How We Spent 5 Days In Istanbul

5 Days In Istanbul

Spending 5 days in Istanbul was a great amount of time for our first trip to Istanbul. There is so much to see and do in Istanbul, so if you can we would recommend staying for 3 days at the very least (but if you only have a day, take a look at how to spend it here).


Our Itinerary: 5 Days In Istanbul

Day 1

After flying for about 19 hours, and arriving around 8am, my excitement to explore was far outweighing the lack of sleep and temptation to forget about trying to adjust to Turkey time.

So we hit the ground running…well, walking. Started the day with a morning walk down Istiklal Street, a famous shopping/pedestrian street in Istanbul. It was busy (although it got much busier later in the day/night) and had an infectious atmosphere. It was here that we had our first “Turkish Ice Cream” experience… and I say “experience” for a reason (it’s not just about the ice cream)!

We continued down Istiklal street, eventually making our way to Galata Tower. The tower itself just makes you feel like you are in Istanbul, and when you go up it, you can take in 360 degree views of Istanbul. A pretty stunning way to get introduced to our new home for 5 days!

View from Galata tower

The rest of the day was spent just exploring the streets around this area, as we were staying near Taksim Square. Topped the day off with dinner in Istiklal Street; a share platter of mixed meats, kebab, lahmacun and other turkish treats. What a great first impression of Istanbul!

Things we did:

  • Taksim Square
  • Istiklal Street
  • The Turkish Ice Cream Expereince
  • Galata Tower
  • Dinner on Istiklal Street

Highlight of the day:

Exploring the streets of Istanbul

Day 2

Time to venture into the old city! We headed into Sultanahmet to start seeing the sights. First we went to the Blue Mosque. This was stunning, but I preferred it much more from the exterior than inside. Inside was still good, but fairly tightly packed with people and one large open space.

Blue Mosque Istabul

Next stop, Hagia Sophia. This was one of my favourite sights of the day, with an interesting history, lots of little alcoves to explore, and stunning interior (make sure you go upstairs). Across the road to the Basilica Cistern, an underground ancient cistern, that feels like a walk over a lake by candlelight. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

After some more tasty Turkish food for lunch, it was onto the Grand Bazaar. And they weren’t lying… it is grand! This place is massive, although a little repetitive. Definitely a sight worth seeing, but we preferred walking around the streets around the outside of the Grand Bazaar. Not only were they selling the same things for much cheaper, but there were many more locals wondering around and suprises around each corner.

Things we did:

  • Blue Mosque
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Basilica Cistern
  • Grand Bazaar and surrounding streets

Highlight:

Discovering Hagia Sophia and the streets around the Grand Bazaar

Day 3

Today we decided to check out the Asian Side of Istanbul! It’s fascinating that Istanbul spans two continents, so we had to check out the other side. We caught the ferry (10 -15mins) to Kadikoy. We spent half the day exploring the streets of Kadikoy, which had a much more local feel. We went to the Kadikoy daily market, brimming with fresh produce.

The rest of the day we spent back on the European side of Istanbul, exploring the streets around Beyoglu, including Cihangir. Cafes on street corners, cats roaming, locals and tourists passing, street art. So much to discover.

Street Art Istanbul

Things we did:

  • Ferry to Kadikoy
  • Explore Kadikoy
  • Kadikoy Daily Markets
  • Explore the streets of Beyoglu

Highlight:

Discovering another side to Istanbul on the Asian Side

Day 4

Started our day early, walking from Findikli, heading towards Tophane to find the Rainbow Stairs. We found them and loved them!

Rainbow Stairs Istanbul

We continued towards the Galata Area, then enjoyed Turksih Tea and Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice overlooking the Galata Bridge. Continued our walk over Galata Bridge and into the Spice Bazaar. From here, a taxi to the Chora Church, and a walk along the Old City Walls of Istanbul.

Things we did:

  • Walked from Finidkli to Eminonu
  • Rainbow Stairs
  • Galata for Breakfast
  • Walked over Galata Bridge
  • Spice Bazaar
  • Chora Church
  • Walked the Old City Walls

Highlight:

The walking, rainbow stairs, Galata Bridge, Spice Bazaar, Old City Walls… pretty much everything!

Day 5

A more relaxing day today, taking a full day cruise down the Bosphorus. The boat ride didn’t disappoint. There is so much to see going down the Bosphorus; Bridges, Fortresses, Turkish Flags, Mansions, Landscape. Then we stopped at Anadolu Kavagi, at the top of the Bosphorus, for lunch. This was a tiny little town, and was a real eye opener. After lunch, we walked up to the top of the hill to see what remains of Yoros Castle, and an amazing view from the top.

Yoros Castle Turkey

Finished our time in Istanbul with Dinner in the Old City.

Things we did:

  • Full Day Bosphorus Cruise
  • Dinner in the Old City

Highlight:

The full day Bosphorus Cruise was an experience not to be missed!


5 Days In Istanbul: Our Itinerary Review

So that’s how we spent 5 days in Istanbul! What did we love and what would we have changed about our itinerary? Let us go through the pro’s, con’s and highlights…

Pro’s of our Istanbul Itinerary

Time. Having 5 days was great, and now that I have done it, I wouldn’t have wanted any less time. You could definitely spend more time, but we will save that for a second trip.

Things we did. We had enough time to fit in many different sights, as well as make time just to explore the streets and see what we found!

Con’s of our Istanbul Itinerary

So much more to discover. Although 5 days in Istanbul was a good amount of time for our Turkey Itinerary, there is still so much more to do and discover in Istanbul.

Jetlag. It was our first stop after two long flights from Australia, and although I adjusted pretty well, I was that little bit more tired here than anywhere else.

Highlights

Highlights of our Istanbul Itinerary included:

  • Hagia Sophia
  • Exploring the streets
  • Full Day Bosphorus Cruise
  • Discovering Simit and Borek
  • The Beyoglu District
  • Istiklal Street

Have you been to Istanbul? What were your highlights? Thinking of going? Let us know any questions you might have below…

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