Friday - Welcome to Beautiful İstanbul!
A comfortable and relaxing accommodation
Whether you’re travelling solo or with family, İstanbul provides an array of hotels featuring breathtaking Bosphorus views, proximity to historical sites and luxurious amenities. A majority of these hotels have sustainability certification from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and many include plush spas and hammams.
Saturday – Let’s Start!
08.00-10.00: The best way to begin the day: Turkish breakfast with a twist
The ideal way to start the day is a Turkish breakfast, which is rich, hearty, and delicious. When you order a breakfast “spread” at one of the restaurants on the Historic Peninsula – many of which have breathtaking Bosphorus or city views – you may be surprised by what arrives at your table. If you haven’t yet enjoyed the traditional Turkish breakfast, here’s a preview: a variety of cheeses including white, tulum and kaşar, çökelek or mihaliç; tasteful green and black olives from the Marmara, Aegean and North Aegean regions; fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and greens; and honey, homemade jams and kaymak (clotted cream). Do sample menemen, the indispensable breakfast dish made with eggs, peppers and tomatoes. And, of course, it is all accompanied by plenty of simit, warm bread and freshly brewed tea in tulip-shaped glasses.
10.00-14.00: The Historical Peninsula, an open-air museum in the heart of the city
After breakfast, you can explore the Historical Peninsula, which magnificently displays the city's historical texture. The highlights of this open-air museum include the majestic and indescribably beautiful Hagia Sophia, the dramatic Blue Mosque, and the intriguing Basilica Cistern, as well as Topkapı Palace, where Ottoman sultans resided, and the İstanbul Archaeological Museum in its garden. A few steps from the Hagia Sophia is the Hagia Sophia History and Experience Museum. The area is also home to several historical eateries where you can take a break for lunch and sample the famous Sultanahmet meatballs.
14.00-16.00: The Grand Bazaar, providing ‘shopping therapy' to visitors for centuries
A short walk brings you to the bustling Grand Bazaar after lunch in Sultanahmet. Home to the city’s treasures, the Grand Bazaar invites you to find your own among a dazzling selection of carpets, ceramics and tiles, jewellery – and so much more!
16.00-18.00: A lovely Bosphorus sunset
Now it’s time to take the tram to Eminönü and visit the Spice Bazaar. Colourful and aromatic, this covered market features stalls with various foodstuffs and medicinal herbs, spices, dried fruits and Turkish delight. From the Spice Bazaar, it’s a five-minute walk to the ferry piers and a Bosphorus tour. Generally departing on the hour, the tours vary in duration. On the short tour – about ninety minutes – you can view both sides of İstanbul from the Bosphorus while admiring the sunset. Before starting your tour, you can snack on fish bread from the nostalgic boats in the harbour.
19:30-22:30: Wonderful Turkish cuisine awaits you
After a boat ride along the Bosphorus, crown your first day in İstanbul with a delicious dinner at one of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants. İstanbul's distinctive gastronomic scene offers delights from innovative and daring chefs who are proud of their traditions. Enjoy an unforgettable meal accompanied by fine Turkish wines.
Sunday - There is so much to do before saying Goodbye!
10.00-14.00: Live like an İstanbulite on Sunday
You can start your second day in the city with a breakfast of crispy simits, white cheese and tea in the side streets of Karaköy, just like a regular İstanbulite. Then, enjoy a leisurely stroll through Karaköy, which is famous for its bohemian cafes and art galleries. The road leads to Galataport İstanbul, the renewed port and the centre of attraction of Karaköy. You can take a coffee break in this modern oasis, which hosts high-end restaurants, cafes and shops along the coastline, and reach İstanbul Modern, Türkiye's first modern and contemporary art museum. The five-storey İstanbul Modern building, designed by star architect Renzo Piano, is as impressive as the artwork. Afterwards, you can enter the halls of the nearby İstanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture, where you can see exhibits of Türkiye’s finest artists.
14.00-18.30: There is so much to see in Taksim, right in the heart of the city
The historic Tünel (Tunnel), Türkiye’s first underground rail system and the world’s second oldest, connects Karaköy to İstiklal Street. Alight from the train, curve down the road and climb the Galata Tower, one of İstanbul's most iconic symbols, for a panoramic view of the ancient city. Upon returning to İstiklal Street, you can explore this famous promenade by foot or via the nostalgic red tram. Stately buildings, arcades, large and small shops, galleries, bookstores and famous churches, particularly St. Antuan, along with much more... During your street tour in İstanbul, a city renowned for its street flavours, you’ll pick up the scent of many delicious specialities, including fragrant roasted chestnuts and grilled corn, stuffed or fried mussels, kokoreç and other tasty snacks.
19.00-23.30: Have fun like an İstanbulite
Your walk down İstiklal Street concludes at Taksim Square and one of the city’s great temples to art, the spectacular Atatürk Cultural Centre (AKM). The magnificent Opera Hall of AKM, with a capacity of more than two thousand people, stages world-class shows and concerts. After a show, you can return to İstiklal Street and finish the evening with meze, fish and raki in one of the area’s celebrated taverns.