The Perfect Day in Istanbul
Collected by AFAR Editors, AFAR Staff
Spend the day indulging your senses with experiences as diverse as this vast and wondrous city. Wake up early to wonder at the Christian and Islamic architecture then cross the Galata Bridge for modern art, a baklava break, and an indulgent soak at a hammam. Later, relax on a popular rooftop restaurant and hear the call to prayer echo throughout the city. Just one perfect day in Istanbul will leave you craving more.
Alemdar Mh., Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34410 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
A city as ancient as Istanbul has many layers of history, and you’ll have to go below the surface to see the Basilica Cistern, the largest of the underground cisterns. Built in the sixth century for the Byzantine emperor Justinian, the...
Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Adorned with more than 20,000 blue handcrafted İznik tiles, stained-glass windows, and the golden brushstrokes of a 17th-century calligrapher, the Blue Mosque is the legacy of Sultan Ahmet I (1590–1617). The young sultan audaciously wished...
Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Walk into Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) and look up to the heavens to see why so many conquerors and their respective religions claimed this basilica turned mosque turned museum as their own. Visitors will swoon over the Byzantine gilded mosaics,...
Cankurtaran Mh., Akbıyık Cd. No:26, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
In the early 1990s, a Greek family refurbished a charming Ottoman home and opened Albura on the cobbled streets of Akbıyık Caddesi. The quality had locals and travelers flocking, making Albura one of the most popular restaurants in Sultanahmet. In...
Cankurtaran Mh., 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
If these walls could talk they’d recite plans for military campaigns and tales of love, lust and betrayal that make this former residence and imperial seat of the Ottoman Empire so intriguing. Walk the dazzling tile-and-mosaic-lined...
Beyazıt Mh., Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Soon after conquering Constantinople and defeating the Byzantines in 1453, Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II commissioned the beginnings of the Grand Bazaar to reinvigorate trade with the city. More than 550 years later, the bazaar is one of the oldest...
Asmalımescit Mahallesi, Meşrutiyet Caddesi No:99, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
A cultural hub for Turkish and international art, Istanbul Modern opened in 2004 as a permanent home for the contemporary Istanbul Biennial. The 8,000-square-foot warehouse sits along the Bosphorus next to the Golden Horn, a historically important...
Rıhtım Cad. Katlı Otopark Altı No: 3-4 Karaköy, Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
While in Turkey I enjoyed traditional desserts like baklava, but I learned to eat them in an nontraditional way when my friend Fatih took me to Karaköy Güllüoğlu, a famous baklava sweet shop in Karaköy. There you’ll find cases and cases of freshly...
Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Hamam Sk. No:1, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Enjoying a hammam experience while traveling in Istanbul was at the top of my list, but it was hard to choose where to soak! After all, the ritual of Turkish bathing wasn't one I was willing to just "leap" into; after stripping down to their bare...
Tomtom Mah. İstiklal Cad. No: 181 K: 5-6, Tomtom Mahallesi, Merkez Han, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Every day millions of people walk down Istanbul’s famous Istiklal Street unaware of the nearby terrace restaurants offering magnificent cuisine and divine views of the Bosphorus Strait—among them, Divan Brasserie Beyoğlu. Opened in...
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