10 must see places for one day in Istanbul

This is what I like to think is the ultimate guide for travellers who only have “One day in Istanbul”. It includes 10 places to see and experience and even includes a miniature Bosphorus tour (of only about 15 minutes!). One day in Istanbul- Quick List: Start in Taksim. Get your hotel here. (Daru Sultan […]

This is what I like to think is the ultimate guide for travellers who only have “One day in Istanbul”. It includes 10 places to see and experience and even includes a miniature Bosphorus tour (of only about 15 minutes!).

One day in Istanbul- Quick List:

  1. Start in Taksim. Get your hotel here. (Daru Sultan Hotels is a great place I’ve found)
  2. Breakfast in Beşiktaş
  3. Ferry on the Bosphorus to Eminönü then taxi/tram to Sultanahmet
  4. Sultanahmet: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque & Basilica Cistern
  5. Grand Bazaar (Short walk from Basilica Cistern in Sultanahmet)
  6. Spice Bazaar (in Eminönü, very close to where you will be after walking down the Grand Bazaar)
  7. Food under the Galata Bridge
  8. Galata Tower for Eagle Eye view of İstanbul
  9. Back to Taksim!

To see all the places on this list on a map, please click here

This is in my opinion the very best of Istanbul. Please do comment what you think of this guide and how I can improve it. Would love to see the places you prefer, and maybe it will even change this list in the future! 

This guide is aimed at people who have only one day in Istanbul to experience the culture and want to make the most of the day, seeing as many places as possible. l will edit this many times until I have found the perfect sequence and timings necessary to make the most of the day. Whilst I have been to Istanbul many times (16 up until September 2017) I have generally been there for more than 3 days, however, in September 2017 I will be taking my family to attend my wedding in Turkey. Since it is their first time in Turkey, I wanted to make sure they could have at least one day in Istanbul seeing all the best places, which is exactly what I am going to do!

So the following itinerary is what I will be taking my family on. It assumes that you have 24 hours in İstanbul (so arriving late the previous day and leaving the following).

Firstly, this guide will start in Taksim which is 60₺ ( approximately £7.48) and 17 miles away from Istanbul Ataturk Airport by Taxi or 46 minutes by underground train and 4₺ ( approximately £0.50) each person. This is less than 2 miles from Besiktas. There are several reasons for starting in Taksim such as:

  • There are lots competition for hotels which means you can get a very high quality place to stay without costing a lot. Expect around 150₺ ( approximately £18.70) for one night or 3-4 stars.
  • It is central to everything on this list
  • It has a huge variety of shopping places, mini bazars, restaurants, bars

To get from Ataturk airport to Taksim, take the M1A in the airport to Yenikapı and the M2 from Yenikapı to Taksim. Very easy!

Most hotels will include breakfast in the price, despite this, I am going to ask you to trust me and instead travel to Beşiktaş for breakfast which is only 2 miles away, a very quick ride by taxi, it will be worth it!

If you would like to read more on where to choose your hotel (and find out why I suggested Taksim) please read this post.

Besiktas- Breakfast & Bosphorus Journey

  • At 8am arrive in Beşiktaş to have Breakfast. Beşiktaş is renowned for breakfast and is a must for your first visit! The street you are looking for is Çelebioğlu Sokak
  • After breakfast, around 9am. Take a Ferry from Beşiktaş to Eminönü (Time schedules below) this is instead of a Bosphorus tour, just a quick 15 minutes journey on the Bosphorus to give you a feel! You will need an İstanbulKart for this ferry.

You are now in Eminönü which is a former district of İstanbul in its own right, it is now known as a Neighbourhood and it has the Spice Bazaar and very close to the Grand Bazaar. Despite this, we will be taking a taxi or tram to Sultanahmet (up-to you! I prefer Tram as it adds to the experience) because the Grand Bazaar is on a large incline, and I thought you might prefer walking down it than up!

Sultanahmet – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern & Lunch

  • Take tram or taxi to Sultanahmet and spend some time looking around the Haghia Sophia
  • Following this, walk a short distance (approx 7 minutes) and see the Blue Mosque
  • 10 minutes casual walk later to see the Basilica Cistern. This should finish around 13:00.
  • Have a relaxing lunch and Finish at 14:00.


    • Walk to the Grand Bazaar and get lost (it’s difficult not too) in the many shops  (Warning: Most commercial items you see in the Grand Bazaar: Perfume, Bags, Clothing etc will be fake/very good imitations. This is generally reflected in the price. )
    • Look at Spice Bazaar.. Time should be around 16:00?
    • Have dinner in a restaurant under the bridge near Eminönü or go to Taksim and eat there.
    • If you still have time and are not too hungry, visit the Galata Tower to have an eagle view of İstanbul! Truly worthwhile if you have time.
    • Walk to Taksim – 10 minutes. (You are now back where your hotel is)
    • Look around Taksim – Can highly recommend

Hope you enjoyed this guide for places to see for travellers who only have one day in Istanbul to experience the culture of this great city. Please do comment and let me know if you would like to see something different in this post. Thank you!

Timetable for Besiktas -> Eminönü Ferry

Besiktas (Departure)Eminonu (Arrival)

The times in the Table may vary, whilst we will update when we see changes, we cannot guarantee to it’s accuracy. The data for this table is from: This Istanbul Website It is Turkish but can be viewed in English.