By Georgia Swift

So you’re having friends to visit you in Istanbul for the weekend and you’re stuck for things to do? Or maybe you’re scouting out the area before you move and want to see the sights?

This is the blog for you!

Join me to find out the best way to spend a couple of days in Istanbul, along with some top tips for enjoying this beautiful city :)

Day One

Archaeological Museums

Start your day off by grabbing a Museum Pass at the Archaeological Museums. Then you’ll get access to all the big museums of Istanbul.

Explore the tombs and trace Istanbul’s history as far back as mankind can. You’ll also find pre–Ottoman artefacts and sarcophagi, including that of Alexander the Great, from the 4th Century BC.

Topkapi Palace and Harem Apartments

After that, head to the Topkapi Palace. It’s included in your Museum Pass. Luckily for you, it’s super close to the Archaeological Museums – they’re on the grounds of the Topkapi Palace.

Topkapi Palace used to be where the Ottoman sultans lived. They made the women live in the harem. There, they had education on how to be good wives and look good in public.

Get an audio pass and explore the Palace, gardens and grounds. You’ll find the Spoonmaker’s Diamond here. At 86 carats, it’s the most valuable exhibit in the Palace.

Hagia Sophia

Under a five–minute walk away is the world-famous Hagia Sophia. If you got a Museum Pass, your entry will be free. More money to spend in the gift shop!

Built in the 6th Century, it was once a Greek Orthodox basilica dedicated to the Wisdom of God. When the Ottomans conquered, they turned it into a mosque. Now, it’s a museum.

Get yourself an audio guide and spend a few hours marvelling at the most important Byzantine structure in the world. You can use the audio guide to learn about the relics and artifacts preserved in the museum.

Golden Horn

Finish off your day by taking an evening cruise up the Golden Horn. You’ll find Beyoglu on one side and Sultanahmet on the other. There are stunning panoramic views of the whole city and you can watch the sunset from the comfort of your ferry.

Day Two

Blue Mosque

What better way to spend your second day in Istanbul than to visit the iconic Sultan Ahmed Mosque? It’s known as the Blue Mosque as there are hand–painted blue tiles on the inside walls. It’s also free to visit, but make sure you avoid those who offer to get you inside without queuing (it’s a scam).

You’ll find traditional Islamic architecture, and if you’re Muslim you can pray inside, too. However, non–worshippers will have to wait outside during the five daily prayers.

Remember to cover your head, legs, and arms, and don’t wear jeans. You’ll also be asked to take your shoes off, but you can leave them in a plastic bag at the entrance.

Grand Bazaar

When you’ve had a look around the Blue Mosque, take a 15–minute stroll over to the Grand Bazaar. It’s one of the largest and oldest indoor markets in the world, and is known as the world’s first shopping mall.

The Grand Bazaar features well over 4,000 shops and is made up of 61 streets, and it’s so popular that it attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors every day!

You’ll be expected to barter here, so let us give you a few tips.

  • Don’t be the first to name a price. Once you do, the seller won’t go under it.
  • Have a look around before buying from one shop. They often sell similar things in other stores, sometimes at a much lower price.
  • Salespeople have to meet a quota and then work on commission. Earlier in the day, they’re more interested in meeting their quota. This means they’ll often sell things for a lower price in the mornings.

Taksim Square

After you’ve seen all there is to see, hop on the Metro and visit Taksim Square. It's often called the Heart of Istanbul, and it's also the place for protests and Gay Pride. Spend some time at one of the restaurants or cafes, people-watch, and try some authentic Turkish food.

But most importantly, make sure you Have fun!

Have you been to Istanbul? What are your top tips? Let us know in the comments!

Need more inspiration to get your Istanbul on? Look no further:

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