Istanbul in one day
Spend your only or first of two days in Istanbul in Sultanahmet (the Old city), moving closer to sunset in the Galata area.
Breakfast with Bosphorus view
A traditional Turkish Breakfast with a beautiful view of the Bosphorus is the best way to start your day in Istanbul. If your hotel does not serve Breakfast, go to the nearest cafe and order kahvalti (Turkish Breakfast) paired with Menemen (Turkish version of scrambled eggs, more details here).
If you are limited in time, it is best to start the day with a tour of the Topkapi Palace. It is ideal to be here by 9 am (opening time to avoid the crowds) and immediately go to the harem area. Before entering Topkapi, buy SIMIT, a Turkish sesame bun that will make a great snack on a spontaneous picnic somewhere on the grass or on a bench in the Topkapi garden. You can easily spend half a day in Topkapi, so if you are limited in time, keep track of the time and try to meet no more than a couple of hours.
Practical information (cost, schedule) can be found on the official website of the Topkapi Palace
Hagia Sophia, Basilica cistern and Blue mosque
The majestic Byzantine Hagia Sophia converted by the Ottomans into a mosque is located opposite the Blue mosque — a beautiful symbol of Ottoman Istanbul, you just need to pass through the blooming alley with fountains. The Basilica cistern is an underground reservoir in Constantinople, located just outside of Sofia. Both the Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque must be visited. Basilica cistern — a place for an Amateur)
Prices and opening hours can be found on the official website of the Hagia Sophia Museum
Lunch or snack in Sultanahmet
In fact, at this stage you will be very tired and wildly hungry. So plan an hour of delicious Turkish food and relaxation. Lahmacun or pide, the Turkish pizza is a great quick snack for those who are not particularly going to linger for a meal. Traditional Turkish coffee made over coals in the Sultanahmet area is a great way to cheer up)
Galata bridge and Galata
On the way from Sultanahmet to Galata bridge, stop at the spice Bazaar to buy spices and sweets. If you have the time and energy to climb the Galata tower, if not — just walk around the Galata bridge, watch the fishermen, watch the sunset.
The evening is ideal to spend in Karakoy — the area located just behind the Galata bridge. There are plenty of inexpensive restaurants, food courts, cafes, bars and stalls with rice-stuffed mussels.
Second day in Istanbul
If you have two days in Istanbul, you can slightly slow down the pace of the first day and postpone to the second day, for example, the ascent to the Galata tower. In any case, the second day in Istanbul should be devoted to the Bosphorus, shopping and Hamam.
A cruise on the Bosphorus
Start the day with a 1.5-hour Bosphorus cruise. After the cruise, take a walk under the Galata bridge and buy Istanbul's famous Balik ekmek sandwich, a fish sandwich that is prepared and sold from floating boat kitchens under the Galata bridge. A very fun authentic experience plus a great snack.
Suleymaniye mosque and Grand Bazaar
On the way to the Grand Bazaar, make a stop at the Sulaymaniyah mosque, where the famous Roxolana Hurem and her beloved Sultan The Magnificent are buried. Very pleasant and atmospheric place.
Spend an hour or two in the Grand Bazaar. Here, in principle, it is possible to find anything. If you don't need anything, you can just take a walk in the Grand Bazaar, looking at various Turkish products. In this area, you can also enjoy a delicious kebab at one of the small family restaurants.
Cemberlitas and dinner in Kumkapi
The second half of the day is dedicated to the original Turkish experience — a steam room in the chamberlitash Hamam. Here, every visitor will be thoroughly steamed and washed, and in addition, they will plunge into the atmosphere of old Istanbul)
Not far from chamberlitash is the Kumkapi district (see more in the guide), where you can have a very colorful dinner. After dinner, climb onto the terrace of your hotel with a bottle of wine or a Cup of tea and enjoy the views of Istanbul in the evening.