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How to Spend 1 Day in Istanbul

How to Spend 1 Day in Istanbul

So vast that it spans two continents, Istanbul is the meeting point of East and West, and every bit as diverse and cosmopolitan as you would imagine. With just one day to visit Turkey’s cultural capital, it’s best to stick to the highlights—of which there are many. Here are our suggestions for a memorable 24 hours in Istanbul.

Morning: Explore UNESCO-Listed Sights

Whether you choose to go at it alone on a hop-on hop-off bus, join a group walking tour, or hire a private guide, your sightseeing tour of Istanbul must begin in Sultanahmet. Istanbul’s historic center is full of UNESCO World Heritage–protected, must-see monuments. Step inside the magnificent Blue Mosque, so-called for the dazzling blue Iznik tiles that adorn its interiors. Walk through the ancient Hippodrome of Constantinople and its towering obelisk on the way to the stunning Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya), then tour Topkapi Palace, the lavish former residence of the Ottoman sultans. Prebooking skip-the-line tickets is a good idea to save time.

Afternoon: Practice Your Haggling Skills

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is world famous and with more than 4,000 stores, you could easily spend the entire afternoon browsing. Head there in time to enjoy lunch from one of the street food vendors—a classic Turkish kebab or dolma (stuffed eggplant) are top picks—before putting your haggling skills to the test. Continue to the nearby Egyptian Spice Bazaar, where stalls are heaped with a rainbow of dried fruits, spices, and lokum (Turkish Delight) in every flavor imaginable. Then cross the Galata Bridge and climb to the top of the Galata Tower for stunning sunset views along the Golden Horn.

Night: Take a Cross-Continental Cruise

Istanbul is even more magical by night, and an evening sightseeing cruise along the Bosphorus affords a prime view as you glide between the city’s European and Asian shores. Opt for a dinner cruise and feast on a 3-course meal of Turkish cuisine with traditional belly dancing entertainment as you float along the water. Along the way, spot landmarks including the Dolmabahce Palace and Ciragan Palace on the European shore, and Beylerbeyi Palace, Maiden’s Palace, and Anadolu Fortress on the Asian side.

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11 Tours and Activities

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Big Bus Istanbul Hop-On Hop-Off

Big Bus Istanbul Hop-On Hop-Off

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Istanbul is one of the world’s greatest cities, and this hop-on hop-off tour offers a truly flexible way to explore it. Board your open-top, double-decker bus at any stop along the two routes, and enjoy the views as you listen to the audio commentary. Then, create your own sightseeing itinerary as you hop on and off at any of the stops to visit highlights such as the spectacular Topkapi Palace, the UNESCO-protected Hagia Sophia, the Egyptian Bazaar, and more. Your ticket is valid for 1, 2, or 3 days and entry to select attractions.
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  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$53.24
From
$53.24
Taking safety measures

Private Tour: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour including Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace
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Private Tour: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour including Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace

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Experience the finest attractions in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district during this private, guided day tour of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. Marvel at these famous monuments alongside your expert guide who will give you individual attention on this private voyage.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$95.00
Price varies by group size
From
$95.00
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Istanbul Airport Private Arrival Transfer
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Istanbul Airport Private Arrival Transfer

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Enjoy less stress with this easy and private Istanbul arrival transfer. With this private transfer your driver will be waiting at the airport just for you. Then, you will take a leisurely ride directly to your Istanbul hotel avoiding any hassles. Available from either Ataturk or Sabiha Gokcen Airports.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$65.00
Price varies by group size
From
$65.00
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Istanbul by Night: Turkish Dinner and Show
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Istanbul by Night: Turkish Dinner and Show

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Immerse yourself in a wild evening of traditional dancing and music during a dinner and show in Istanbul. During a typical night in Istanbul you’ll see brightly lit mosques, but tonight savor Turkish fare and enjoy a show of rhythmic belly dancing and more!
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$65.00
From
$65.00
Taking safety measures

Istanbul Classics & Highlights Full Day Tour

Istanbul Classics & Highlights Full Day Tour

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Head back in time and discover the old world of the Sultanahmet area during this full-day small-group guided walking tour in Istanbul. This tour explores the amazing UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hagia Sophia Museum and the Blue Mosque which exemplify why Istanbul is the city where east meets west. Enjoy a walk through the famous Topkapi Palace where Sultan's roamed and harems flourished. Plus, spend time observing the Hagia Irene’s Byzantine architecture and stroll through the Grand Bazaar to witness handicrafts created by local artists.
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  • 7 hours 30 minutes to 8 hours 20 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$106.47
From
$106.47
Taking safety measures

Bosphorus Dinner Cruise An Unforgettable Experience in Istanbul

Bosphorus Dinner Cruise An Unforgettable Experience in Istanbul

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Ensure your spot on a Bosphorus River dinner cruise for a memorable night out in Istanbul. The dinner cruise includes a 4-course meal of Turkish fare, and live entertainment that features traditional music and belly dancers. Soak in the sights of the city at night during your cruise on a tour that includes the convenience of hotel pickup and drop-off.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$41.41
From
$41.41
Taking safety measures

Istanbul Evening Food Walking Tour

Istanbul Evening Food Walking Tour

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Treat your palate to Istanbul’s exciting flavors on a 3-hour evening food walking tour. Follow a food-enthusiast guide around hidden streets and neighborhoods, and scout out the best food haunts the city has to offer. Taste treats such as 'borek' (flaky pastry); nibble on enticing ‘meze’ (small appetizers) at a ‘meyhane’ tavern, and savor ‘raki’, the locals’ beloved anise-flavored firewater. As you walk and eat, learn about Istanbul’s cuisine and the ingredients and influences that have shaped it. Numbers are limited to 12 for a more personalized atmosphere.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$103.91
From
$103.91
Taking safety measures

Skip the Line: Hagia Sophia plus Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Skip the Line: Hagia Sophia plus Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

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Explore the bustling Grand Bazaar and save time with skip-the-line access to top attraction Hagia Sophia on this half-day small-group guided tour in Istanbul. Bypass the long queues at Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO-listed monument, and learn about the history of this former church and mosque. Ogle mosaics and gaze up at the its dome structure, an engineering marvel. Then, take the pulse of the Grand Bazaar, a bustling covered market with over 4,000 shops and stalls. Learn the bargaining ropes from your guide, and then peruse through countless tapestries, antiques and souvenir stalls. This small-group tour is limited to 15 people, creating a more personalized experience with your guide.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$59.15
From
$59.15
Taking safety measures

Istanbul Shore Excursion: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour
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Istanbul Shore Excursion: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour

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See the best of Istanbul on this 1-day sightseeing Istanbul shore excursion. With the help of your expert local guide, spend your time at port in Istanbul exploring this world class city’s many highlights. This tour serves as an ideal introduction to this fascinating city that spans two continents and many worlds. After, you will return to your ship for an on-time departure.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$65.00
From
$65.00
Taking safety measures

Istanbul Shore Excursion: Private Istanbul Express Sightseeing Tour

Istanbul Shore Excursion: Private Istanbul Express Sightseeing Tour

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With no time to spare, see Istanbul’s top monuments and highlights on this private express shore excursion. This sightseeing tour is perfect for folks with limited time, yet crave an in depth taste of Istanbul. Visit the Hagia Sophia museum, a 6th century city icon filled with mosaics and an imposing dome roof. Nearby, see the Blue Mosque and its interior walls covered in blue Iznik tiles. Discover the maze of shops and stalls in the Grand Bazaar where your guide enlightens you to its Ottoman influences and rich history. With personalized attention from your private guide, experience the greatness of Istanbul.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$153.80
Price varies by group size
From
$153.80
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Istanbul Private Arrival Port Transfer
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Istanbul Private Arrival Port Transfer

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Forget hailing a taxi when you arrive in Istanbul, and instead prebook your hassle-free arrival transfer from Istanbul's cruise port to the city center. This transfer is great because you can book a service any day of the week. Booking is easy too, simply provide your cruise info and any Istanbul hotel or tour info (if relevant). Then, relax and remain worry-free when you arrive in Istanbul. These private vehicles can accommodate up to six people.
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  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$38.00
Price varies by group size
From
$38.00
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures