Istanbul has a special value for Turkish people. Having a population of 16 mio, it is the economical capital of Turkey. You’ll find different types of lifestyles here and because of that, there are contrasts like in no other city. And that’s exactly the city’s charm. Every district has its own values and atmosphere. So according to your point of view, it is a european Orient or an oriental Europe. That’s why Istanbul belongs to my top favourites in the category of cities as you also can spend 5-6 days.


Most interesting sightseeing spots in Istanbul

In my opinion, it’s better to get a hotel around Eminonu. From there, it is easier to travel to different places as you have the Tram, Bus, Marmaray, Boats and Ferries. But I assume your hotel is around Blue Mosque, so I use this as my starting point for the following itinerary:


Day 1

From the Tram-Station Sultanahmet/Blue Mosque, you can visit these places by foot:

    • Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya, free, Shorts und Hotpants not permitted)
    • Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet camii, free, Shorts und Hotpants not permitted)
    • Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi, free with MuzeCard)
    • Gulhane Park
    • Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi)


Day 2

You can either have a 15 minutes walk or use the Tram until Station Bayezid:

    • Grand Bazaar (closed on Sundays)
    • Spice-Bazaar (reachable with a long walk downwards from the Grand Bazaar)
    • Galata-Bridge (this is not the bridge between Europe and Asia)
    • Karakoy (in the side streets, there are lots of cafes, bars and restaurants with a European touch. You can get back by Tram from Karakoy to Sultanahmet)


Day 3

It’s difficult to get from The Blue Mosque to Istiklal Street in Taksim. The easiest way is to take the Tram to the terminal station Kabatas and from there to take the Füniküler to Taksim. It is the shopping streets with a lot of shops, cafes and bars in the side streets. In the morning hours it’s less crowded but usually it’s crowded even in the nights.

    • Istiklal-Street / Taksim
    • St. Antonius Church
    • Galata Mevlevihanesi (small museum abour art from the Ottoman Empire)
    • Galata-Tower
    • Mihrimah-Moschee in Uskudar (walt to Karakoy and take the ferry to Uskudar. The mosque is located directly at the Bosphorus and was built by the architect Mimar Sinan who also built the Suleymaniye Mosque)
    • Maiden Tower (15 mins walk along the coast)


Day 4

    • Dolmabahce Palace (15 mins walk from the Station Kabatas. I highly recommend this museum)
    • Ortakoy (45 mins walk from Dolmabahce Palace, you can also take the bus or a taxi)
      • Idyllic view on the mosque at the second Bosphorus-bridge
      • Artisanal streets
    • Bebek (from Bebek you can walk at the Bosphorus. Reachable by Taxi from Ortakoy)


Day 5

    • Princess Islands (Büyük Ada. From Eminonu, you can take a boat to the Islands. The ride takes about 60 mins. You can enjoy the island and the view from there. Usually, people go there to escape from the city)
    • Suleymaniye Mosque (most important mosque, built in seven years by the architect Mimar Sinan, the most famous architect of the Ottoman Empire. The style and the acoustics of the mosque is unique as there are no bearing walls. They are used for acoustic reasons. Sultan Suleyman had requested this mosque that has lots of stories to tell. I recommend you to read about its architectural design.


Day 6

    • Boat Tour Bosphorus (by Tram to terminal station Kabatas. Take the short route by Provider Dentur. The ride back is mostly windy so you should have a light jacket)
    • Emirgan-Park (reachable by Boat Tour mentioned above)
    • Besiktas (reachable by ferry)
    • Nisantasi (reachable by bus or Taxi. Modern shopping district)



There are lots of different quarters without an Eiffel Tower but still having a special atmosphere:

    • Eyup and Fatih (more religios quarters offering more culture. In Eyup you’ll find the platform Pierre Loti, a mosque and little streets with small shops. From Sirkeci, you’ll reach Eyup by bus or ferry. Fatih with the first built mosque in Istanbul is reachable by bus or Metro)
    • Balat (is a historic quarter of Armenians. Most famous sight is the Orthodox church which was newly restored. Reachable by bus from Eminonu or ferry from Karakoy)
    • Kadikoy (full of shops, cafes and bars)
    • Kuzguncuk (small quarter with a nice ambience with nice street cafes on the Asian side)
    • Panorama 1453 (Museum)
    • Radio Tower (the new tower in Camlica provides the best sight on the city. Reachable by taxi from Uskudar)
    • Miniaturk (Museum with miniatures of sights from Turkey and the world)
    • Whirling Derwis-Dance in Sirkeci
    • Rumeli Hisar (near second bridge, reachable via per Taxi. Fortress on the European side. You can have a nice walk at the Bosphorus there)

Hints and Recommendations

    • Dolmabahce Museum closes at 4pm und has closed on Monday and Thursdays. Muze-Card is not valid here.
    • Grand Bazaar has closed on Sundays
    • Depending on the number of museum visits, the purchase of a Muze-Card should be considered (see link below).
    • Shops have opened on Sundays, opening a bit later though.
    • Turkish people usually don’t have food when walking. Many restaurants have the food prepared already, so you usually don’t wait for food.
    • If possible, visit the Galata Tower around sunset. You’ll hear the prayer call from all the city. You should prepare yourself for long waiting times though.
    • Women are offered head scarfs when visiting mosques. Please consider getting your own one. You can’t visit the mosques in hotpants or shorts.
    • The best way to cross the Bosphorus is the undersea metro called Marmaray. Please validate the Istanbul-Card also at the destination.
    • For good weather, I highly recommend a ride by ferry. For me, this is the best atmosphere in Istanbul. You’ll miss something if you leave Istanbul without a ferry ride.
    • There are street dogs controlled by the administration, they are harmless. Usually, they don’t even bark.
    • On Sundays and TUrkish holidays, you should avoid the biggest touristic places. Sounds paradox but on Sundays you’l see tons of local tourists.
    • If you want to attend a prayer, I recommend the evening prayer. It is short and prayed loudly. You can sit in the back of the mosque and listen. A smaller mosque might be more convenient.
    • On Fridays, mosques close one hour before the Friday prayer. The streets are mostly free of men, so enjoy 🙂
    • Please ignore(!) beggars. Don’t give them money, just go on talking to your friend. Do not take roses, even if they say it’s for free.

What else to visit in Turkey

If you want to stay longer in Turkey, you should see cities like Bursa (first Capital of the Ottoman Empire / 1-2 days), Antalya/Bodrum (beach holidays), Konya (cultural Capital / 1 day) or regions like Cappadocia (rock formations / 2 days), Black Sea Coast (forests and tea plantation / 3 nights), Pamukkale (Antique Pool / 1 day). Around 3 hours from Istanbul. you can see nature and culture in Bolu (2 days) and area. Lots of culture and really good food will you find in the South East of Turkey (3-5 days).

My drone footage