How to Explore Istanbul in One Weekend

Istanbul, Turkey

Cherishing cultural assets of both Asian & European sides, Turkey perfectly showcases the charm, beauty, and specialties of both continents.

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A trip to Turkey cannot be aced without leaving the footsteps on the streets and alleyways of Istanbul. The oriental stamp left by the Ottoman Empire on the area is reflected in the buildings of Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Top Kapi Palace.

The endless stretch of the Mosques decorated with impressive geometric patterns and signature color palettes call for a MUST visit.

Turkish tea served in Tulip cups, Baklava, and sweet Turkish delights are also an irresistible affair. Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Istiklal Street, and the list goes on; there is so much to explore in Istanbul that one feels overwhelmed yet surprised.

Remember that many foreign visitors need a visa to travel to Turkey. Thus, it’s crucial to check if your country requires one.

If so, the best option to handle one is by applying online for a Turkish e-Visa. Submit your application at least 3 days before the planned trip on and get the approved document delivered to your email box!

Now that you’re prepared and know how to submit a visa application online, it’s time to start preparing. The electronic visa to Turkey gets processed within a maximum of 72 hours, making the perfect time to craft your itinerary!

You can follow this perfectly tailored weekend trip guide to Istanbul, not to miss any of the hotshots of the town. Roll your sleeves, buckle your shoes, tuck in your map, and let’s roll in!

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey by polatdover / pixabay


Start the Day at Van Kahvalti Evi

Enjoy Turkish breakfast at Van Breakfast House ‘Van Kahvalti Evi’, which hosts an extensive breakfast menu tossed up with cheese (string cheese, aged cheese, village kashar, herb cheese) and sausages.

Olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, and fried dough are the go-to ingredients of the Turkish breakfast. Do not miss out on Sucuk (spicy meat) to enjoy the authentic flavors of Turkish cuisine.

Turkish breakfast

Turkish breakfast by bpolat / pixabay

Pay Homage to Hagia Sophia

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hagia Sophia is a 1500 years old building that has served as a Church, a Mosque, then as a Museum between 1934 and 2020, and now it is again has been converted into the Mosque.

It is a contesting place between Muslims and Christians due to their religious sentiments attached to it. Hagia Sophia carries the stamp of both Byzantine and Ottoman Empire in its architecture, calligraphic designs, minarets, and alters. Sultan Tomb, Fountains, Treasury building, Almshouse, and Timing rooms are some of the highlights of Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkish

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkish by Dennis Jarvis / Flickr

Head towards the TopKapi Palace

Located at an arm’s length from Hagia Sophia, TopKapi is the best place to get soaked in history, views, and marvelous architecture.

It served as a court and residence during the Ottoman period. Today, 4 courts, Harems (women quarters), Kitchens, and the Imperial Treasury can be visited inside the Palace. Spoonmaker’s Diamond (86 Carat Pear-shaped diamond) and Topkapi Dagger are showcased in the Imperial treasury.

TopKapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkish

TopKapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkish by falco / Pixabay

Dinner at Cruise

Bosphorus Dinner Cruise is a fantastic place to sit back, relax, and enjoy the Sufi dance performance, Sultan Show, Belly dance, and enchanting live music. Lunch, dinner, and sunset cruises are available to sign up for.

The feel of the air is charged and unmatchable when sailing across the Bosphorus Bridge.

Bosphorus Dinner Cruise, Istanbul, Turkish

Bosphorus Dinner Cruise, Istanbul, Turkish by Ninara / Flickr


Stop by at the Breakfast Street

Hit upon breakfast streets in Besiktas District of Istanbul, where you feel more like Turkish people in a friendly, cozy, and delightful setting.

Apart from the traditional Turkish breakfast, do not miss out on the Pisi-A donut oozing with cheese or chocolate, which will leave you craving for more and more.

Breakfast, Istanbul, Turkish

Breakfast, Istanbul, Turkish by TravelingOtter / Flickr

Discover Blue Mosque

Sultan Ahmed Mosque is popularly known as the ‘Blue Mosque due to the extensive tile work in the architecture that is all dipped in enchanting hues of blue.

The Mosque can hold more than 10,000 people at a time. Sultan Ahmed Tomb, German Fountain, the expansive courtyards, six minarets, and the endless series of chandeliers give the Mosque a mesmerizing vibe.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkish

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkish by marcelehannaan / Pixabay

Climb Galata Tower

This sky-rocketing tower is visible from even far-off corners of Istanbul. The tower not only offers panoramic yet magnanimous views of the city from its balconies but also hosts the most delicious lunch menu featuring Turkish cuisine.

The nightclub is in full swing by the evening hours, presenting the impressive performances of belly dancers and folk dances.

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkish

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkish by xxoktayxx / Pixabay

Hop to the Grand Bazaar

How can we miss shopping in local bazaars when in Istanbul? Grand Bazar dipped in vibrant colors is all set to beguile you with a stunning collection of Turkish artifacts, rugs, carpets, and spices.

4500 shops sprinkled in 61 streets with an entrance from 61 gates speak for the huge size of Grand Bazaar.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkish

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkish by Antti T. Nissinen / Flickr

Final thoughts

With all its cultural attractions, Istanbul gives a million reasons to be on your travel bucket list. Follow our guide, plan your itinerary, and make some of the endearing memories of Turkey in Istanbul!

Julius Szabo

Since 2010 I have created a lot of travel-inspiring websites, have written countless travel articles and made a hundred thousand pictures and videos. is the newest one, my other way to conquer the world! :)

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