As Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “if the world were one country, then Istanbul would be its capital.” Istanbul is a city that dates back to the BC ages and has stood the test of time (while rotating owners). Its vibrancy and energy is infectious and it is an absolute must see city in your lifetime. For more tips on what to know before you go, visit our article here. Enjoy this Weekend Wanderlust on what to do in Istanbul and don’t be surprised if you want to extend your stay!
First things first – check into your divine hotel in the center of the city, The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet.
10 AM: Work out the airplane kinks and head to a Cagaloglu Hamam in the Old City, noted as one of the 10,000 places to see before you die. Order a traditional massage where the therapists wash you and massage you on a marble slab that’s hundreds of years old. Leave your modesty at the door – this is usually done in little to no clothing.
12:00 PM: Time to perk up! Grab a Turkish coffee from a café and leave that jet lag in the dust.
1:00 PM: Walk over to the Grand Bazaar and have your hand at a haggle. There are tons of designer imposters so make sure not to pay full price. Also, if you buy mosaic dishes, make sure that they are not made with any lead. That’s something you don’t want to eat off of. As you walk, snack on backlava and Turkish delights!
5:00 PM: Stop for a traditional Turkish tea and sweet snacks at a local café.
10:00 PM: Dine at the Arcadia Blue fine dining restaurant on top of the roof of the Arcadia Blue hotel. Take in sweeping views of the Bosporus, as well as the Asian side of Istanbul.
9:00 AM: Rise and shine! Head to the Topkapi Palace first thing in the morning to beat the crowds. This was the major residence of Sultans in the Ottoman empire.
12:00 PM: Stop for lunch at a traditional Turkish restaurant for a meal of beyti lamb kebabs. Amazing.
2:00 PM: Go to the Hagia Sophia, which used to be a Christian church, turned into a mosque, and is now a stunning museum. It’s a must see in Istanbul.
3:30 PM: Walk over to the Blue Mosque before its last call to prayer. The crowds and the heat won’t be as bad.
10:30 pm: Head over to reigning queen of nightlife, Reina on the Bosporus. Dine here first before the international crowd descends on the dance floor. You won’t have to wait in line and you get to dine at one of Reina’s six (yes, six!) restaurants. The best time to dine is 10:30 pm and then you can enjoy the club after midnight.
12 PM: After a Turkish coffee, head over to the Spice Bazaar. There, you can find fresh spices from Istanbul as well as jewelry, coffee, tea, and soaps. Remember, always haggle!!
3 PM: Take a cruise of the Bosporus Sea. Head over to the marina in front of the New Mosque or the Kuruçesme Marina and hire a private boat for a Bosporus cruise. Bring a bottle of wine to enjoy on the Bosporus. If you have time, stay on the boat for a full meal. You can even go to the Black Sea!
We hope this helped you identify what to do in Istanbul. What are your favorite spots in Istanbul? Comment below!
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