After last week´s post featuring the impressive Topkapi Palace, I just couldn’t let go of the city of Istanbul – not yet!

Let´s talk more about all the places I’ve managed to see during my layover. Even though I tried to be extremely organized and fast to cover everything I planned, one day in Istanbul – was definitely not enough…

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How to Spend One Day in Istanbul

Istanbul layover: One Day in the City

Istanbul is definitely one of my favorite cities around the world. A melting pot of cultures, a cornucopia of history, a bridge between Europe and Asia, the largest city in Europe – the list of things that makes it unique is truly endless.

While a day-long Istanbul layover is not enough to experience the city fully, it is a unique chance to get a quick glimpse of the main historical sites and meet the versatile Turkish culture.

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Istanbul is the largest city in Europe. With a population of 15 million – just imagine that traffic! So, in case you have a brief stop – keep in mind that in order to visit several places in one day, you’d rather be choosing those located close to each other. Plan your trip efficiently, that´s your only chance. And if you have more than just one day – check this 3 Days In Istanbul Itinerary for more ideas.

I´d say 3 days is a minimum for Istanbul, however if you have more you won’t be bored either. There are so many things to see and do!

Let´s face it: Istanbul layover with a one-day sightseeing plan – it sounds like a challenge, but why not?!

Istanbul layover: Must See Places

1. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque

The most emblematic Turkish landmark built between 1609 and 1616 years during the rule of Ahmed I, known as Blue Mosque or The Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

Here, you should mind the dress code for women: head, legs, and arms covered. I was wearing a long skirt (and as a solo female traveler, was “modestly” dressed for this trip in general, just in case). Although bringing something for my head has totally slipped my mind – so, I ended up buying a scarf in one of the local shops nearby (in the Blue Mosque they are supposed to provide you with skirts and headscarves, but it´s always great to have the one that is yours).

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Turkey
Inside The Blue Mosque

2. Hagia Sophia

An ultimate architectural phenomenon and a monument for both Byzantine and Ottoman Empire – Hagia Sofia. Built in 537 AD as an Orthodox cathedral of Constantinople, Hagia Sofia was converted into an Ottoman mosque under Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453. It is currently a museum. I´d recommend you to check the opening hours here.

3. The Grand Bazaar

I´m terrible at bargaining and markets always feel too crowded and overwhelming for me. However, being in Istanbul and not visiting one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world would be impossible. The Grand Bazaar is touristic, but you could still get there many local products and decorations. I normally go for the rose tea, rare spices and Turkish delights for souvenirs.

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An authentic Turkish tea set is something I wanted to have at home for a while (typical Turkish tea itself is quite strong for me, but I love those hand-painted saucers and glasses with Ottoman ornaments). But last time my layover on the way back home was too short, so I couldn’t buy on. Another reason to travel back!

Besides, next time I´ll visit Istanbul with kids and it’s going to be their first trip outside th EU. Can’t wait to discover new places in the city together!

The Grand Bazaar - Istanbul
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar - Istanbul layover
The Grand Bazaar

4. The Basilica Cistern

Built in 532, the Basilica Cistern is the largest surviving Byzantine cistern in Istanbul. It has 336 columns and is able to store up to 80,000 cu meters of water. What a subterranean structure!

The Basilica Cistern - Istanbul
The Basilica Cistern

6. The Topkapi Palace

After watching the popular Turkish Tv Show called The Magnificent Century ( Muhtesem Yuzyil in Turkish) I just couldn´t miss the Topkapi Place. Check more details and photos here.

The Topkapi Palace - Istanbul
The Topkapi Place

I can´t say no to Istanbul layover no matter where my final destination is. It is absolutely one of those cities you can travel back forever and always find something new. The Ottoman history is waiting to be uncovered around every corner, while the Turkish markets literally give you a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in this vibrant culture! No matter how many days you have, or which is your best Istanbul itinerary going to be – it will be an adventure! That´s for sure.

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Istanbul Layover: Top things to do

For more Turkey travel tips, itineraries, and photography check my Pinterest board Turkey Travel Collection.

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