Find out how to spend an ideal weekend in İstanbul – Lonely Planet

Video Find out how to spend an ideal weekend in İstanbul – Lonely Planet

A metropolis that has enticed guests for hundreds of years can hardly be performed justice in a single weekend. However this sampling of İstanbul’s highlights provides you with an excellent style of its many points of interest – whereas leaving you keen to return again for extra. This is Lonely Planet’s information to an ideal weekend in İstanbul.

Day one

Aya Sofya stands proud close to the Bosphorus © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet


Begin your day in Sultanahmet’s Aya Sofya Meydanı (Aya Sofya Sq), which is flanked by two of İstanbul’s high sights: the Byzantine-era church (now a museum) Aya Sofya, with its famously towering dome, and the tile-bedecked Blue Mosque. The quick space alone has sufficient different museums and historic sights to maintain you busy for every week. Decide one or two that almost all pique your curiosity: maybe the İstanbul Archaeology Museums, with imposing, intricately carved sarcophagi; the Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts, with its spectacular vintage carpet assortment; or the atmospheric underground Basilica Cistern. Spherical off your morning with a stroll via the Hippodrome, the place chariot races had been held in historic occasions.


For lunch, be part of native staff at a humble lokanta (eatery serving home-style, ready-made meals) – Sefa Restaurant is well-liked. Or seize a pide (a Turkish flatbread with varied topping choices) at Karadeniz Aile Pide ve Kebap Salonu. After your meal, step away from probably the most crowded a part of the vacationer path to take this self-guided strolling tour down into the Küçük Ayasofya neighbourhood. Afterwards, store for souvenirs – ceramics, hamam towels, jewelry – within the historic Arasta Bazaar.

Alternately, do your purchasing within the Grand Bazaar (enable time to get misplaced, as a result of you’ll). Then seize a taxi out to Edirnekapı, the place the Kariye Museum (Chora Church), stuffed with gorgeous frescoes and mosaics, sits close to Istanbul’s previous metropolis partitions, which date again to the 4th century.


Subsequent to the Chora Church, the restaurant Asitane, which specialises in recreating meals from the Ottoman palace kitchens, makes a singular selection for dinner. Or head again to Sultanahmet for fish at Balıkçı Sabahattin or kebaps at Hamdi Restaurant overlooking the Golden Horn by the Eminönü ferry docks.

After dinner, for those who’re feeling adventurous, cross the Galata Bridge to Karaköy and board a ferry for the brief experience to Kadıköy, an brisk, youthful neighbourhood on the Asian aspect of town, the place the nightlife round Kadife Sokak (higher often known as Barlar Sokak, or “Bars Road”) stays hopping till the wee hours.

For a extra mellow approach to spherical out the night, head to the A’YA Rooftop Lounge on the ritzy 4 Seasons Resort (summer time solely). In winter a therapy at one of many Previous Metropolis’s Ottoman-era hamams (the Çemberlitaş and Gedikpaşa baths keep open till midnight) is a heat and stress-free various.

Finest day journeys from Istanbul

Day two

Harem part of the Topkapı Palace © MehmetO / Shutterstock


The seat of Ottoman energy for 4 hundred years, Topkapı Palace stays an awe-inspiring glimpse into the lives of the sultans who reigned there (and people of their huge entourages). You will want a half-day to discover the in depth buildings and grounds: to wander via the maze of lavishly adorned rooms within the palace Harem, marvel on the treasured objects within the Treasury, admire the palace kitchens, stroll via the pavilion-filled grounds and take within the sweeping views from the Fourth Courtroom, the sultan’s internal sanctum.


Seize a simit (sesame-seed-covered bread ring) from a road vendor to munch on as you make your method over to the Beyoğlu district by foot or through the tram and the historic Tünel funicular. Select from the tempting array of dishes at Hayvore, a Black Sea-style lokanta, or linger over a light-weight meal at Kafe Ara, a close-by cafe adorned with the works of its namesake, the well-known Armenian-Turkish photographer Ara Güler.

The winding streets and hidden alleyways of Beyoğlu are excellent for leisurely wandering and spontaneous discoveries. Discover the galleries, cafes, historic buildings and boutiques of the Galata, Tophane, Karaköy and Çukurcuma neighbourhoods and take into account a go to to the always-interesting Pera Museum or the quirky Museum of Innocence – created by Nobel Prize-winning Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk.

A pre-dinner drink at Mikla’s rooftop bar © Mark Learn / Lonely Planet


Beyoğlu is without doubt one of the metropolis’s consuming and consuming hotspots, so decisions abound. Get pleasure from a pre-dinner drink with a view at one of many many rooftop bars – the panorama from Mikla is unbeatable for those who’re after one thing a bit stylish, whereas the terrace bar on the nostalgic Grand Resort de Londres is as laid-back because it will get. Then settle in for scrumptious meyhane-style meals at Greek-inflected Eleos (the octopus is divine) or trendy Turkish delicacies in a fine-dining setting at Neolokal, helmed by an acclaimed younger chef.

On this 24/7 metropolis, the evening doesn’t finish with dinner – it’s simply getting began. Hit the hipster bars and golf equipment in Karaköy, the energetic beer pubs on the aspect streets off İstiklal Caddesi, or the cafe-bar scene on the principle drag in Cihangir. Want a sugar rush to gas your dancing ft? You’ll be removed from the one individual getting your late-night baklava repair at Karaköy Güllüoğlu.

Profit from your journey with sightseeing excursions and actions from our trusted companions.

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