Explore the Crossroads of Civilization on This Six-Day Itinerary

A cosmopolitan gem nestled at the crossroads of civilizations, İstanbul invites curious travelers to unravel its secrets, from the grandeur of Topkapı Palace to the bohemian streets of Balat.

A peaked tower in Istanbul, Türkiye



İstanbul, the bustling metropolis of Türkiye, stands as a testament to the nation’s rich past and bright future. Located at the nexus of Europe and Asia, this vibrant and vast urban center begs exploration. Packed with historic landmarks, maze-like marketplaces, quintessential cuisine, thrilling nightlife, and fascinating culture, this six-day itinerary in İstanbul, Türkiye, is designed to immerse you in the city’s best swiftly—but be prepared to discover just as many reasons to return.

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Trip Highlight


A delightful fusion of rich traditions, diverse flavors, and innovative creations, İstanbul’s food scene reflects its position straddling two continents. The city's culinary landscape draws inspiration from Ottoman, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Balkan cuisines, resulting in a harmonious blend of tastes that caters to a wide range of palates. Michelin-starred restaurants in İstanbul represent the epitome of culinary excellence, offering discerning diners an extraordinary gastronomic journey.
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Go Türkiye

Discover the endless wonders of Türkiye with Go Türkiye as your guide. Whether you’re looking for sustainable travel, cultural and historical trips, outdoor and nature expeditions, culinary journeys, or more, Go Türkiye will help you every step of the way.
An view from a high angle of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Türkiye



Day 1:Welcome to İstanbul

Begin your journey by immersing yourself in İstanbul’s rich heritage. The city’s historical peninsula is home to many of its most famous sites and monuments, including Topkapı Palace. The main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years, this gem stands proudly in the heart of İstanbul, offering incredible views of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn, and the Sea of Marmara. Once you’ve walked in the footsteps of sultans, visit the nearby Basilica Cistern, an ancient underground water reservoir built during the reign of Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Justinian I during the 6th century.

Before marveling at the artistry and history of the world-famous Hagia Sophia nearby, pay a short visit to the Hagia Sophia History and Experience Museum. Finish the day at the stunning Blue Mosque to admire its 21,000 handmade tiles. As night falls, enjoy an authentic and relaxing Turkish bath at Hürrem Sultan Bath, and then taste the flavors of contemporary Turkish cuisine at Topaz, one of İstanbul’s most exclusive restaurants.

Your home for the next six days will be Çırağan Palace Kempinski, a five-star hotel and a former Ottoman imperial palace that dates to the 17th century. The luxurious rooms are suited for royalty, overlooking the Bosphorus and Yıldız Park.
Two men looking at a teapot while shopping in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul



Day 2:Shopping for Treasures in İstanbul

Today is an unforgettable shopping odyssey that captures the essence of İstanbul. Begin by exploring the Grand Bazaar, which boasts almost 4,000 shops, as well as the aromatic Spice Market. As you traverse the bustling aisles, revel in the rich tapestry of Turkish culture and diverse souvenirs, from intricate carpets to handcrafted ceramics. Pause to enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee, savoring its robust flavors. For lunch, stop by Pandeli Restaurant, a Michelin-recommended gem conveniently nestled within the Spice Bazaar, for Turkish classics like Pandeli’s eggplant pie, topped with a leaf of Döner kebab, and rice-stuffed vine leaves (yaprak sarma).

Venture to Galataport for a luxurious shopping spree at the waterfront district’s high-end boutiques. There, you’ll discover a curated selection of Turkish and international brands, such as Beymen, Vakkorama, and Post Office Fashion Galleria, set along magnificent vistas of the Bosphorus.

In the evening, soak up Taksim’s lively atmosphere as you take a leisurely walk along İstiklal Street for dinner at Michelin-starred Neolokal. Inspired by Türkiye’s culinary heritage, chef Maksut Aşkar gives a modern twist to traditional Ottoman recipes and uses carefully selected local produce and wines. The set tasting menus may feature daily specials like lamb with fennel served with smoked freekeh grains or dumplings with minced beef, bulgur, and pine nuts.
A row of colorful blue, orange, yellow, red and green houses in Balat, Istanbul



Day 3:A Fresh Twist on an Ancient City

Begin your day at the historical Theodosian Walls (the Walls of İstanbul). These ancient fortifications, erected during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II in the 5th century, once served as a defensive barrier that protected old İstanbul from external threats. As you trace the remnants of this historical marvel, envision the city’s ancient past and the strategic significance of these mighty walls.

In the afternoon, make your way into the vibrant Balat neighborhood, an eclectic district brimming with character. Wander through its narrow streets adorned with colorful houses, each telling a story of centuries past. Dive into the local culture by exploring hip, artisan cafés serving freshly brewed coffee and tea, and indulging in delightful traditional sweets at Merkez Şekercisi, which has been serving Turkish delight and rose-flavored gum drops since 1879. Those seeking distinctive treasures can engage in the thrill of antique shopping by participating in a local auction at shops like Mekan Antik, where gems from the city’s rich history may be uncovered.

Before the sun sets, head to Saint Stephen’s Orthodox Church, also known as the Bulgarian Iron Church, since it was made entirely of prefabricated cast iron. This historic site, dating to the 19th century, is a testament to the cultural diversity that has shaped İstanbul over the years. Go on a picturesque sunset stroll along the Golden Horn before arriving at Mürver for dinner. Here, local ingredients like smoked beef rib, fresh fish, and obruk cheese are cooked over a searing open flame for maximum flavor.
A woman viewing “The Tortoise Trainer” painting in the Pera Museum, Turkiye



Day 4:An Exploration of Art and Archaeology

Art enthusiasts will find plenty to see and do while in İstanbul. Begin your journey at the İstanbul Archaeology Museum, an expansive museum complex that includes the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and the Museum of Islamic Art. Discover fascinating artifacts and historical treasures that span across civilizations, offering a glimpse into the city’s diverse heritage. After lunch at Karaköy Lokantası, an airy restaurant that specializes in hünkar beğendi (sultan’s delight), an Ottoman-era delicacy featuring chargrilled eggplant topped with slow-cooked lamb, transition to the contemporary art scene with a visit to the İstanbul Museum of Modern Art. Türkiye’s first contemporary art gallery, the museum focuses on Turkish artists.

At sunset, climb the stairs of the iconic Galata Tower to take in far-reaching views of İstanbul’s skyline, the Bosphorus, and beyond. The sunset from this vantage point is an awe-inspiring spectacle, casting the city in a warm, golden glow. Continue your cultural immersion in the heart of Taksim with an opera or dance show at the Atatürk Cultural Center. This recently reconstructed landmark venue has been a focal point for the performing arts since the 1960s, contributing to İstanbul’s thriving cultural scene. For dinner, savor a taste of Anatolia at Mikla where you can choose from an ever-evolving menu of Anatolian-inspired cuisine like mantı (Turkish meat dumplings) with smoked buffalo yogurt and grilled sea bass with apple vinaigrette.
Istanbul_Bosphorus Ferry_Go Turkiye


Day 5:Sailing from Europe to Asia

Today, you’ll navigate the Bosphorus and experience İstanbul’s European and Asian sides. Start in quaint yet lively Ortaköy, a charming neighborhood that boasts a picturesque waterfront and an array of artisanal shops. Sample treats from the street vendors dotting the bustling square—kumpir, made with baked potatoes and various toppings, is a local favorite. If you have a sweet tooth, go for some traditional Turkish ice cream. Before you leave, pop into Ortakoy Mecidiye Mosque, a neo-baroque mosque with an ornate interior covered in pink mosaics.

Embark on a scenic ferry ride from Ortaköy, treating yourself to postcard-worthy views of İstanbul’s skyline and landmarks along the Bosphorus. Arrive on the city’s Asian side and explore the historical district of Üsküdar, home to the intriguing Maiden’s Tower (Kız Kulesi). Meander through the vibrant streets of Kadıköy Moda, known for its bohemian allure, quirky boutiques, and inviting cafés in historic houses. Browse for vintage books in Akmar Passage, stop for a bite at Kadıköy Market, and shop for handcrafts on Bahariye Street.

Have dinner at Cibalikapı Balıkçısı Moda, a seafood restaurant known for some of the best meze in İstanbul, before diving into Kadıköy’s famous nightlife. Go for a pub crawl through the animated—and aptly named—Bar street, discovering the various bars, clubs, and live music venues that contribute to the neighborhood’s reputation as an entertainment hub.



Day 6:A Day in Paradise

Cap off your time in İstanbul with a tranquil day trip to the Princes’ Islands. This scenic archipelago, made up of nine small islands in the Sea of Marmara, is a peaceful escape from the bustle of the city—cars are not allowed on the islands. You only have to hop on a ferry to get there. Begin on Büyükada, the largest and most popular of the Princes’ Islands, which is renowned for its scenic landscapes and elegant Victorian architecture. Rent a bike from the town square and set off to explore charming streets lined with wooden mansions and pine trees. Along the way, stop at one of the island’s sandy beaches for a refreshing swim. Savor a delightful seafood dinner of calamari and grilled fish at Milto, one of the island’s waterfront restaurants.

If you’re able to extend your trip, consider hopping over to Heybeliada, a smaller yet equally enchanting island known for its vibrant marina and historical landmarks—including the Heybeliada Seminary and the Sanatorium (or Kınalıada). The smallest of the trio, Kınalıada is celebrated for its reddish hue and therapeutic mud baths. Uncover the island’s unique charm as you wander through its quaint streets, discovering hidden treasures and enjoying panoramic views of the Marmara Sea.
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