7 Days in Istanbul
Welcome to Istanbul!
We have prepared a list of places in Istanbul for you to have a vacation full of culture, history, art, entertainment, various dining options and street tastes.
Our first stop is Sultan Ahmet Square and its surrounding area, the irresistible center of Istanbul.
You can start the day with a nice breakfast at Gulhane Park, leaning towards the walls of Topkapi Palace, with huge trees, tens of birds species nested on these trees, and cats nuzzling up against your legs found around you.
Then, you can walk up the Osman Hamdi Bey hill to go to Topkapi Palace.
TOPKAPI PALACE MUSEUM
The construction of Topkapi Palace, which started on the order of Mehmed the Conqueror after the conquest of Istanbul, was finished in 1478. Opened as a museum on 3 April 1924 and became the first museum of the Republic for this reason, it is one of the most wonderful palace museums found across the world.
Address: Topkapi Sarayi Muzesi, Sultanahmet – Fatih / Istanbul
For more information: https://www.millisaraylar.gov.tr/saraylar/topkapi-sarayi
HAGIA SOPHIA MOSQUE
Being among the most essential artifacts in the world of architecture that survived to this day, Hagia Sophia holds an important place in art with its architecture, magnificence, size and functionality. Hagia Sophia, the largest church Eastern Roman Empire has ever built in Istanbul, has been constructed thrice at the same location. It was initially named “Megale Ekklesia” (Grand Church), and then it was named Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) from the 5th century until the conquest of Istanbul. Megale Ekklesia, built in 360 by Emperor Constantinus II and the church of Theodosius II that was rebuilt in 415 were destroyed during the riots. The building, opened for worship as a church in 916, was transformed into a mosque in 1453 after the conquest of Mehmed II. Hagia Sophia was then transformed into a museum in 1935 on the order of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the decree of the Ministerial Cabinet. It was opened for worship as a mosque with the new regulation made in 2020.
Address: Ayasofya Meydani No:1 34122 Sultanahmet
For more information: https://muze.gov.tr/muze-detay?SectionId=AYS01&DistId=AYS
You may have your lunch in restaurants at Sultan Ahmet Square that offer the traditional tastes of Turkish cuisine, and continue your trip.
The history of this structure, also known as “Sunken Cistern” by the local people, but named as “Basilica Cistern” because of a basilica previously situated at its location, dates back to Byzantine Era. This magnificent structure, managed by Kultur A.S. of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, also hosts many events besides being used as a museum.
For more information: https://www.yerebatan.com/
Address: Yerebatan Cad. Alemdar Mah. 1/3 34410 Sultanahmet – Fatih/ISTANBUL
THE BLUE MOSQUE
One of the biggest achievements of the Turkish-Islamic architecture, The Blue Mosque was built by the apprentice of Mimar Sinan, Sedefkar Mehmed Agha in the 17th century on the order of Sultan Ahmet I. The mosque is among the most gorgeous structures of the city with its large social complex.
Address: At Meydani No:7 34122 Fatih / Istanbul
THE GRAND BAZAAR
The Grand Bazaar located in Beyazit district of Istanbul is considered among the oldest and largest covered markets of the world with its size and history. Containing more than 3,500 shops inside, the bazaar’s number of visitors sometimes exceeds 40 million people per year.
Address: Kapalicarsi Esnaflari Dernegi Kalpakcilar Cad. Sorguclu Han No: 22 Kapalicarsi Beyazit-Istanbul
Have a delicious breakfast in the places found at the seaside of Karakoy, or watch the Bosporus view beautified by seagulls and ferries with the fresh simit you have just bought from the port.
Get across from Galata Tower. Watch fishermen cast their fishing rods while wishing luck for a catch.
Give seeds to pigeons waiting for you in front of the New Mosque.
It is a mosque that had its foundation laid in 1597 on the order of Sultan Murad III’s wife Safiye Sultan, and opened to worship in 1665 thanks to the great efforts and donations of the mother of that year’s emperor Mehmed IV, Turhan Hatice Sultan.
Significantly enriching the silhouette of the city, the New Mosque is the last example of the great mosques built in Istanbul by the Ottoman dynasty. It is known as the mosque with the longest duration of construction within the Ottoman Era Turkish architecture. Its construction was started by Mimar (“Architect”) Davut Aga and continued by Mimar Dalgic Ahmed Aga, however, the construction which was halted with the death of Safiye Sultan could only be finished 66 years later during the reign of Mehmed IV by his master architect, Mustafa Aga.
THE SPICE BAZAAR
The Spice Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets of Istanbul, was constructed in 1660 and was named differently throughout history. It was named the Egyptian Bazaar after mid-eighteenth century because the majority of goods were coming from Egypt. The bazaar contains various shops inside, with the majority being spice shops, herbalists, jewelry stores and souvenir shops.
Address: Misir Carsisi No: 92 Eminonu – Fatih / Istanbul / Turkiye
For more information: https://www.misircarsisi.org.tr/
If the appetizing smell of spices in the Spice Bazaar made you hungry, eating fish sandwich with pickle juice at the historic fish restaurants of Eminonu would be the perfect choice for you.
For the afternoon, we suggest going to Balat.
Greek citizens who became rich by trading used to live in this district named Petrion during Byzantine Era. They abandoned their houses right before the conquest of the city, but returned later after being guaranteed by Mehmed the Conqueror that they would not be hurt and be free to worship their religion. Like Haskoy, Balat hosted a large Jewish population for years, and for this reason, it survived to this day with its mosques, churches, and synagogues.
You can walk along the narrow streets of Balat with its houses with bay windows, recently opened boutique cafés, historic churches, and its overall colorfulness that will make you feel the life in the street.
Beyoglu, formerly known as Pera. You can start the third day vibrantly with a breakfast and a nice, foamy Turkish coffee made on ember at the places established in historical inns. Because there are a lot of places to see and visit in Beyoglu.
Today, Beyoglu is a center of culture with its museums, Taksim Square, Istiklal Avenue and historic streets. During the Byzantine Era, Pera region used to be an important trade center where Venetians and the Genoese lived. Pera also suffered from the invasion and looting done by the Crusaders during the 11th century. After the conquest of Istanbul, the district once again became the center of art and trade. It is thought that its current name came from the communications between Suleiman the Magnificent and the ambassador of Venice, where the sultan referred to the ambassador as “Beyoglu”.
Galata Tower, one of the most historically significant structures of Istanbul, was constructed in 528 and was named differently throughout history. It is estimated that the height of the tower, including its roof, is 69.9 meters, with an approximate weight of 10 thousand tons and a wall thickness of 3.75 meters.
Address: Bereketzade Mahallesi Buyuk Hendek Caddesi, No: 2 – 34421 Galata / Beyoglu / Istanbul
At the foot of Galata Tower, you will definitely find a place that suits your taste for lunch. You can also visit Galata Mevlevi Lodge, located past Istiklal Avenue while walking from Galip Dede Avenue.
GALATA MEVLEVI LODGE
It is the first mevlevi lodge of Istanbul and one of the most important structures of Ottoman Empire.
CHURCH OF ST. ANTHONY
It is located on Istiklal Avenue of Beyoglu, on the left side towards the Tunnel from Galatasaray. Its construction started in 1906 and it was opened for service after being completed in 1912. Its architect is Giulio Mongeri, who was born in Istanbul. Operated by Italian priests, the church is the largest Catholic church in Istanbul. The church was constructed under Italian Neo-Gothic style using reinforced concrete.
Address: Istiklal Caddesi No: 171 34433 Istanbul
You should also go shopping at Cicek Passage, Aznavur Passage, and Atlas Passage in Istiklal Avenue.
Choose a nice place for dinner at Nevizade or Asmali Mescit.
You can start the day at Rumelihisari (Rumeli Castle), which seems far away at first, but is in fact quite easy to travel.
FORTRESSES MUSEUM (RUMELIHISARI)
Located in Sariyer district of Istanbul, and constructed against potential attacks that may come from the Bosporus before the conquest of Istanbul, Rumelihisari is found across Anadolu Hisari. Operating as a museum after the renovations carried out in 1953, the structure is one of the impressive places to visit in Istanbul.
Address: Yahya Kemal Cad. No.42 34470 Rumelihisari-Sariyer/ISTANBUL
For more information: https://muze.gov.tr/muze-detay?DistId=MRK&SectionId=HIS01)
Formerly a simple Greek fishermen’s town in the Byzantine Era, Bebek district today has become one of the best districts of Istanbul with its historical pavilions and other buildings. In order to maintain order during the construction of Rumelihisari and the conquest of the city, Mehmed the Conqueror assigned an officer nicknamed Bebek Celebi, who is the person the district was named after. You can continue to travel along the seaside after having a break at Bebek Park, which is also located at the seaside.
Get rid of your hunger with the irresistible taste of jacked potatoes when you arrive at Ortakoy.
It is a large grove covering the hillsides between besiktas and Ortakoy. This area, commonly known as Yildiz Park, is the outer grove of Yildiz Palace which has a quite wide range of variety in terms of vegetation. Walking courses, resting and sitting places, country coffee houses and interesting landscapes are organized inside the park.
Impressing everyone in an unique way with its view that shows the ever-changing beauties of the Bosporus, its centuries-old trees inherited from older generations, water pools and ponds, this park is an ideal place to enjoy for both the residents of the city and the visitors.
You may have your lunch here and continue with your trip after replenishing your energy.
Address: Yildiz, 34349 Besiktas/Istanbul
The construction of Dolmabahce Palace started in 1842 and continued until 1853, and it was used as an imperial palace and government office during the reign of Sultan Abdulmejid. Also used as the Presidency Palace during the presidency of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the palace holds great importance of the history of the Republic as it was the place where Ataturk passed away on 10 November 1938.
Address: Dolmabahce Cad. Besiktas 34357
For more information: https://www.millisaraylar.gov.tr/saraylar/dolmabahce-sarayi
You have to include the tour of Prince Islands if you want to consider your trip to Istanbul complete.
PRINCE ISLANDS (ADALAR)
They are geological formations that contribute to the beauty of Istanbul. Named differently throughout history, the most commonly known name of Adalar is Prince Islands. With its first ferry service conducted in 1846, access to Prince Islands is done regularly through urban lines and private transportation companies, from ports of Bostanci, Kadikoy, and Kabatas. You can visit https://www.sehirhatlari.istanbul/tr/seferler/ic-hatlar/adalar-hatlari-176 for more information and to view the timetables.
The first building on Buyukada was built during 6th century CE. Church and Monastery of St. George is found at its highest hill. There are also ruins and remains of many churches and monasteries that survived to this day. The air and noise quality of the islands are at a high level because it is forbidden to drive automobiles in the islands. The most prominent of the 4 mosques of Buyukada is Hamidiye Mosque built by Abdulhamid II. This mosque was built under the Western style architecture, and is located in Ada Camii Street.
The island contains around 7 thousand people. Besides its nature and clean air, it is also well-known because of its Naval High School, Sanitarium, and Halki Seminary. Cam Port and Bahriye Port, which are located at a pretty cove, are the most important of the 4 ports found in Heybeliada.
It is the third island of Istanbul in terms of size. With its restored, elegant pavilions, its seaside, pine trees and climate, it is among the most favorite places of Istanbul. Burgazada became widely known with its mansions and pavilions. There are beautiful wooden pavilions located in Gonullu and Mehtap streets, which are at the foot of hill looking over Kasik Island and Heybeliada, and especially at Sahilde Gezinti Avenue. Visitors need to go East from the ferry island in order to go to the old beach of the island.
We suggest you to spare a day for the Bosporus tour to watch the view of the Bosporus from its both sides. At the Bosporus ferries departing from Eminonu or Kabatas ports, you can also get off at the ports visited along the route and try various tastes besides the food & drink options offered at the ferries.
The history of The Maiden’s Tower, one of the most beautiful places of Istanbul, dates back to the Ancient Era. This place, which was opened to visitors in 2000 after the completion of restoration efforts commenced in 1995, is found between the places that are visited the most by many domestic and foreign tourists.
Address: Salacak Mevkii Uskudar 34668
There are various rumors regarding the origin of Kanlica’s name. According to one of the widely accepted rumors, an Ottoman sultan once ordered his men to find the district of Istanbul with the cleanest air. He also demanded advice from his viziers regarding how it will be determined. Then, one of the viziers suggested to erect poles with a piece of bloody meat at each district, by this way, the meat in the district with the cleanest air would be the last to become rotten. The sultan gave the order for the plan, and Kanlica turned out victorious by a large margin. The Ottoman Sultan then named the district “Kanlica”.
One of the districts of Uskudar, Kuzguncuk also stands out with its small cafés and restaurants today besides the nostalgic houses and atmosphere. Thought to earn its name from a holy person named Kuzgun Baba living in the district during the rule of Mehmed the Conqueror, Kuzguncuk is still one of the areas in the Anatolian side with strong and undisturbed neighborhood relations. Houses with bay windows and huge plane trees are the first ones to come to mind when it comes to Kuzguncuk.
Would you like to spend a day in the Anatolian side of Istanbul to its fullest extent?
If your answer is yes, then we suggest you to start the day by watching the Maiden’s Tower while drinking your morning coffee.
The foundation of Uskudar starts with Phoenicians settling on the area and building trade ports and shipyards at today’s Salacak coast around 1000 BCE. The district, where the settlement continued during the Roman and Byzantine periods, was called “Skutari” at that period. Uskudar became the vital center of the Anatolian Side after the conquest of Istanbul by Ottomans. Mosques and masjids, bathhouses, caravansaries, countless fountains, libraries, and many palaces, mansions and kiosks for emperors, sultans, pashas and bureaucrats were constructed. The first manned flight of the world was also carried out here by Hezarfen Celebi from Galata Tower to Uskudar.
BEYLERBEYI PALACE MUSEUM
It is located in the Anatolian side at the cost of the district with the same name. The palace is a complex consisting of the coastal palace building and its additional buildings. It was constructed in 1864 by the architect brothers Sarkis and Agop Balyan on the order of Sultan Abdulaziz.
Address: Abdullahaga Cad. 81210 Beylerbeyi
The palace is located in a large grove on the hillside of Cubuklu. It was constructed in 1907 by Italian Architect Delto Seminati on the order of Egypt Khedive Abbas Hilmi Pasha. The structure, which has a Western style architecture completely different from Turkish architecture, was built over an area of 1000 m².
Address: Cubuklu Korusu Cubuklu Yolu No:32 Beykoz / Istanbul
KADIKOY – MODA
With their vivid avenues, movie and theatre halls, shopping centers, parks, and with their restaurants that offer world-famous delicacies and boutique tastes, Kadikoy – Moda districts will add to the pleasure of your day and will become the places of your beautiful memories about Istanbul.