Anyone visiting Turkey will quickly realize there’s an awful lot to take in, even in just one city like Istanbul. Trying to do everything can be exhausting, and you run the risk of missing out on hidden gems while you rush from one attraction to the next. To get the best balance between tourist treasures and local secrets, check out these suggestions on things to see if you only have one day in Istanbul.
First up is breakfast, and the locals often head to the banks of the Bosphorus River for the first meal of the day. Karaköy is a riverside district with plenty of local restaurants and cafes, so set up at one of the street-side tables to enjoy the view while you eat. Order a traditional Turkish breakfast of menemen, an omelette-like combination of eggs, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers, served with tea and bread.
Once that’s out of the way, it’s time for some retail therapy with a difference. The Grand Bazaar, recently the setting for a thrilling chase scene in last year’s Skyfall movie, is one of the city’s best known sights, and you can easily spend hours inside. This hectic and quirky covered marketplace is one of the biggest in the world and you’ll find some truly unique gifts amongst its 5,000 stalls. Be warned though – come prepared to haggle!
If you can tear yourself away from the delights of the bazaar, take a ferry trip on the Bosphorus for a particularly scenic history lesson, drifting past mosques, palaces, and modern high-rises. Then, travel to the Asian side of the city to the east of the river where you can check out the home of Fenerbahçe Football Club that plays the other city’s team Galatasary SK in the legendary Kıtalar Arası Derbi match. Istanbul is deeply passionate about football, and this century-long rivalry between Turkey’s two biggest clubs is one of the fiercest in the world. Once you’re back to where you started, it’s time to get touristy and check out the city’s most famous symbol, the Hagia Sophia. Yes, there will be crowds, but it’s well worth it to see this spectacular ancient building.
With the evening closing in, it’s time to sample Istanbul’s eclectic nightlife. İstiklâl Caddesi has plenty of pubs, eateries, and live music to keep you well entertained till the early hours. Then it’s back to your hotel for a well-deserved sleep, and to plan all the things you can do with another day in this vibrant city.
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