All in a Day: Visiting Istanbul

Sure, it straddles two continents, but you can still get a taste of the city on a short trip that hits some of our favorite Turkish delights.

Inside the Grand Bazaar

Photo: eStock

Half-day Tour While Visiting Istanbul

Clocking in under five hours, this guided tour covers some of Istanbul’s most important sights—the Hippodrome, the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia, and the 17th-century Blue Mosque with its 20,000 mosaic tiles. No old city jaunt would be complete without a spin around the Grand Bazaar, a 15th-century market with 3,000 stalls. Hit Cashmere House for shawls and scarves in every color of the rainbow.


About a 15-minute walk from the Grand Bazaar, this authentic Turkish eatery is a must-try when visiting Istanbul. Taste any of the more than 30 varieties of kebab and delicious mezzes at this 30-year-old chain favored by locals, which boasts sprawling views of the Bosporus, the strait that separates Europe from Asia.

Nakkas Rug

Visitors to Cengiz Kara’s traditional Turkish rug shop, also in the old city, are in for much more than just textiles. There’s an ancient cistern open for viewing underneath the shop, and in the lobby is a weaver who demonstrates her handiwork. Just around the corner is an antique store that has a fantastic selection of one-of-a-kind costume jewelry.

Istanbul Modern

Istanbul’s contemporary art museum is a unique homage to the Parisian-influenced Turkish painting scene of the early 20th century. And at just two stories, it can be easily appreciated in an hour or so while visiting Istanbul.

Bosporus by Boat Tour

For a relaxing view of the cityscape, few things are as magical as cruising down the Bosporus and seeing the architectural glory of Istanbul’s European and Asian sides at once. Begin your tour at the Egyptian Bazaar (more commonly called the Spice Bazaar), where you can get spices, yes, but also endless varieties of Turkish delights and some very high-quality and fairly priced Turkish leather goods. Once aboard the boat, cruise past the smaller summer palaces and grand Ottoman palaces that dot the banks.

Imagine yourself sightseeing in Istanbul with this colorful photo gallery.
Originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of AAA Traveler.

After a few days in Istanbul, set sail from this port city on a Mediterranean cruise. Call 877-396-7159 or contact a AAA Travel Counselor for details.

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David Kallas, AAA Travel Counselor, Murray, Utah

I'm all about once-in-a-lifetime trips to destinations such as the Cook Islands, Australia or an African safari. I love to plan trips that my clients return from not regretting anything.

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