Situated on the banks of the Bosphorus River and straddling two continents, Istanbul is a city that is not only just thousands of years old, but one that has been at the forefront of world history. Originally known as Byzantium, and then later, as Constantinople, the city was finally given the name Istanbul in the early 20th century.
Istanbul, with one half in Asia, and the other in Europe, is a city like no other where its architecture, culture, art, food and atmosphere is a true melting pot from all over the world.
Due to its geographical location and its rather excellent airline (read all about my guide to transport in Turkey here), many find themselves in this city for a layover. Or some, like myself, have a jam-packed itinerary and can only squeeze 24 hours in to visit Istanbul. Either way, 24 hours is by no means enough time to get to grips with this city, but you can certainly see the highlights!
I’ve put together a quick snapshot guide of the best things to do in a day to give a real for the city! Read on to find out more!
What to do and where to explore
Istanbul is a great walkable city and as always, this is my top recommendation for seeing the city. The architecture is really quite incredible, and a unique opportunity to view many different styles, all influenced from around the world. Some of the top sites to see include:
The Byzantine Hagia Sofia
Unmissable on any trip to this great city. It is also more than 1,400 years old!
The Galata Tower
Just off the city’s main street (Istiklal Caddesi), this Romanesque Tower offers fabulous views across the city. Located in the buzzing Karaköy area, it’s surrounded by great cafes and bars.
The Blue Mosque
Located in the historic Sultanahmet area, this wonderful mosque is surrounded by beautiful gardens. A sight to behold inside and out.
The Galata Bridge and the Bosphorus
A bridge where time can really stand still, where local fisherman wait for their catch. Connecting both sides of the city over the Bosphorus, a slow walk along the Galata Bridge offers phenomenal views in every direction.
Explore Istiklal Caddesi
This main street stretching from near Taksim Square down to the river at Karaköy, its international counterparts would be Oxford Street or Fifth Ave. The heart of Istanbul’s shopping, cafe culture and bar scene, it’s enviable you’ll end up on this street. Oh, and it gets pretty steep!
Did I mention there are cats everywhere?
Cafes in Istanbul
The city has no shortage of great places to grab a bite to eat and a great coffee. We stumbled across Latife Cafe and it was a fantastic stop.
Things to eat
Fresh fruit, everywhere!
And the Turkish speciality – Turkish Delight!
What to buy
Soaps and fabrics!
Where to stay
As you know may have noticed, I am partial to an Intercontinental and the one in Istanbul is a fantastic hotel, with an excellent location. Most impressive was its breakfast, of course! Oh and its pool was just what was needed after a long day of sightseeing.
Have you been to Istanbul? I’d love to hear if so – drop a comment below!
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