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Must do in Istanbul with 24 Hours?

We have an almost 24 hour layover in Istanbul on our way to and from Italy. What suggestions do you have for getting the most out of the city in a short time?  What do we absolutely have to see/do??  Good places to eat? Shop? Definitely want to make the most of our time!

9 Answers

top answer by
Alex from London

Hi Danielle,

24hours is not a long time to explore a city of 14million inhabitants so I would suggest you focus on denser areas where you can pack a lot in.

Assuming this is your first time in the city, I suggest you head straight to Sulthanahmet to explore the Byzantine and Ottoman highlights: the Hagia Sophia (do enter and pop up to the upstairs gallery space for a grand view of the church);  the Blue Mosque, the Roman Hippodrome and the Basilica Cisterns. 

If you still have the energy after that, then I would recommend skipping the Topkapiu Palace and, instead, heading over to the Bazaar Quarter or over the Golden Horn to Galata and Taksim for a stroll.  If you are in the city at sunset, then a public ferry ride over the Bosphorus to the Asian side is the perfect ending to a busy day.

Do remember to allow plenty of time to travel back to the airport as Istanbul's traffic is notoriously bad and, depending on where you find yourself, you may have over an hour of transfer time to the departures hall.

I have two blog posts you might find inspiring:

Hope this helps!


4 thanks

answered by
Samia from Bangladesh

Most areas have been covered already- 

Just to let you know that there is to and from shuttle for both Istanbul's airports- Taksim square is where they drop you and where you can find those buses at. You can use trams/metros to go from Taksim Square

to the touristy areas. Galata Tower is nice, so is Dolmabahçe Palace which is not far from Taksim. 

The Gulhane Park near Topkapi palace is also a nice place with some small museums inside.


Here is an article I wrote:

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Taksim Square (attraction)
  2. Galata Tower (attraction)
  3. Dolmabahçe Palace (attraction)
  4. Gulhane Park (attraction)
2 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Jacqui from London

Go to a Turkish Bath! A truly eye-opening experience. 

There are a few listed here, along with a whole bunch of other things to do and see in Istanbul. One of my fav cities! 

Or see the Grand Bazaar or Spice Market


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Istanbul (city)
  2. Grand Bazaar (attraction)
  3. Spice Market (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Missy from Newport

Hi, head straight into Istanbul Old City, for a one night hotel room.  For luxury try the Four Seasons, and for moderate try Sultanhamet Palace Hotel, as both are right in the Old City and walking distance to Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Roman Cisterns.  Perhaps a little further away are the Grand Bazaar, where you should be sure to wend your way into the heart of the Grand Bazaar for the more traditional shops with artisan goods, and the Spice Bazaar.  For lunch, I like the restaurant Pandelli Restaurant in the Spice Bazaar above the fray on an upper floor. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Istanbul (city)
1 thanks

answered first by
Selin from Istanbul

You can see the most in Sultanahmet Square 

Basilica Cistern , Hagia SophiaTopkapi Palace... When the sun starts to goes down, its time to go to Galata TowerKonak Cafe would be good choise if you won't go up to tower. Then you can walk through the Istiklal Avenue. Its not much tiring for one day, that'll be the optimal.

Hope you have precious time in Istanbul, get ready to want to go there again:)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Sultanahmet Square (attraction)
  2. Basilica Cistern (attraction)
  3. Hagia Sophia (attraction)
  4. Topkapi Palace (attraction)
  5. Galata Tower (attraction)
  6. Konak Cafe (restaurant)
  7. Istiklal Avenue (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by

The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia are worth visiting. If you like shopping, then the spice market and the Grand Bazaar are wonderful. Be sure to bargain though. If you want a cultural experience, try to catch the Sufi dance show at Hodjapasha Dance Theater

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Blue Mosque (attraction)
  2. Hagia Sophia (attraction)
  3. Grand Bazaar (attraction)
  4. Hodjapasha Dance Theater (attraction)

answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

I would stay near the airport. Flights in and out are very expensive right now. They are bumping everyone from first class to get the diplomats out. You better check Interpol and FBI websites about travel there. My friend had a nervous time there this week. Kicked out of Business Class for diplomats. They are telling Americans to leave, it is not easy place now.

answered by
Yuksel from Kuşadası


You better stay in a hotel at Taksim area then visit istiklal street, taksim square at night. In day time take a taksi to istanbul old city (sultanahmet) visit; hagia sophia, blue mosque, topkapi palace, hippodrome, grand bazaar, egyptian market etc..

Have a good time in beautiful istanbul TURKEY

answered by
Chloe from London


I loved Istanbul. Have written a 24 Hours in Istanbul piece on my blog. You might also want to visit the Rainbow steps - beautiful story behind them! 




Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Istanbul (city)

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