We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

Fort Lauderdale...
Level Contributor
239 posts
26 reviews
Save Topic
One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

Hi all,

My family will be in Istanbul, arriving via cruise ship on a Friday in late July, at 11:00, and leaving Saturday at 14:00.

My initial plan is to go to Sultanhamet first thing Friday and see Aya Sofya, Grand Bazaar, and the Blue Mosque. Dinner in Sultanhamet, and later, drinks on Istikal Caddessi.

Then, I planned to go first thing Saturday morning to Topkapi for 9:00 entrance, do harem tour immediately, and then take in the palace until about 12:00, then take tram back to Tophane.

Does this sound like a doable plan? Should we do Topkapi first on Friday and do some of the other sites on Saturday morning?

I realize we're tight on time but I would like to get an overview of all these locations. Heck, I am hoping I am able to squeeze in the cistern sometime on Friday as well!

Any thoughts/feedback greatly appreciated!

Regards,

GF

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
2,173 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

that is a tight schedule, but since everything you are seeing is so close to each other,you will be able to do it. aya sofya an dblue mosque will take an hour. covered bazaar afterward. do Topkapi on Saturday.

Kayakoy, Turkey
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
Level Contributor
9,051 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

I would suggest go to Grand Bazar first and have your lunch there (Havuzlu is a fantastic restaurant!!) and enjoy the atmosphere of the old Bedesten (deeper inside the Bazar).

Afterwards go and see Aya Sophia and you can see the Blue mosque in the evening as well. Mnd friday is a prayer day and the mosque is closed during prayer times.

And seeing Topkapi is a good plan, everything about it is just fantastic!

You can see the cystern after visiting the Grand Bazar, leave th4e Bazar from the Gold street, on the Nuruosmaniye mosque side. You cross and go straight ahead pass the pedestrian with all the carpets shops. Then you go to the right, there are signs as well.

A good thing would be to get a small map of Sultanahmet so you know where you are!

Hope this helps, good luck!

Istanbul
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
Level Contributor
36,856 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

Hi Guiseppe,

You have an excellent plan for your 2 days in Istanbul. It is very doable and you do not need to change anything. If you can find time in between those attractions the first day, you can visit Basilica Cistern also for about 30-40 minutes.

good luck,

enigma...

Surrey, UK
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
Level Contributor
7,098 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

The Basilica Cistern is next door to the Aya Sofya - and you can see it in about 20 mins if you rush! So it is worth trying to fit in as it is well worth while.

I think your plan is very do-able... (although you will not have a lot of time to linger anywhere!). Rather than have lunch on your arrival day, I would suggest getting some street food to save time - or just grab a quick snack! You can always make up for it with a fabulous dinner!

Fort Lauderdale...
Level Contributor
239 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

Thanks for all the replies!

I've been reading my DK Istanbul guide book and these boards and that helped put together my plan. I'm glad it sounds like everyone thinks it is a doable plan. We're going to keep it as-s, while adding the Basilica Cistern for a short half-hour visit.

Another question. I realize it will be a Friday so we need to be sensitive when trying to visit the Blue Mosque. As long as it is not during prayer time, how late at night can we visit until? Can we go at say, 8pm?

Regards,

GF

Mount Dora, Florida
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
Level Contributor
14,139 posts
243 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

You have an excellent plan, and adding the cisterns is something you will not regret. I also find DK Eyewitness very useful. I assume you are traveling during the summer. If so, the Blue Mosque should be open at 8pm.

Friday at noon prayer time the mosques can be crowded, but the service only lasts for about 30 minutes. I would try to see the Blue Mosque in full daylight if possible because I think it is more spectacular.

Fort Lauderdale...
Level Contributor
239 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

Thanks BR, I am going to be sure to include the cisterns. We will be there in the summer, last week in July. I will be part of an interesting group, ranging from a three-year-old to a 75-year-old, so pleasing everybody might prove difficult. And over course, I'm the only one doing any research, so if something falls flat I'm sure to get the blame. ; )

That said, I love researching different cultures and can't wait for my trip!

Regards,

GF

Mount Dora, Florida
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
Level Contributor
14,139 posts
243 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

GF - Every traveling group seems to consist of one person who does all the planning and everyone else who does all the complaining. I am also the "planner", but half of the fun is the preparation. I also have to admit that I trust my own planning far better than any other person lol - You have quite a challenge with ages and limited time, but I am confident you are going to have a great experience in Istanbul.

The first hour or so in Sultanahmet can be a bit overwhelming. It is hot, crowded with tourists and awash with salesmen seeking to sell you carpets, ceramics, jewelry, pashminas and every other conceivable thing as well as restaurant touts seeking your patronage.

Sometimes a visitor in the first hour is tempted to just run back to some place of quiet and cool solitude. Just take a few deep breaths, smile and tell the salesmen "no" and proceed with your plan. I always remind myself that it is crowded because it is so good! By the second hour you will be captivated by the enchantment and then you just begin to wish you could stay longer.

Fort Lauderdale...
Level Contributor
239 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

That's good advice BR, and I'm sure we will be overwhelmed. But that comes with the territory right? A whirlwind tour of one of the world's great cities is sure to boggle the mind. On this same trip we'll be doing it in Athens 9only 10 hours) and Rome (2 days) too. Exciting but...yikes! : )

You seem to really know the city. Can I ask you for some restaurant recommendations in Sultanhamet? I have a few written down that i have read about. We'd like someplace to have dinner on the Friday night, good Turkish food, nothing fancy for our group. Just good food and nice service.

GF

Fort Lauderdale...
Level Contributor
239 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: One day in Istanbul, what to do first?

Here are a few of the restaurants I am considering:

Albura Kathisma Café

Istanbul Enjoyer Restaurant

Rumeli Cafe

Sarnic Restaurant