Following my previous post about the impressive Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, I’m happy to share with you other places I’ve managed to see during my layover in the city. Even though I tried to be extremely organized and fast to cover everything I’ve planned, one day in Istanbul – was definitely not enough. With a population of 15 million – just imagine that traffic! So, in case you have a brief stop in this largest Turkish city – keep in mind that in order to visit several sites in one day, you must choose those located close to each other. Here are my top sites for one day in Istanbul. 

Istanbul Layover: One Day in the City

1.The Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Built between 1609 and 1616 years during the rule of Ahmed I, it is also known as a Blue Mosque. For visiting The Sultan Ahmed Mosque you should mind the dress code for women: head, legs, and arms covered. I was wearing a long skirt (and as a solo traveler, was “modestly” dressed for this trip in general) but I didn’t think of something for my head. I ended up buying a scarf in one of the local shops nearby (they are supposed to provide you with skirts and headscarves, but it´s always great to have yours with you).

2.Hagia Sophia

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. 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 one.

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.

6.The Topkapi Palace

I liked the palace so much that I made it a separate post. All the details and more photos here.

Have you ever been to Istanbul? Which site has impressed you the most?

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