Whether you’re stopping for a layover or only want a short vacation, Istanbul has a lot to offer for any day trip! Straddling Europe and Asia, this Turkish city offers the best of both European and Asian history, culture, and architecture. Istanbul is one of the most unique cities in the world! Here’s what you can’t skip if you only have 24 hours in Istanbul!
Start your morning with a traditional cup of Turkish coffee. For those of you that don’t know, Turkish coffee is made with finely ground coffee beans (no filter necessary). The powdered beans and sugar are brought to a boil in the cezve (aka a Turkish coffee pot). The mixture froths as it boils making for a deliciously smooth cup of coffee. Usually, the coffee is served with a sweet treat and in a small porcelain cup.
Coffee readings are very common in Turkey and many cafes will have fortune-tellers working. Try making a reservation at Melekler Kahvesi in Taksim Square.
CAUTION: Turkish coffee is STRONG. Stick to one cup so you don’t have the jitters for the rest of the day.
Now energized, take a walk past the beautiful Galata Tower and across the Galata Bridge to the Hagia Sophia. Galata Bridge is usually lined with fisherman and at the end of the bridge offers a great view of the New Mosque. The New Mosque is impressive and beautiful, but Hagia Sophia is the architectural jewel of Istanbul. Built in 532 AD, Hagia Sophia is breathtaking. However, there is an entrance fee. So, if you want to save money, skip ahead to the Blue Mosque.
Considered one of the most beautiful mosques in the world, the Blue Mosque has six towering minarets and is lined inside with over 21,000 blue Iznik tiles (hence the name). The Blue Mosque is a must-experience in Istanbul. Walk around and experience the architectural beauty and grandeur. Entry is free.
The Grand Bazaar is one of the biggest and oldest covered markets and is considered one of the first “shopping malls.” It has over 4,000 shops across over 60 covered streets. It’s one of the most visited landmarks in the world and an absolute must-see to make any trip to Istanbul complete. The Grand Bazaar is a great place to do some souvenir shopping and the perfect place to grab lunch!
A hamam (or Turkish bath) is a traditional and luxurious spa treatment. It typically starts with a hot room (similar to a sauna) to prepare your skin for treatment. Then, you lie on a warm marble slab and your body is cleaned and scrubbed. Then, a bubble or foam massage follows. Although hamams are separated by gender, it is a public treatment, unlike the private massage you may be used to at home. There are tons of bathhouses throughout the city and only cost about 55 Turkish lira (about $16 Canadian).
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