Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Istanbul: My Tentative 6 Day Itinerary

By Greenwich Photography via Creative Commons



In 51 days, we are headed to Istanbul for a week.  We’re both super stoked about this trip as we both have wanted to go to Istanbul for a while now, and it is our first foray into a non-Western country.  Istanbul is Western without really being Western like how Spain was in the early Middle Ages.  While my man has been reading up on Byzantine history, I’ve been glued to travel guides to get an idea for an itinerary for our 6 days in Istanbul.

We’ll be staying in the Sultanahmet area so many major sites are within easy walking distance of our hotel.  In fact, I think Hagia Sophia is 3 or 4 blocks away!  I have been OBSESSED with Hagia Sophia ever since I learned about it in 12th grade religion class (I went to a Catholic school, and we covered architecture and philosophy in junior and senior year. Geek alert).  It had the world’s largest dome until the Duomo in Florence was built about 1000 years later.  So many other must see sites are in this area, and we’re close to tram and ferry hubs to get to the other areas of the city.

By James Cridland via Creative Commons



This is my tentative plan for our trip. I’ve learned to get a list of what I want to see together but to be flexible about when to see or do certain things.  Works out much better to abandon the over-planner mentality before arrival.

Evening we arrive:
Maybe the Cagloglu Hamam to decompress from flying
Column of Constantine
Galata Bridge
Day 1:
Topkapi Palace
Museum of Archaeology
Hagia Sophia
Day 2:
Basilica Cistern
Chora Church
Hippodrome
Walls of Theodosius
Day 3:
Spice Market
Istanbul Modern
Cruise on the Bosporus
Stop at the famous yogurt shop on the Asian side
Day 4:
Termal side trip
Day 5:
Blue Mosque
New Mosque
Grand Bazaar
Istanbul Eats food tour
This of course doesn’t include any spots for dining or possible sites that call to us while rambling around town.  Who knows how it will turn out, but as long I see Hagia Sophia and have a kebap, I’ll be happy.  Do you have any off the beaten path sites to add?  Let me know in the comments.
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8 Responses to “Istanbul: My Tentative 6 Day Itinerary”

  1. 1

    Alyssa — August 3, 2011 @ 12:06 am

    Hooray for you guys! I loved Istanbul… had seven nights there in 09, and would go back in a heartbeat.

    At Topkapi, make sure you buy the extra ticket (once inside) for the separate harem section. I think a lot of people skip it, and it's beautiful.

    The archaeological museum is enormous, and full of amazing stuff (also, it was completely empty when we were there, though every other place was packed). To see everything without burnout, two separate visits would be best… it's close, since you're staying in Sultanahmet.

    The food… oh man. So, so good!

    Yep, I'm officially jealous. 🙂

  2. 2

    ehalvey — August 3, 2011 @ 1:52 am

    Thanks, Alyssa. I definitely want to check out the Harem in Topkapi and take LOADS of photos of the tiles. I think we might buy that ticket at the beginning to make sure we go.

    With museums, I've learned to take a bit of a cut throat approach to keep my husband from burning out. We pick out certain galleries and skip others that are less our cup of tea. I know it's awful to just write off chunks of a collection, but it works for us. If I was by myself, I would spend the whole day with lunch and tea breaks. 🙂

    Any food recs? I've seen a few mentioned in several places, but I'm tempted to replicate Anthony Bourdain's food tour.

  3. 3

    Ashley — August 3, 2011 @ 5:01 am

    Oooh, I can't wait to hear all about your trip! I've been wanting to visit for a long time. Take lots of pictures (particularly of food!).

  4. 4

    Jenna — August 3, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

    Wow, that is very exciting! Istanbul is high on my list. I have never been there but have heard only great things about it, and I also am obsessed with the Hagia Sophia! It's one of the buildings on my absolute must-visit list. I hope you have a wonderful time, and I look forward to your posts!!

  5. 5

    ehalvey — August 3, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    Thanks Ashley and Jenna! There will be LOTS of food and architecture photos from this trip, taken with both my point and shoot and my iPhone. So excited to share my trip with my readers 🙂

  6. 6

    Alyssa — August 5, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

    I think I just underestimated the sheer size of the museum, or I'd have done the same thing… though archaeological museums are my first love, so I don't know what I would have cut out!

    Food wise, most of what we had was street food or in small restaurants… pretty much everything was great. We did have a huge tasting menu (eight or ten courses?) for our anniversary, but for the life of me I can't find where it was. Though it was great to do the tasting menu, by then we had already worked our way through most of those dishes on other nights, at other places. Kinda defeated the purpose!

  7. 7

    ehalvey — August 5, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

    Good to know, both street food and the enormity of the museum. I can't wait!

  8. 8

    Ayngelina — August 9, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

    Istanbul has always been on my list, such a mix of two cultures I think it would be incredibly interesting.

    Here is to hoping 51 days go quickly!

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