Weekend in Istanbul, between the two parts of the world in 48 hours
Istanbul attracts millions of tourists from around the world because of its originality and diversity. Sounds, smells, colors of Istanbul – all this fascinates from the first minutes of your stay in the city.
You can even spend the entire vacation, enjoying fantastic views of the Bosphorus, choosing another one trinket at the Grand Bazaar, feeding gulls with simit and stroking cats, which are everywhere. But in order to really fall in love with Istanbul, we can not ignore its attractions, which are no less breathtaking than the famous Rome or Paris.
You are lucky if you have to spend at least a week in Istanbul, because you will see many historical beautiful sights that will impress you for years to come. But what if the tickets are bought only for the weekend in Istanbul and you want to “go further than the wall” and look at all of the places of interest, and also find some time for shopping?
Do not worry! While in your wish list you’ve got a million of plans, and in the guidebooks – even more, I’ll tell you where to start sightseeing in Istanbul.
The first day.
We are going to Sultanahmet
If you arrived to Ataturk Airport, you probably already met two main means of transport in Istanbul – metro and tram. Second one (I mean tram), we’ll use for the fast and convenient transportation, and will not stuck in traffic jams (which are regular thing for the Istanbul) for an hours. The beginning of all beginnings – a historic Sultanahmet district.
How to get there: T1 blue line tram Bağılar-Kabataş, stop Sultanahmet. Badge is 4 lira (≈1,5 $).
What to see:
– Sultanahmet Square and the park with fountains.
– The Blue Mosque – a symbol of Istanbul (entrance is free, for women necessary to have a handkerchief).
– Hippodrome, on a narrow segment which are the Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine Column, German Fountain and obelisk of Constantine.
– Unique Hagia Sophia, inside which is breathtaking on a combination of mosaics on the walls of the Orthodox and Islamic elements (entrance fee).
– Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici) – journey to the underworld accompanied by disturbing music and huge fishes. This reservoir with multiple columns and the famous head of Medusa the Gorgon. It located in a building near the Hagia Sophia. Entrance fee.
Tip: Look into Semazen Restaurant, which is located in a house near the stop Sultanahmet. Ask for a table on the
balcony of the third floor – there excellent views of the Sultanahmet Square. Book meat with yogurt İskender kebap and lentil soup Mercimek çorbası (≈ lunch will cost 25 lira). Feel the taste of Istanbul!
Palaces and Parks
What to see:
– Topkapi Palace
Behind the Hagia Sophia, go to the fountain of Ahmed III and one of the Sultan’s Topkapi Palace gate, where lived the famous Roksolana. On inspection of the palace complex take at least 2 hours.
– Gulhane Park
Leaving behind Sultanahmet, we are moving by the tram lines toward the next stop Gulhane, which is located next to the park of the same name. This is one of the most beautiful places for walking, especially in spring, when the Istanbul festival tulips. Previously the park was a part of the palace of the sultan, and only harem residents could admire it. Walking through it, look at the sky – you will see a lot of storks that build their nests in the branches of the old plane trees.
Tip: Purchase Card Museum Pass Istanbul (cost 85 lira, ≈ $ 35), which will go free, and most importantly, the queue in the Aya Sophia, Topkapi Palace and more. The card is valid 3 days, but does not give the right to free public transportation. It saves your time!
The first day coming to an end – it’s time to relax and enjoy the night life of Istanbul. Get to places of public celebrations possible, before reaching the final stop tram Kabataş already known. Then transplanted to the cable car and you go one stop to Taksim.
How to get there: T1 blue line tram Bağılar-Kabataş, stop Eminönü.
What to see:
– Egyptian spice market and new mosque – located in the Eminönü area near the bridge.
– Galata Bridge – always try Balik ekmek with ayran in a cafe on the bridge and enjoy the beautiful views of the historic center of Istanbul.
– Galata Tower – one of the symbols of Istanbul, situated on a hill on the other side of the Golden Horn Bay. The ascent to the tower for an extra charge.
– Walk along the Bosphorus – “must do” in any weather. You will see unique architectural structure, located at the waters of the Bosphorus themselves – Dolmabahce Palace, Maiden Tower, Ortaköy Mosque and many others.
Tip: load the application on your phone Ulmon Istanbul, which will allow to use the city map without the need of network connection. You will never get lost!
Cities like people – you are wildly miss some of them. I hope Istanbul will become a such city for you!