What To See In Sultanahmet (The Old City) In Istanbul
Counting that the area Sultanahmet was the very center of the city that maintained as the capital of both Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, there is an immense heritage that must be experienced while visiting Istanbul.
You should start with the must-see monuments, enjoy a local lunch to get rid of tiredness, get lost in the labyrinths of the old bazaars, find a rooftop to witness the sun go down towards the Golden Horn, and finally reward yourself with a Turkish bath treatment to refresh. Welcome to the center of World History.
Must-See Monuments Around Sultanahmet
Most of the sites that should be visited in Sultanahmet are located by the Ancient Hippodrome where the horse races were held during the Byzantium Era. There is nothing left from the Hippodrome itself, however, the Obelisks and the Serpent Column are still standing in the middle.
Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, which is turned into a Mosque again recently, are next to each other and attract millions every year. The next stop should be the devastating Basilica Cistern which used to be a water supply for the Byzantines, then the Ottomans for a while. In a few steps, you may reach the main gate for the Topkapi Palace, where the sultans dwelled for ages.
The less popular in Sultanahmet is the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque also deserves a visit on the way to the fish market if you are looking for decent seafood for your belly. There are also lots of choices in the region for local food seekers and street food lovers.
The world-famous Grand Bazaar, which was the center of commerce during the Ottoman Era will swallow you up and you will get lost in the labyrinths like every other tourist does but nevermind, try just to enjoy the first shopping mall of the World that seems quite different and authentic than the every other existing one.
Then you may walk down to Spice Market where you may find good quality spices with considerably reasonable prices. Some herbs which are used in Turkish Kitchen and Turkish delights could be nice souvenirs on the way back home or as gifts for your friends or relatives. Just across the Market, you will see the Galata Bridge. By the bridge, you will have the opportunity to taste one of the best street foods of the city, fish in bread.
Another bazaar that attracts attention is Arasta Bazaar which is a kind of boutique in comparison but if you are looking for some good quality local products, this could be the best address without hassle. After visiting the Arasta, you may enjoy a few beers on a rooftop in the restaurants close by or you may check Akbiyik Street for decent pubs.
Turkish Bath Experience
After the long day wandering around, the best address to refresh will be a Turkish Bath, preferably a historical one to have a unique and authentic feeling. The luxurious Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam will possibly be the best address to experience the hamam as it was built by Sinan at the request of the wife of the Suleyman the Magnificent. There are some other historical baths around that are still available for different budgets.
It is not easy to do all Sultanahmet in one day for sure but you may get private guided tours for you who will make your day, help you not to waste your time in the lines by skipping them, give you the advice to eat the best or assist you with the bookings.