Istanbul Galata Ferry City View

Istanbul Itinerary: What to See, Eat, and Do in One Week

Greetings, fellow travellers! If you plan to visit Istanbul, it’s going to be amazing. This city is a unique mixture of history, culture and delicious cuisine. I have just returned from a week in Istanbul and here is my top tips for making the most out of your adventure in Istanbul.

Day 1: Sultanahmet – The Historic Heart

Istanbul Fatih City View

Istanbul Fatih City View

Begin your journey at Sultanahmet where you will find many of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

  • Hagia Sophia: Once a church and mosque, this is now a museum whose architecture and history are simply breathtaking.
  • Blue Mosque: Opposite Hagia Sophia is this beautiful mosque with its six minarets and blue Iznik tiles; don’t miss it.
  • Topkapi Palace: Walk through the past residence of Ottoman sultans; be sure not to bypass Harem section as well as treasury.

Eat: A doner kebab for lunch will do just right. It’s convenient, yummy and low cost. For dinner try traditional Turkish restaurant like Balikci Sabahattin to have some fresh seafood.

Day 2: Exploring the Bosphorus

Istanbul Ortakoy and Bosphorus View

Istanbul Ortakoy and Bosphorus View

  • Bosphorus Cruise: Take a tour boat on the Bosphorus. Get to see stunning scenes of city’s skyline and also see such things as Dolmabahçe Palace and Rumeli Fortress.
  • Ortakoy: After your cruise, go to Ortakoy. This tiny area is perfect for walking at an easy pace. Try out some kumpir (stuffed baked potato) from the vendors that are found in plenty.

Eat: In Ortakoy, have lunch late in the day afternoon. Just pick up a kumpir and enjoy it by the sea. Go to Mikla for dinner, a rooftop restaurant that will offer you superior view and dining experience.

Day 3: Discovering Modern Istanbul

Istanbul Beyoglu and Galata City View

Istanbul Beyoglu and Galata City View

  • Taksim Square and Istiklal Street: It is basically modern Istanbul’s capital city location. Walk down Istiklal Street which is always alive with pedestrians, shops, cafes, and street performances.
  • Galata Tower: Climb up this tower for seeing across all parts of the city from above it is utterly worth it!

Eat: Have you lunch in any of those many cafes on Istiklal Street . For dinner go to Beyoglu’s Asmalı Cavit where they serve good meze(s) (appetizers) accompanied with raki (anise-flavored spirit).

Day 4: The Asian Side

Istanbul Kadikoy Street and Tram

Istanbul Kadikoy Street and Tram

  • Kadikoy: Take a ferry to the other side of Istanbul. For instance, it is in Kadikoy that one can find vividness and local feel. Discover the markets and have coffee at one of the trendy cafes around.
  • Moda: Moda, a quiet neighborhood with some parks and seaside cafes, lies just minutes away from Kadikoy.

Eat: Çiya Sofrası situated in Kadikoy is an ideal place for traditional Turkish dishes. Consider having dinner at Uskudar which has a range of fish restaurants along the Bosphorus.

Most Recommended Istanbul Tours

Day 5: Museums and Markets

Istanbul Modern Museum

Istanbul Modern Museum

  • Istanbul Modern: Visit this museum if you are interested in contemporary art because it is worth seeing.
  • Grand Bazaar: Explore various stores selling anything such as spices or jewelry. Remember to negotiate down prices!

Eat: Instead, try Pandeli located within the confines of Spice Market during lunchtime. If you want to sample Persian foods for supper, then visit Hamdi eatery near Galata Bridge.

Day 6: Princes’ Islands

Istanbul Princess Island Adalar

Istanbul Princess Island Adalar

  • Buyukada: Buyukada, one of Princes’ Islands can easily be reached by taking a ferry. One can rent bicycles or use horse-driven carts to explore the island’s interior.

Eat: You may choose to prepare your picnic items or opt for any restaurant on water in Buyukada – hence relax for some time. On return into town, Meze by Lemon Tree serves different types of small plates that are cooked deliciously and look stunning too!

Day 7: Relax and Unwind

Istanbul Hammam Inside

Istanbul Hammam Inside

  • Turkish Bath: End your trip with a relaxing Turkish bath (hammam). I recommend Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami near the Hagia Sophia.
  • Bosphorus Villages: If you have time, explore some of the charming villages along the Bosphorus like Arnavutkoy or Bebek.

Eat: Lunch in one of the cafes in Bebek with a view of the Bosphorus. For your last dinner, treat yourself to a meal at a fancy restaurant like Sunset Grill & Bar with stunning views of the city.

Finally…

Galata to Old Istanbul View Golden Horn

Galata to Old Istanbul View Golden Horn

  • Getting Around: Istanbul’s public transport is pretty efficient. Use trams, ferries, and buses to get around.
  • Language: While English is widely spoken in tourist areas, learning a few Turkish phrases can be very helpful.
  • Money: Credit cards are accepted in most places, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for small purchases.

Istanbul is a city that will capture your heart with its vibrant culture and rich history. Enjoy your trip, and don’t forget to take lots of photos! Safe travels!

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