Istanbul Layover:Places to see and things to do in Istanbul

Istanbul Layover:Places to see and things to do in Istanbul

“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze at Istanbul.”

Sultanahmet is Istanbul’s quintessential historic area.  It has almost all of Istanbul’s most famous sights, including the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, and many other smaller sights of interest, including the terminal station of the old Orient Express.  This area is best for first-time visitors to Turkey, as you can see at once the history of Byzantine Christians as well as Ottoman Muslims quite literally in the very same place.

Istanbul Layover:Places to see and things to do in Istanbul

1.)Blue Mosque

Istanbul Layover:Places to see and things to do in Istanbul


Blue mosque is İstanbul’s most photogenic building and it has featured in many movies.It is the largest functioning mosque in Turkey and can have 10,000 people at any times.The Blue Mosque also called Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish was built by Sedefkar Mehmet Aga in the Sultan 1. Ahmet’s time between (1609-1616) years.
Blue Mosque has a feature like social complex by including madrasa, Sultan Resting Mansion, Turkish bath, fountain, hospital, Mekteb-I Sıbyan, rental rooms, and homes.It is surely one of the most beautiful mosques in the world.

2.)Hagia Sophia mosque

Hagia sophia mosque

Hagia sophia mosque

The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia resemble opposing chess pieces on a large game board. They stand to face each other with an average distance of 200 meters between them.
Built-in 360 as an orthodox church, the Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque in 1453, then into a museum in 1935.

3.)Topkapi Palace

Istanbul Layover:Places to see and things to do in Istanbul

Topokapi Palace

As I walked to the gatehouse of the Topkapi Palace, I must admit it was one the most unimpressive sights I have seen.But little did I know that behind these gate walls lies collections of courtyards, rooms, and imperial places that portray both the colorful and mysterious life of the Ottoman Sultans.The most interesting section of the palace is the Harem.Those times sultans could have as many wives they want and they were all housed in the Harem. The only men allowed in the harem were black eunuchs, castrated slaves with no sexual urges.
Many historians say that the harem and intense competition among the Sultans ultimately led to the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, a force that was once so powerful, it ruled nearly half the earth.

4.) The Basilica Cistern

Istanbul Layover:Places to see and things to do in Istanbul

Basilica Cistern

Also known as a sunken palace, this underground palace is a collection of old water tubes located around 500 feet below the ground.The place was built in the 6th century and its sole purpose was to store water for the Great Palace and other buildings in the area but later after the Ottoman revolt in 1453,  it was used to water the gardens of the Topkapi Palace.

5.)Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

Grand Bazaar

A bazaar with 60 streets no less than 5000 shops and 12 mosques don’t believe me visit the 500-year-old grand bazaar in Istanbul.Its been there for centuries and trust me you will find more locals than tourists.
A must visit

6.)Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresi

Turkish Coffee Istanbul

Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresi

A 300-year old Medresi was a religious school once upon a time in ottoman empire but as they when the time changes everything changes.
The place is now a popular hangout for students and tourists who come here to have an aromatic cup of Turkish coffee whilst enjoying the fragrant smoke of sheesha {Water pipe}.
It’s in the neighborhood of grand bazaar.


BEYOGLU IS the modern Istanbul.It is where the most of the clubs, bars, shopping places are located.In a way it
is good for visitors who have already seen much of the famous sights in Istanbul and are interested in engaging with the modern city.

7.) Take a bite of Döner Kebabs

Istanbul doner

Bite a Doner


Döner Kebab is Turkey’s greatest gift to the world and
Istanbul is the home of Dôner kebabs
Döner kebab is a Turkish dish made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, normally lamb but sometimes chicken. The sliced meat of a döner kebab may be served wrapped in a pita bread.
Asim usta the man with a gorgeous smile is the one who has been running Istanbul’s most famous Döner shop for decades.It is the only kebab shop which has long ques and if you reach in evening most probably the place will be shut because meat is over:)

Where: Sinanpasa, Mumcu Bakkal Sk. No. 6, 34353 Besiktas, Istanbul

8.)Galata tower

Istanbul Layover:Places to see and things to do in Istanbul

Famour Galata Tower

Galata tower is one of the tallest structures in Istanbul.Built in the 13th century, the tower has witnessed many wars and bloodbaths.It still stands tall and is often visible from a distance across the city.
A must visit.

9.)Taksim Square

Takshim Square istanbul

Istiklal street

The Square is the known modern city center of Istanbul. There are many hotels and restaurants around the Square.
The Square is also the meeting place to celebrate New Year’s Eve, parades, public concerts and other shows.
Just next to it is Istiklal pedestrian street.The street has many bars, movie theaters and lots of shops, therefore, it’s always busy with young people almost for 24 hours a day. It is the famous shopping street in ISTANBUL
Shopping in Istanbul is a must thing to do.

10.)Eat Menemen

Menmen Istanbul


Located just off Istiklal street, Lades Menmen is a Turkish breakfast restaurant that is famous for serving menemen.
Menemen is a Turkish breakfast made by lightly scrambling eggs in a sauce of stewed tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices.
It becomes something like a very juicy omelet (or soupy scrambled egg) and is served with homemade bread that you use to dip, soak, and scoop up the menemen.

Address: Katip Çelebi Mahallesi, İstiklal Caddesi, Sadri Alışık Sokak, No 11, Beyoğlu, İstanbul; Open hours: 6 am to 11 pm daily.

11.) Balik Ekmek at Eminönü (fish sandwich)

Balik Ekmek

Balik Ekmek

Street food is my kind of food and Balik Ekmek tops the list of Turkish street food.It a fish sandwich made of grilled mackerel fillets with some salad and peppers, of course, all stuffed in a baguette.One bite of this juicy sandwich is enough to convince you to have some more.It’s sold on either side of the Galata bridge where there lots of boat restaurants who sell this.


Nightlife Istanbul


Istanbul mostly pulls in visitors for staggering monuments and heroic history, but when the sun goes down Istanbul’s nightlife really comes alive.
My favorite is the neighborhood of Karaköy. Its a pile of streets filled with open-air bars and cafes.It’s a place where you find hipsters, poets, artists, and photographers.Love the street vibe here.

13.) Belly dancing

Belly Dance istanbul

Belly dance

If Ottomans took a lot form the world, they did manage to give one thing to us “Belly Dancing ”.Sultana’s in Istanbul has live belly dancing shows every weekend and they also have belly dancing training courses.

Where to stay

Zeynep Sultan Hotel

Istanbul Layover:Places to see and things to do in Istanbul

Zeynep Hotel

The Zeynep hotel is a very small hotel right in the heart of old Istanbul.From its terrace you can see the old mosques and minarets, it surely will transport you to the Ottoman times.It’s a 2-minute walk from Hagia Sophia mosque and blue mosque.All the other attractions are 10 minutes from this place.
It serves the best Turkish breakfast.

14.)Get a Turkish Bath

Turkish Bath Istanbul


Istanbul can’t be complete without visiting one authentic, historic Hamam, or bathhouse.
Hamams are huge ottoman structures where you experience a turkish bath.It’s a place where you receive body wash and a message in hot steamy room and then you move to a cold room to dry off. All the famous Hamams in Istanbul are at least 200 years old and some since 5 th century.

About the Author

KaranVeer Gauttam


Layovers is a personal travel blog which was started by Baba Aka Karanveer .He currently works as Cabin crew for a well known international airline that flies all over the world.He loves traveling to new countries where he explores the culture, the city, and its food. He hopes to inspire you to live a life you love and settle for nothing less than extraordinary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *