzas who led the Megarian colonist and founded the city. The city became known as Byzantium. Rome then conquered Istanbul and the city was rebuilt. The city soon caught the attention of Constantine the Great. He conquered the city and named it Constantinopolis.

Constantinopolis became the new Roman capital in 330 AD. Ibn Battuta in his travel journals noted that the once-thriving city had become a ghost town. By the early 13th century, the Ottoman Empire conquered the city after a 53-day siege. Constantinople became the Ottoman’s fourth and final capital before the empire went into decline.

The creation of modern Istanbul began in the 1870s with the building of bridges, the creation of proper water and drainage systems, and the availability of electricity, trams, and telephones.  

Republic of Turkey

After the First World War, Istanbul was occupied by the Allied Forces until 1923. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey moved the capital from Istanbul to Ankara, which consequently decreased the population of Istanbul.

By 2017, Istanbul has a population of approximately 15 million and continues to rise as the city has now synonymous with Istanbul province. In 2018, the Istanbul Airport opened and as of 2021, brought in 26 million international visitors to the city.

With its multicultural ethnic diversity, the city continues to represent modernity while maintaining its traditional base. This is a city as old as time, that has continuously stood the test of time, only to appear stronger than before, this is Istanbul.  

Visa Requirements

The citizens of Germany, Belgium, France, Georgio, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, and Italy are just some of the nations that are allowed entry into Turkey using their national identification cards. 

For citizens of other nations, your passport has to be valid for at least 6 months before traveling to Turkey. For tourist visas, you have the option of single entry or multiple entries. The visa fee structure varies based on the type and length of the visa required. As of 2013, Turkey has implemented the e-Visa whereby you can obtain your visa in 3 easy steps. 

Alternatively, you can use i-Visa services where you can obtain your check and obtain your visa in 3 steps. With 24 hours support, you know that you can always rely on the team to provide you with a stress-free application process. 

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What is there to do in Istanbul in 24 hours?

While 24 hours in Istanbul may not seem enough, there is plenty you can do within that time. From the Spice Bazaar to Istiklal Avenue, these are the places you can visit if you have an Istanbul 1 day itinerary.

Spice Bazaar

Istanbul 1 day itinerary, Spice Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey, Egyptian Bazaar
Photo by Linus Mimietz on Unsplash

The first of our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is the Spice Bazaar or Mısır Çarşısı which translates to the “Egyptian Bazaar” and is one of the largest bazaars in Istanbul. The building was rental revenue for the upkeep of the New Mosque which is next to the bazaar.

Today, the bazaar has about 85 stalls selling spices, nuts, honeycomb, dried fruit and vegetables, and Turkish cheese. You can also find Iranian caviar, and souvenirs. 

After shopping, head to Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi for an authentic cup of Turkish coffee. Today, the company has successfully modernized the process and expanded its global reach while maintaining the true taste of Turkish coffee.

Can you bring back spices from Turkey?

Yes, you can bring back prepacked spices from Turkey. It would be best if the spices remain in the manufacturer’s seal.

Is Spice Bazaar worth visiting?

Yes, Spice Bazaar is worth visiting, even if you aren’t buying any spices. There is no entry fee to visit the bazaar. This bazaar is smaller than the Grand Bazaar, which means it gets crowded fast enough. 

Hagia Sophia

Istanbul 1 day itinerary, Hagia Sophia, Church of the Holy Wisdom, Istanbul, Turkey
Photo by Fatih Yürür on Unsplash

The second of our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is Hagia Sophia and was formerly known as the Church of the Holy Wisdom. Hagia Sophia is a mile from the Spice Bazaar. This is a 25-minute walk or a 6-minute drive from the bazaar.

This architectural marvel was initially built as a church in 537 AD and was considered the largest church in the eastern Roman Empire. Throughout Istanbul’s colorful history, the function of Hagia Sophia has changed several times over the centuries.

Is Hagia Sophia a mosque now?

Yes, Hagia Sophia is now a mosque. It was reclassified as a mosque in 2020 and was open for worship in July 2020. 

How much does it cost to visit Hagia Sophia?

There is no entrance fee to visit Hagia Sophia. However, be mindful of the daily prayer times, cover your head, and remove your shoes before entering the premises.

Is there a dress code for Hagia Sophia?

Yes, there is a dress code for Hagia Sophia. By 2020, headscarves and coverings are now required to enter Hagia Sophia. 

Basilica Cistern

Istanbul 1 day itinerary, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey, Subterranean Palace
Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

The third of our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is Basilica Cistern. This basilica is about 550 meters and is an easy 7-minute walk from Hagia Sophia. Basilica Cistern or Yerebatan Sarnici is one of several hundred cisterns beneath Istanbul. 

Yerebatan Sarnici translates to Subterranean Palace and if ancient texts are to be believed, this cistern once contained gardens, surrounded by a colonnade, and faced the Hagia Sophia. 

While the cistern is capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters of water, sufficient to serve its purpose to meet the water needs of the grand palace. When at the basilica, look out for the two Medusa heads as a column base.

What was the Basilica Cistern used for?

Basilica Cistern was used to meet the water needs of the Grand Palace of Constantinople. The enlarged system also acts as a water filtration system and continues to provide water to Topkapi Palace to this day.

How long does it take to visit Basilica Cistern?

An hour is sufficient to visit Basilica Cistern. The basilica is open throughout the week from 9 am to 6.30 pm during the summer months and from 9 am to 5.30 pm during the winter months. 

How much is the entrance fee to Basilica Cistern?

The entrance fee to Basilica Cistern is ₺30 ($1.80) and the tickets are available at the ticket counters. 

Sultan Ahmed Mosque (The Blue Mosque)

Istanbul 1 day itinerary, the Blue Mosque, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
Photo by Zayn Shah on Unsplash

The fourth of our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque which is referred to as the Blue Mosque. This mosque is about 290 meters or an easy 3-minute walk from Basilica Cistern.

The Blue Mosque got its name from the handpainted blue tiles that adorn the interiors of the mosque. The mosque combines Islamic architecture with Byzantine elements and is considered the last great mosque of the Ottoman Empire.

What is inside the Blue Mosque?

Inside the Blue Mosque is the tomb of Sultan Ahmed I who instructed the mosque to be built. The mosque also contains a madrasah and a hospice.

Do you need tickets for Blue Mosque?

No, you do not need tickets for the Blue Mosque as the entrance is free. You are required to dress appropriately as this is a living mosque. 

Is Blue Mosque worth visiting?

Yes, the Blue Mosque is worth visiting. Go for the enormous dome, the blue tiles, the 6 slim minarets that adorn the exterior, and the peaceful ambiance of the mosque.

Topkapi Palace

Istanbul 1 day itinerary, Topkapi Palace, Cannon Gate Palace, Istanbul, Turkey
Photo by Linus Mimietz on Unsplash

The fifth of our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is Topkapi Palace. This palace museum is about 700 meters or an easy 7-minute walk from the Blue Mosque. Although the palace was originally known as the New Palace, it was given the name Cannon Gate Palace.

The palace was home and administrative center for the Ottoman sultans during the 15th and 16th centuries before being converted to a museum. There are four courtyards, gardens, Imperial harems, and towers within this museum.  

How much does it cost to go to Topkapi Palace?

The cost to go to Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Irene is ₺320 ($19) for foreigners while the fees for Topkapi Palace, Hagia Irene, and the Harem is ₺420 ($24) for foreigners. A single entry ticket for the Harem is ₺150 ($9) while a single entry ticket for Hagia Irene is ₺120 ($7). 

Can I take pictures in Topkapi Palace?

Yes, you can take pictures in Topkapi Palace. As this place receives at least 3 million visitors a year, it would be best to arrive early on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Topkapi Palace is open from 9 am to 6 pm every day, except Tuesdays when it is closed.

Is Topkapi Palace worth visiting?

Yes, Topkapi Palace is worth visiting. Why? Because it is one of the largest and oldest palaces in Istanbul where photography is allowed. It is also one of the best places to see how the Ottoman sultans lived. It is also an architectural marvel that has stood the test of time. 

Grand Bazaar

Istanbul 1 day itinerary, Grand Bazaar, first and oldest shopping mall in the world, Istanbul, Turkey
Photo by Svetlana Gumerova on Unsplash

The sixth of our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is the Grand Bazaar. The bazaar is about 800 meters or an easy 20-minute walk from Topkapi Palace. This bazaar is regarded as the first shopping mall in the world as it houses about 4,000 shops.

Although the bazaar is now a must-visit tourist destination, it was built with the purpose to stimulate economic prosperity after the Ottoman Conquest of Constantinople. There are four gates to the bazaar which reflect the items sold by the vendors along with these gates.

The North Gate is known as the Second-Hand Booksellers’ Gate while the South Gate is known as the Skullcap Sellers’ Gate. The East Gate is the Jewellers’ Gate while the West Gate is Women Clothiers’ Gate which is mostly scarves and shawls. 

What is the Grand Bazaar famous for?

Grand Bazaar is famous for being the first shopping mall in the world as it was the largest and oldest bazaar in Istanbul during the Ottoman Empire.

Can you buy clothes in the Grand Bazaar?

Yes, you can buy clothes in the Grand Bazaar. Just note that they a fake duplicates and the quality may not be good. The other items worth purchasing at the Grand Bazaar are hammam-themed robes, Turkish shawls, and suzani which are large embroidered textiles that you hang beautifully on your walls.

Is the Grand Bazaar worth it?

Yes, the Grand Bazaar is worth it as it gives you an idea of how traders sold their ware. Go for the experience of bargaining at the first shopping mall in the world. Although it is chaotic, busy, and noisy, you would come back with something.

Travel Tip:

Take note of the entrance you entered as this bazaar has a maze-like interior which means you may exit at another part of the city. The salesmen are pushy and may pressure you for a sale. Just say no and walk away. Avoid using your credit card and pay in cash.

Galata Bridge and Galata Tower

Istanbul 1 day itinerary, Galata Tower, people walking on cobbled streets, Istanbul, Galata, Turkey
Photo by Serhat Erdoğan on Unsplash

The seventh of our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is Galata Bridge and Galata Tower. Galata Bridge is about 800 meters or a 15-minute walk from the Grand Bazaar. Galata Tower is another 600 meters or a 15-minute walk from the Galata Bridge.

Galata Bridge is a symbolic link between the “Old City” and the “New City” of Istanbul. The current bridge is the fifth bridge on-site and is relatively new as it was built in 1994. This bridge connects the northern and southern ends of the European side of the Golden Horn.

Galata Tower is a nine-story tower that was built as a watchtower. The first tower that was built on-site during the 6th century was destroyed during the Fourth Crusade. The current tower was built in 1348 and was the highest building at that time.

Can you walk on Galata Bridge?

Yes, you can walk on Galata Bridge. It is a must-do activity as you explore anglers casting their lines. The lower level has a string of restaurants, and at the docks are several floating restaurants. Make sure to try Balik Ekmek, a freshly grilled fish sandwich at the restaurants.

Does Galata Bridge connect Asia and Europe?

No, Galata Bridge does not connect Asia and Europe. It connects the Old City and the New City of Istanbul. 

What is special about Galata Tower?

Galata Tower is special because it was once the highest point in Istanbul and was extensively used as a watchtower, lighthouse, and for military defense.

How much does it cost to go up Galata Tower?

With the Istanbul Museum Pass, you can skip the line and spend more time at the tower. Otherwise, the cost to go up to Galata Tower is ₺130 ($8) with long queues in the morning. The tower is open from 8.30 am to 11 pm every day.   

Cruise on the Bosphorus

Istanbul 1 day itinerary, cruise on the Bosphorus, pigeons flying in the sky, cruise on the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul, Turkey
Photo by Süheyl Burak on Unsplash

The eighth of our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is a cruise on the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus Strait is a narrow and internationally significant waterway that connects the continental boundaries of Asia and Europe in Turkey.

Private ferries operate from the Kabataş pier. Take note that the prices for the cruise varies based on the type and length of the journey, with or without refreshments, and whether it is inclusive of any performances on board. 

Istiklal Avenue

Istanbul 1 day itinerary, Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul, Turkey
Photo by ThePowerCouple on Unsplash

The ninth and last of our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is Istiklal Avenue or the Grand Avenue of Pera is an 800-meter pedestrian street that begins at Galata and ends at Taksim Square. 

You can hitch a ride on the iconic red trams or the Tünel which is the second oldest underground urban rail network after the London Underground. The trams are designed as F2 and run from Tünel to Taksim Square, every 15 minutes.

Among the must-visits on this street are Madame Tussauds Istanbul, Pera Museum, the Mekan Galata Mevlevi Whirling Dervish House and Museum, and the Galatasaray Hammam for an authentic Turkish hammam experience.

What are the best places to stay in Istanbul?

While there are many best places to stay in Istanbul, we have narrowed down our choices into 3 main areas that are suitable for sightseeing, families, and nightlife. 

Sultan Ahmet For Sightseeing

The first area to stay in our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is Sultan Ahmet. This district was named after Sultan Ahmet I and is in the district of Fatih. Sultanahmet is considered the Old City of Istanbul and is known for its historical landmarks that dot the district which makes it perfect for sightseeing.

Other than the must-visits of Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, make sure to visit Sultanahmet Square. This square was once the Hippodrome of Constantinople where horse racing, sporting, and social activities of the Byzantine Empire took place.

The three best restaurants worth trying in Sultanahmet are Balikci Sabahattin, Matbah, and Deraliye Terrace. As for the best hotels to stay in Sultanahmet, we have curated them for you.

Four Seasons Hotel

The Four Seasons Hotel is a 65-room luxury hotel set in neo-classical style. The hotel amenities include a courtyard, shoeshine service, a 24-hour in-room dining, and private cruise and helicopter service with additional charges attached.

Each room comes with marble bathrooms, free WiFi, a hair dryer, an espresso machine, an in-room safe, and a minibar. The Marmara Suite comes with views of the Sea of Marmara, three private terraces, and free WiFi.

Some positive reviews mention the beautifully appointed rooms, amazing breakfast, and the excellent location that is within walking distance to the historical sights of Istanbul. Guests also loved the helpful and welcoming staff and the clean and cozy rooms. 

Obelisk Hotel and Suites

The Obelisk Hotel and Suites is a 4-room hotel that is within walking distance to Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, the Basilica Cistern, and the Blue Mosque. The other amenities include a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage area, and express check-in and check-out.

Some positive reviews mention a clean hotel, beautiful garden, and friendly staff. Guests also loved the comfortable beds and the ideal location of the hotel which is within walking distance of the major sites of the Old City.

Armada Istanbul Old City Hotel

The Armada Istanbul Old City Hotel is a 108-room hotel that is a waterfront hotel that is a 10-minute walk to Topkapi Palace. The hotel’s amenities include multi-lingual staff, wheelchair accessibility, 24-hour room service, and a front desk.

Some positive reviews mention the spacious rooms, excellent location, and friendly staff. Guests also loved the clean and tidy rooms, the fantastic Turkish breakfast, and the wonderful view from the terrace.

Come early for breakfast so you can get that spot with a view of either the Blue Mosque or the coastline of Istanbul. 

Taksim Square for Nightlife, Walking & Families

The second-best area to stay in our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is Taksim Square. Taksim Square is a major tourist district situated on the European side of Istanbul and is a short walking distance from Kabataş. This area is considered the heart of Istanbul as the Central Station of the Istanbul Metro network begins here.

Among the top restaurants in Taksim Square are 360 Rooftop Bar, Eleos Restaurant, and Hayvore. To make your planning easier, we have curated our top 3 choices of our best places to stay in.

Grand Hyatt

The Grand Hyatt Istanbul is a 360-room luxury hotel near Taksim Square. All rooms come with modern amenities such as individually controlled air-conditioning, hair dryer, kettle, minibar, and a safety deposit box.

However, what we loved about this hotel is that it is pet-friendly. While there is a fee for having pets in the rooms, this hotel happily accepts pets with a maximum weight of 25 kilograms per room. Now, isn’t that lovely! 

Some positive reviews mention that this hotel is within walking distance to Taksim Square and about 30 minutes to Galata Tower. Guests also loved the clean and spacious rooms as well as the delicious breakfast spread.

Intercontinental Istanbul

The Intercontinental Istanbul is a 390-room at the center of Taksim. With Istiklal Avenue just steps away, this hotel is perfect for those who love shopping in Istanbul. All rooms are equipped with modern amenities such as internet access, a workspace, and a safety box.

The rooms also come with views of the city, Bosphorus Straits, or the Istanbul skyline with the Blue Mosque at a distance. The other amenities include a swimming pool and an outdoor baby pool, daily housekeeping, and a hairdresser and gift shop within its premises.

Some positive reviews mention the professional and friendly staff as well as the clean and comfortable rooms. Guests also loved the excellent location and the availability of vegan breakfast. 

The Marmara

The Marmara is a 388-deluxe room hotel located in the heart of Taksim Square. All rooms come with a hair dryer, tea/coffee making facilities, a safety deposit box, and an iron with an ironing board.

Some positive reviews mention the ideal location, clean rooms, and warm welcome from the staff. Guests also loved the varied breakfast spread and the romantic rooftop ambiance. Guests also loved the views of the rooms and that the hotel is exactly as advertised.

Kabataş for Vibe, Culture & Food

The third best and last area of our choice for our Istanbul 1 day itinerary is Kabataş which is located on the south-eastern side of the Beyoglu district. Kabataş is on the shores of the Bosphorus. This district is on the European side of Istanbul and is known for being the city’s transportation hub.

With ferries, funiculars, trams, and a bicycle track, there is plenty of options to see the district. You can take the F1 Taksim-Kabataş funicular line to get to Taksim Square. Alternatively, you can take a tram to Sultanahmet to view the historical sights of the city.

The best restaurants in Kabataş are Safran Restaurant, the City Lights Restaurant & Bar, Cok Cok Thai, and Nobu Istanbul. To make your planning easier, we have curated our top 3 choices of our best places to stay in Kabataş.

Artisan Istanbul MGallery

The Artisan Istanbul MGallery is a 136-room room that is a convenient 10-minute walk to Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue. Or, you walk to Pier Kabataş where ferries would take you to the Prince’s Islands which makes a popular day trip from Istanbul.

All rooms are equipped with modern amenities such as free WiFi, tea/coffee maker, ensuite bathroom with shower, LED television, minibar, work desk, a laptop-size safety deposit box, and hairdryer to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

Some positive reviews mention the courteous and helpful staff as well as the beautiful view of the Bosphorus from the rooftop. Guests also loved the clean and spacious rooms and the convenient location of the hotel which was near the ferry pier.

Mukarnas Taksim Hotel

The Mukarnas Taksim Hotel is a 32-room elegant boutique hotel located in the heart of Istanbul and is about 700 meters from Istiklal Avenue. All rooms in this hotel are equipped with air-conditioning, a work desk, a hair dryer, a safety deposit box, and a balcony with city views.

Some positive reviews mention that the hotel has an excellent location that is close to Istiklal shopping street and Taksim Square. Guests also loved the clean rooms, friendly and helpful staff as well as the delicious breakfast offered.

Trinity Hotel Taksim

The Trinity Hotel Taksim is a 52-room hotel that is within walking distance of Istiklal Avenue, Taksim Square, Galata Tower, and the Dolmabahce Palace. The hotel features express check-in and check-out, a 24-hour front desk, and room service.

All rooms are equipped with modern amenities such as free WiFi, LED television with satellite channels, and a laptop-compatible in-room safe. The rooms are also sound-proofed with premium beddings to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.

Some positive reviews mention the friendly and helpful staff, the excellent location of the hotel, and clean rooms. Guests also loved the spectacular city views from the rooftop terrace. A downside is that the rooms can be small with no wardrobes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Istanbul

We know that you might have more questions about Istanbul and we have answered several of them for you in our frequently asked questions on Istanbul. Let us know if you find this information useful.

What is the best month to visit Istanbul?

The best months to visit Istanbul is during the shoulder seasons from March to May and September to November. These months are during the spring and fall seasons. With pleasant weather and fewer crowds, these are the best months for sightseeing.

What is the coldest month in Istanbul?

The coldest month in Istanbul is February which has an average low of 39°F and a high of 48°F which also coincides with the winter months in Istanbul. Despite being the coldest month, you can see sunshine.

Always carry a portable umbrella and winter coat for the sudden rain and chilly weather. In February, the days are shorter, which means that the sunset occurs by 6 pm. 

Is English spoken in Istanbul?

Yes, English is spoken in Istanbul, although the official language is Turkish. You would be able to communicate in English at ease at all the tourist sites in Istanbul, Cappadocia, and the Aegean and Meditteranean coasts.

As you explore the outskirts of the city, it would be good to have a basic understanding of spoken Turkish as only a small portion of the population can speak basic English. Some useful phrases are Merhaba for “hello” and İngilizce konuşur musunuz? for “do you speak English?”.

Is there Uber in Istanbul?

Yes, Uber is available in Instanbul. You can book your Uber up to 30 days in advance, any time of year of the day. 

What food is Istanbul known for?

With Istanbul being a melting pot of cultures for over several centuries, this is the place to be to experience authentic Turkish food at its best. While Turkish cuisine is largely from the Ottoman Empire, there is a fusion of Mediterranean, Armenian, and Central Asian cuisines.

Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee, Turkish sweets, lokum, Turkish delight, baklava, Istanbul, Turkey
Photo by Victoria Morgan on Unsplash

The first of our food that is famous in Istanbul is Turkish coffee which can be found all over Turkey. This coffee is prepared by manual grinding either Arabica or Robusta beans to a fine grind.

Water and sugar are added to the coffee and the mixture is brought to a boil. Unlike modern coffee where the beans are filtered before drinking, Turkish coffee is served with finely blended beans.

This style of drinking coffee originated in the Ottoman Empire where Ottoman coffeehouses brought the people together for social, educational, and political activities. These coffeehouses were so popular that the government planted spies to gather public opinion.

Baklava

baklava, Turkish sweet, filo pastry and chopped nuts, Istanbul, Turkey

Photo by Aurela Redenica on Unsplash

The second of our food that is famous in Istanbul is baklava. This sweet is common in Turkey, Iran, and Arab. It is made from filo pastry and chopped nuts that are sweetened with either syrup or honey.

The best place to have baklava in Istanbul is Hafiz Mustafa in 1864 during the reign of Sultan Aziz Khan. The business is about 157 years with the tradition being passed down through the generation.

The second place to have baklava in Istanbul is Karaköy Güllüoğlu. The restaurant caters to vegans by having vegan baklava where separate utensils are used. What makes the baklava from this shop unique is that it is made with 40 layers, looks appetizing, and appealing to the eyes.

Raki

Raki, Turkish alcohol, Lions milk, Istanbul, Turkey
Photo by Misiokk on Wikipedia Commons

The third of our food that is famous in Istanbul is Raki. This drink is made with twice-distilled grapes and anise. It is Turkey’s national alcoholic drink and is nicknamed “Lion’s Milk”.

Raki was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s favorite drink as he was believed to have drunk about half-liter daily.  The drink is served cold and is diluted by adding ice which then turns the color to milky white. 

The drink is usually served with seafood and meze and was traditionally produced at home. Read How To Drink Raki: A Crash Course In Turkey’s Signature Drink to know more. 

Turkish Delights

Turkish delights, Istanbul, Turkish sweets, gel of starch and sugar, Turkey, lokum
Photo by Salih Akyürek on Unsplash

The fourth of our food that is famous in Istanbul is Turkish delights or lokum. This confectionery is based on a gel of starch and sugar and is flavored with bergamot orange, rosewater, and mastic.

The sweets are then dusted with icing sugar, cut into cubes, and packaged into boxes. Haji Bekir is believed to have created these sweets when he began selling these sweets at a small shop in 1877. By 1820, his sweets and lokums had reached the Ottoman Palace.

Haji Bekir was awarded the title of Chief Confectioner to the Palace. The fifth-generation is currently managing the Haji Bekir shop which has since expanded his shop to cater to both domestic and international tourists who visit for an authentic taste of his Turkish delights.

Grilled Corn

grilled corn on cob, Istanbul street food, Turkey
Photo by Michael Parulava on Unsplash

The fifth of our food that is famous in Istanbul is grilled corn or misir. This snack is only found during the summer months and is sold by street vendors on push carts. The boiled or grilled corn is sprinkled with salt, pepper, and other spices. 

While eating grilled corn on the cob is a childhood snack for many, you might find the new invention of corn in a cup where boiled corn kernels are mixed with spices to give it a sweet and tangy flavor.

This snack is often sold with roasted chestnut which has a texture similar to sweet potato. The chestnuts have a sweet and nutty flavor which goes well with the grilled corn. 

Why is Taksim Square famous?

Taksim Square is famous because it is at the heart of modern Istanbul. Today, the square is a transportation hub for locals and tourists. The area is also recognized for its nightlife, pedestrian shopping street, and home to international hotels and fast-food chains.

Is Istanbul walkable?

While the city is large, several areas are walkable. For history buffs, walk from Sultanahmet Square to Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. You can also walk in the Fener and Balat neighborhoods.

Another popular walking route is from Taksim Square through Istiklal Avenue ending at Galata Tower. This walk takes you through the best of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.

What is the best currency to take to Istanbul?

The best currency to take to Istanbul is the Turkish Lira (₺) or TL. The second-best currency is the Euro (€) while the third-best currency is the United States Dollars ($). For tipping, the Turkish Lira is preferred over other currencies. 

Is Istanbul worth visiting?

Yes, here’s why we think Istanbul is worth visiting, whether you are a first-timer or a frequent visitor to this beautiful city. Other than an Istanbul 1 day itinerary, you can consider longer stays to absorb what this city truly has to offer.

  1. History. This city is as old as time and has been the capital of 4 major empires, the Roman, the Byzantine, the Latin, and Ottoman Empires. It is not surprising that you can find landmarks of these empires throughout the city.
  2. Food. Who doesn’t love Turkish delights? With a mix of cultures throughout history, you can find your Turkish favorites and western cuisine. From mezes to baklava, make sure to try them all. 
  3. Beautiful landmarks. From Hagia Sophia to the Blue Palace, Istanbul’s historical landmarks have remained intact. As you explore the popular landmarks, why not visit the lesser-known sights of the city such as Galata Tower, Basilica Cistern, and the Women’s Bazaar. 
  4. Scenic views. With breathtaking views across the city, you can relax, with or without the crowds. From the cruise at Bosphorus to Galata Tower to the many rooftop bars, there is no shortage of the best views in this city.
  5. Shopping. The Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Istiklal, and Balat are just some of the shopping areas that are popular with tourists. Check out the lesser-known areas such as Women’s Bazaar, Galata Port, and Beyazit Book Bazaar for more bargains. 

Istanbul has consistently ranked as one of the largest cities since 500 BC, the city is dotted with architectural marvels from the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. While the city is huge, fast, and busy, there are pockets of peace all over the city.

Sip a cup of Turkish coffee at a cafe, spend time relaxing in the gardens, or relax at a hammam to take your stress away at the end of your Istanbul 1 day itinerary.

Istanbul 1 Day Itinerary
Istanbul 1 Day Itinerary