Here's how to see the top
sights of Istanbul, on a guided tour, on your own, or with a recommended Licensed
Many companies offer half- and
full-day Istanbul city tours.
Efendi Travel offers innovative, high value-for-money half- and full-day tours.
Their Old Istanbul Guided Walking
Tour may be the most cost-effective
way to see Istanbul's top sights in
one day. Their Chora Church & Golden Horn tour takes you to some out-of-the-way Istanbul sights
such as the City
Walls, Yedikule (Fortress
of the Seven Towers), Kariye
Museum (Church of the Holy Savior
in Chora), and Pierre
Loti café. Their Bosphorus
Cruise & Spice Bazaar tours are
good and inexpensive as well. More...
Want to do it on your own? It's easy to find your way around Sultanahmet Square, with the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, the Hippodrome, Basilica Cistern and Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts all close together. When you've seen them, follow these self-guided tours, map in hand, to see more:
Walk from the Hippodrome along the ancient road to Rome, now called Divan Yolu, to visit the heart of historic Istanbul, ending at the Grand Bazaar. More...
The Grand Bazaar is only the best-known of Istanbul's many markets. Follow this walking tour downhill through the Tahtakale district along the Street of the Long Market (Uzunçarşı Caddesi) to see the rest. At the bottom of the hill, on the shore of the Golden Horn, is the stunning Rüstem Pasha Mosque and the Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar. More...
Stroll along İstiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) in Beyoğlu, the 19th-century Europeanized district of Istanbul, for boutiques, cafés and restaurants, music clubs and bars, and the grand embassies built by the European powers in the capital of the Ottoman Empire. More...
Have a long layover at the airport? Can you only afford one day here on your way to somewhere else? Here's a plan for visiting the top
sights in minimal time, just
right for a full-day stopover
or a quick overnight visit. More...
you have 2 days, or 3 or 4, this
is the itinerary for your (long-)
weekend getaway in Istanbul. More...
The Bosphorus, Princes' Islands, Black Sea beaches, Bursa, Edirne, even Çanakkale, Gallipoli and Ephesus are possible day-trips from Istanbul. Here are the best
day-trips, overnight excursions and
short multi-day trips from the metropolis. More...
or day-long excursion up the
strait that runs through Istanbul,
visiting castles, palaces...
and—if you're like me—fish
south across the Sea
of Marmara in a fast
catamaran ferry to see this first
capital of the Ottoman
its fine old mosques, silk
weaving trade, and thermal
spas; make it an overnight and
(Nicaea) as well.
day-long excursion by bus or car to
see the fine old mosques and
lively bazaars of the second
Ottoman capital, delightfully free
of tourist crowds.
by bus or car to
see the Dardanelles,
battlefields, and even ancient Troy;
possible in a day, but better as
an overnight by bus or car
(or on a self-drive
tour all the
way to Ephesus.)
classical city on the Aegean or Mediterranean,
a must-see; go by plane for
the day, or overnight, or take
Self-Drive Tour from
Istanbul via Gallipoli, Troy, Bergama
(Pergamum), Ephesus and Kuşadası.
—by Tom Brosnahan