03-09-2021 - Tips & Guides

Istanbul In 1 Day

Hundreds of years old palaces, churches & mosques, traditional Turkish Baths, bazaars, beautiful sights, strait that separates Europe and Asia: the Bosphorus, huge shopping malls, theme parks, nightlife, bars, clubs, delicious food all come together in this marvelous thousands of years old city: Istanbul. It’s not easy to decide what to do and where to go, especially if you have only one day to explore the city. We tried to come up with a customizable itinerary that is easy to follow.

Start the day with a classic museum visit (9am-11.30am)

There are tens of museums in Istanbul where you’ll find many interesting articles, however we can only recommend you to go with the TOP 2 museums in the city which are Topkapi Palace & Hagia Sophia. Even if you are not a big fan of museums, those two are musts. They are situated right in the heart of Sultanahmet Square and are very close to each other. Sparing 2 hr 30mn for both will be enough if you are not too slow.

One other important landmark is the Blue Mosque; but usually there are long queues infront of it and there is no way to skip queues. As you have a limited amount of time, we’d say let’s skip getting in and just admire it from the outside and get some pictures taken maybe?

Remark: If you do not have Istanbul Tourist Pass, you will need to wait at the ticket queues in front of both museums that might reach up to 1 hour of wait per museum.


Grab Turkish Bagels (Simit) and Hop-on to the double-deckers (11.45am-1.45pm)

You might be feeling hungry, or maybe not yet; but tasting a local street food is always fun and a restaurant visit in our plan is a couple hours ahead so let’s just grab one right? You’ll see many stands around selling Simit. Right around the park infront of the Hagia Sophia Museum, you’ll see the Big Red buses of BigBus Istanbul. Istanbul is a very large and crowded city, it’s not always easy to get around. A ride with BigBus will let you see many sights of Istanbul that are not so easy to reach. Most important of all, you’ll get to cross the bridge that connects Europe to Asia! With your Simit in your hands, roam around the city admiring important sights of Istanbul such as the Golden Horn, Galata Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace, Bosphorus Bridge, Beşiktaş FC – İnönü Stadium, Taksim Square & Gezi Park, Hard Rock Cafe, Süleymaniye Mosque, Egyptian Bazaar and many more. If you prefer to, you can hop-off at any point and catch the next bus to have more time in an area of your interest.

Price Information: 24-hr BigBus ticket costs around $35 USD (free if you have Istanbul Tourist Pass) and a Turkish Bagel (Simit) should cost no more than $0.50 USD.

Visit the legendary landmark: Galata Tower (5.00pm-5.30pm)

It’ll be a 10-15mn walk on the famous Istiklal Street, from the Galatasaray Turkish Bath to the Galata Tower. You’ll witness the crowd that locals live in everyday. Shops, street music, life is on that street. Once you reach your destination, you’ll be amazed with the beauty of the tower and the neighborhood. Once again, because of the limited time you have, we recommend that you skip entering the tower and just get some pictures taken from the outside; but ofcourse, it’s all up to you to alter the plan.

P.S.: Did you know that one of the first persons to fly, Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi, jumped off from the Galata Tower with the wings he made and flew all the way to the Asian side of Istanbul? There’s a local airport with his name in Istanbul today.

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Whirling Dervishes Show (6.15pm-8pm)

Let’s first start by explaning the timings. The Whirling Dervishes Show starts at 7pm; but you need to be there at around 6.15pm to catch the pre-show offerings. To get there, you’ll need to walk down from Galata Tower to the nearest tram stop and take the next tram to Sirkect stop. The show will take until 8pm and for the next attraction (Bosphorus Dinner Cruise) you’ll need to catch the next tram and make your way to the port immediately as the cruise starts at 8:30 pm. So if you prefer to choose this option, keep in mind that after the show, you’ll need to go on your own to the cruise and you’ll need to be fast. (Tram takes about 20mn)

Price Information: The Whirling Dervishes Show costs around $25 and includes admission + pre-show offerings (drinks). It requires prior-reservation and is completely Free if you have Istanbul Tourist Pass.

End the day and your trip with a signature experience: a Dinner Cruise on the Bosphorus (9pm-Midnight)

You may be feeling tired and maybe even wanting to go back to your bed; but the night is young and you’ll regret it if you miss what’s coming next. A luxury cruise, with specialities from the Turkish cuisine, unlimited drinks, belly dancer, traditional shows and a DJ performance at the end of the night, all surrounded by the beauties of the Bosphorus. Take a look back from the left window, you’ll be seeing Europe, on the right window, it’s Asia. How many times do you get a chance to experience something like this? At midnight, the magical night will come to an end and private transfer vehicles of the cruise will take you back to your centrally located hotel.

Price Information: The price of the Bosphorus Dinner Cruise is around €60-€80. (Istanbul Tourist Pass holders enjoy the Bosphorus Dinner Cruise for free!)

Enjoy Your Trip

It will be a long day, but you will have seen almost every important thing in Istanbul. You’ll put together so many memories in just one day that it will be an unforgettable experience.

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