Heading to Turkey? We share this one-day in Istanbul itinerary, so you can see the major sights in just 24 hours.
Why visit Istanbul?
Istanbul deserves a standing ovation not just for having some breathtaking tourist attractions, but also for being one of the few cities across the globe that span two continents. The old city boasts of cultural influence that reflects various empires that reigned over this land throughout centuries, walking along Istanbul streets demonstrates just how much history can be found here.
From the Roman hippodrome to the Egyptian Obelisk as well as Ottoman Minarets and the old diocese, it’s full of contrasting cultures. Further, the attractions are so numerous that completing a full visit to all Istanbul attractions is an impossible mission without a plan made in advance.
With a well-thought trip itinerary, you have a chance to visit the most exciting places in just a day. Below, we present a guide on how to explore Istanbul in only one day.
Things to know before you go to Turkey
Getting e-Visa for Turkey
Istanbul has loads of amazing attractions. Hence, you will need to save every minute as it means an opportunity to see one more thing. Turkey’s e-Visa is one of the fastest ways to get into Istanbul without unnecessary formalities to handle upon your entry to the country.
e-Visa means a three-step application procedure, and the processing time can take less than a day. Therefore, you can forget about the traditional embassy application method that’s full of heavy paperwork and requires Embassy visits.
With e-Visa you will save plenty of your time and energy for a busy one-day visit in Istanbul. Please note that due to the COVID-19 situation, travellers going to Turkey need to apply for an Entry Form for Turkey, which can be obtained along with your e-visa. You can apply for your Turkey e-Visa and Entry Form here: visa-for-turkey.com.
Do not fall for a boat tour
During your visit, do not fall for a boat tour especially after coming from Hagia Sophia or Blue Mosque. While the deal may seem cool, it’s a waste of money and valuable time.
A boat tour doesn’t offer a great view of the attractions. Also, most of the boat guides hardly explain anything as they drive you around.
Comfortable dress code
For a one-day tour, a comfortable dressing code is essential. Therefore, check the region’s weather before parking clothes to wear. And since it’s a one day trip, you will be walking a lot.
As such, get comfortable shoes that are worn in. Pack also some light extra clothes to your backpack. If you are a lady, also take a scarf since you will need it to get into the mosque.
One day in Istanbul itinerary
Luckily, you can find most attractions within walking distance across the city. However, if some are a bit far, public transport will get you there faster. For your convenience, use Tramlines. They run across the city and will take you to the furthest Istanbul sites faster.
Now, let’s have a look at several sites that you can include on your must-see list when in Istanbul.
Local Turkish Breakfast
Start your day with an early morning breakfast. It is extremely important as you will walk a lot. Therefore, stop by a local restaurant for a local Turkish breakfast. It’s not only to get energy to start a busy day but it’s also an opportunity to embrace the local tradition and try local food.
After your first meal on that day, start sightseeing from the Blue Mosque dating back to the Ottoman era. The Blue Mosque is a stunning structure with both historical and cultural significance to the locals. Still functioning, this place of worship dates back to the 1600s.
It was a social and sporting ground of Constantinople in the Byzantine Empire capital. In simple terms, it’s a fascinating historical structure that represents past Roman reign over this territory. Moreover, it’s an architectural marvel that’s worth your time.
Hagia Sophia is another must-visit site on the Istanbul map. Started as the largest Christian church in the world many centuries ago, it retained that status up until the 15th century, when it was converted into a mosque. And for the next several centuries, it was a mosque until 1935, when it was turned into an antique place of worship for tourists to visit.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum
This is the best site for history enthusiasts. There are three museums within the same area to explore at once. First, is the Archaeological Museum, second is the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and third is the Museum of Islamic Art. On this site, there are over a million exhibits to explore. But remember, you don’t have the whole day to explore everything there.
Break for Lunch
During lunch hour, go for a break to boost your energy. Here you can grab Cağ kebab, which a local delicacy. It’s spicier and finger-licking better than the normal kebab. Take your time and relax. Don’t overeat to avoid stomach upset during your afternoon venture. There are a few more sites waiting for you!
Another imperial Ottoman mosque is Suleymaniye. It has a unique structure and it dates back to the 1500s. Therefore, to get some more understanding of history and culture, visit this place.
Galata Bridge is a unique landmark of Istanbul. While it may not be as fascinating as the London Bridge or Brooklyn Bridge, it plays an important role in connecting the two ends of the city. What’s more, it provides a magnificent view of the city skyline on both ends.
Top View at Galata Tower
Galata Tower is a historical monument. It was used for surveillance during the trade between Genoese and Byzantines. Currently, it’s still the tallest tower in the city and the oldest but with a strong bone. Therefore, you can have a spectacular top view of the city from this tower.
From the top of Galata Tower, have a stroll along Istiklal Street. It has a historical significance and is also part of the famous streets in the city. In a day, statistics show that over about 3 million people pass through this street.
And if you are wondering what to do here, there are music stores, boutiques, cinemas, art galleries, historical pastries, libraries, theatres, and cafes among other businesses to explore.
Visit the Grand Bazaar
The place to finalise your visit should be at Grand Bazaar. It’s an antique market that’s not only the largest in the globe but the oldest. With over 60 streets, you will hardly notice the time moving. It’s 8 kilometres in length and has over 4000 shops selling various items.
Dinner in Istanbul
Finally, you can end your long day with dinner in one of the local restaurants in Grand Bazaar or outside. At this point, you can relax and enjoy the evening in a nice surrounding. Certainly, you will be tired after so many hours of walking around the city. Anyway, at the end of the day you should be satisfied with what you have seen.
We hope you have an awesome time in Istanbul, let us know what you are most looking forward to seeing in the comments below.
Happy travels and Stay Creative!