Tour Istanbul in One Day

Last Updated on July 20, 2022

Pupa Travel - 1 Day Turkey Tour

We provide the best professional guides for you. They are all government licensed, universtiy graduated ones who are the expert on their subjects. They will meet you at the reception of your hotel in the morning and you will make your program together which is total flexible. All day the stories and the life you will hear from them will bring the city of Istanbul to life. More...

If you have only a day, or part of a day, to see the sights in Istanbulefficient airport transport is essential, so I recommend you consider the economical private airport transfersguided tours and similar travel services of my friends at Efendi Travel in Sultanahmet.

Efendi's professional drivers and airport welcome staff know the traffic situations at all times in Istanbul, and their GPS-tracking-equipped Mercedes vans and minivans can whisk you into the city to see the sights and return you to the airport in time for your onward flight.

Luckily for those with little time, Istanbul's top sights are grouped right around the Hippodrome in Sultanahmet Square, so it can be possible to visit them all on your first (or only) day.

The challenge is crowds: Istanbul is such a popular travel destination these days, especially in AprilMaySeptember and October, that lines/queues to enter can be very long.

Here's How to Skip the Ticket Lines

You can skip those l-o-n-g ticket lines at major sights by taking a tour, hiring a private guide, or buying a Museum Pass.

Efendi Travel offers moderately-priced one-day walking tours. For a premium tour, contact Istanbul Tour Studio.

Reserve one of my recommended licensed private guides, well in advance—their agendas fill up quickly. More...

An alternative is the Museum Pass, which allows you to jump the line as well. More...


Topkapı Palace

Get there at 8:45 am and go straight to the Harem, which gets overcrowded (9-5, closed Tuesday; stay 2-3 hr).

Blue Mosque

Just across the park from Ayasofya, on the Hippodrome, the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet III (Sultanahmet Camii) is always crowded, and often closed for prayers. Check the prayer times and plan your visit accordingly (stay 1/2 hr), or visit a different imperial mosque to save time and have a better-quality visit. More...

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)

Right next to Topkapı. Don't miss the best mosaics, on the upper level (9-4, closed Monday; stay 1 hr).


Lots of restaurants on Divan Yolu, but better prices in nearby Sirkeci and Hocapaşa.


Byzantine Hippodrome

The park in front of the Blue Mosque is the ancient Hippodrome, with two obelisks, a truncated snake column, and a fountain donated by Kaiser Wilhelm II (stay 1/2 hr).

Basilica Cistern

At the NE end of the Hippodrome, just across the street from Hagia Sophia, beneath the little park (Yerebatan Saray Sarnıçı, 9-5; stay 1/2 hr).

Grand Bazaar

Walk uphill on Divan Yolu from the Hippodrome and see the sights along the way, or take the tram along it to Çarşıkapı (CHAR-shuh-kah-puh) (9-5, closed Sunday & holidays; stay 1-2 hrs, longer if you're really shopping). An alternative, open every day of the week, is the Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar by the Galata Bridge on the Golden HornMore...

Bosphorus Cruise

If one of the above sights is not of interest, substitute a 75-minute cruise up the BosphorusMore...


Basilica Cistern


Turkish Bath (Hamam)

Turkish bath (1-3 hr) can be amazingly refreshing after a long day! Here are suggested hamams.


Istanbul has dozens of excellent restaurants for dinner.

—by Tom Brosnahan

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