The one day Istanbul tour guide will help you prepare the best route for your first or only day in the city and optimize the maximum duration. While we know that 24 hours is a short time to visit a city with so many experiences and places to visit in Istanbul in a one day tour, we believe that if you have an optimized itinerary, you can see the city for the first time despite little.
With a one day tour to Istanbul, you will enjoy the wonderful atmosphere created in the bazaars, see some of the most impressive mosques in the world, and watch a magnificent sunset in this city, which is difficult to label as it is a fusion of Eastern and Western cultures. Based on the four days we spent in the town where we wrote this one day Istanbul travel guide, we made this route to get to know Istanbul best in one day. Let’s start!
(Also, how about a 2 day Cappadocia tour from Istanbul?)
How to Get to the City Center from Istanbul Airport?
Istanbul has two international airports, New Istanbul Airport, 35 kilometers from the city, and Sabiha Gokcen Airport, 50 kilometers away. The best means of transportation to transfer from the two airports to the center or your hotel:
- Metro: The M11 metro line will be serviced at the New Airport, connecting to the center at the beginning of 2020.
- Bus: From the New Airport, lines 19 and 20 will take you to the center (Taksim and Blue Mosque) in approximately 80 minutes for 3 Euros. Havabus will take you from Sabiha Gökçen Airport to Taksim Square in 90 minutes for 2.5 Euros.
- Private Transportation: This is the most comfortable option as the driver will wait for you at the terminal with a sign with your name on it and take you directly to your hotel within an hour.
- Taxi: The yellow taxi fare from the New Airport to the center is 30 Euros, and from Sabiha Gokcen, it is 25 Euros.
Tips for a One Day Istanbul Tour
Following this list of recommendations for a one day tour to Istanbul can help you establish good first-time contact with the city:
- In order not to have a bad experience with taxis, it is recommended that you take the yellow official vehicle with the Taxi sign, tell the driver well where to go, and follow the route with mobile GPS, such as the maps application.
- Security in Istanbul is relatively high, similar to major European cities. But you must be careful with pickpockets in tourist areas and on the subway.
- Friday is the day of worship, and there are restrictions on accessing inside mosques.
- To use all public transport in the city, you must purchase the Istanbul reloadable card.
- Get the best travel insurance to solve medical mishaps at the city’s quality hospitals.
What to See in Istanbul in One Day?
The route of the places to see in a one day tour of Istanbul starts early in the morning with a visit to Topkapi Palace, the center of the former Ottoman Empire. To avoid waiting in line to enter this vast complex with Bosphorus views, we recommend arriving before 9 am and enjoying the palace’s interior with its many rooms, among which the Treasury stands out.
Leaving the palace, you can reach the Santa Sofia Basilica, one of the most amazing places in the world and one of the places to visit in Istanbul, on foot in a few minutes. Built-in 360 as a Byzantine Orthodox cathedral, it was also a Catholic cathedral during the Crusader era and a mosque from 1453 after the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire. Today, it is an impressive museum with its vast dome, considered an architectural landmark, and its interior filled with precious mosaics.
After the visit, you can continue to Istanbul in one day by descending to the Basilica Cistern, which was built to provide water to the Ottoman palaces in case of siege, and where you can wander among its 336 columns, 9 meters high.
In the afternoon, you can reach the Blue Mosque, one of the jewels and symbols you will visit on your day trip to Istanbul. To enter this mosque and other mosques in the city, you have to follow a series of rules such as barefoot, covering your shoulders if it is open, not wearing shorts, and protecting women’s hair with a headscarf. Built by Sultan Ahmed I between 1609 and 1616, this mosque draws attention with its six minarets and more than 20,000 handmade tiles.
In one day, Istanbul continues to reach the city’s second most famous and oldest covered bazaar; the Spice Bazaar is worth entering even to smell the typical sweets and the thousands of species sold at its stalls. This big bazaar is very close to the legendary Galata Bridge, which divides the European region in two, with a length of about 500 meters, at the bottom of which you can see many fishermen, cafes, and restaurants and enjoy the view of the mosque.
After crossing the bridge, you can reach Galata Tower, one of the oldest towers in the world and the best viewing point of Istanbul, by walking or by taking the Tunnel funicular.
What are the Top Attractions to Visit in Istanbul?
There are many places to visit in Istanbul. Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Eminonu, Dolmabahce Palace, Topkapi Palace, Bosphorus Bridge, and Galata Tower are just the first places that come to mind.
What Should We Do in Istanbul?
In Istanbul, you should especially see historical monuments. You can also have breakfast across the Bosphorus and taste unique Turkish cuisine. If you wish, we can help you with this.
What Can You Do in Istanbul in 1 day?
You cannot finish Istanbul in one day. However, you can visit palaces, mosques, and unique nature views in one day. You can also experience Turkish cuisine and walk the streets.