How Many Days Are Enough for a Tour of Istanbul?

Hagia Sophia officially the Great Mosque of Ayasofya photo via Depositphotos

How many days are enough for visiting Istanbul?

Istanbul, the largest city in Europe, is home to some of the world’s most amazing landmarks. The Great Mosque of Ayasofya is one of the most admired places in Istanbul. It is a Christian church-turned-mosque that exudes beauty from all angles. There are over 3,000 mosques in this city and the Blue Mosque is another sought-after attraction. It contains a school or ‘madrasah’, and a tomb while serving pious Muslims and interested tourists. Another must-see place is the Topkapi Palace, a museum with unique historical finds. Here, you will see a lot of the Ottoman empire’s influence in Turkey’s colorful past and charming present. Other landmarks you’d want to visit are Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, Istanbul Archaeology Museum, and so much more.

Hagia Sophia officially the Great Mosque of Ayasofya photo via Depositphotos
Hagia Sophia officially the Great Mosque of Ayasofya photo via Depositphotos

One of the best things about this city is that it’s partly Asian and partly European. It straddles the Bosphorus strait which is where Asia meets Europe. Since Istanbul is vast in land and water, you are guaranteed to have tons of fun things to do in this city. You can wear traditional Turkish clothes, experience a Turkish bath, taste Turkish delights, and, watch the sunrise and sunset from the different vantage points. Since there’s so much to see and a lot to do here, you may be asking yourself, “how many days should I spend in Istanbul”? There’s no fixed answer but these are the most common considerations:

Grand Kiosk of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul
Grand Kiosk of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul

Your Travel bucket list

It can take a lifetime if you’re wanting to immerse yourself into Turkey’s culture. Many immigrants have fallen in love with the way of life in this wondrous country, their festivals, the cuisine, and the helpful people that make life all the more beautiful. But if you just want a vacation in Istanbul, 4 to 5 days of jam-packed touring will already give you most of the city’s best offerings. But this still depends on what’s on your bucket list. Most tourist attractions in Turkey can be toured in less than four hours each unless you want to lounge a little longer. When wondering about how many days is turkey good for, this list should provide a clear overview:

Tour duration: Less than 1 hour

  • Blue (Sultan Ahmed) Mosque
  • Galata Tower
  • Hippodrome
  • Suleymaniye Mosque

Tour duration: 1- 2 hours

  • Hagia Sophia Museum
  • Basilica Cistern
  • Miniaturk
  • Islamic Arts Museum
  • Chora Church
  • Hagia Irene

Tour duration: 2- 3 hours

  • Topkapi Palace
  • Dolmabahçe Palace Museum
  • Maiden’s Tower
  • Archaeology Museum
  • Sabanci Museum
  • Koç Museum
  • Big Palace Mosaic Museum
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Pera Museum

Tour duration: 3 – 4 hours

  • Grand Bazaar
  • Istanbul Modern
  • Sea Life Istanbul

Your Travel budget

Your time in Istanbul will also be determined by how much you’re willing to spend on this holiday. If you’re willing to go all out, then this consideration is not a priority for you. But if you’re into budgeting your costs, this price list will help determine how long your budget will last you. The following prices are subject to change and the currency is in Turkish lira.

Turkish ceramics via Depositphotos
Turkish ceramics via Depositphotos

Average prices of common commodities:

  • Meal (inexpensive): 25 to 45 TL
  • Meal (expensive): 140 TL
  • Beer: 15 – 30 TL
  • Bottled water: 1.45 TL
  • Coffee (regular): 13 TL
  • Ticket (transportation): 5 TL (40% discount with Istanbul kart)
  • Taxi (1km): 3.10 TL

Entrance fees:

  • Grand Bazaar (free)
  • Suleymaniye Mosque (free)
  • Pera Museum (10 TL – 25 TL)
  • Miniaturk (15 TL)
  • Basilica Cistern (20 TL)
  • Big Palace Mosaic Museum (24 TL)
  • Galata Tower (25 TL)
  • Hagia Irene (36 TL)
  • Archaeology Museum (36 TL)
  • Islamic Arts Museum (42 TL)
  • Madame Tussauds (59 TL – 265 TL)
  • Sea Life Istanbul (59 TL – 80 TL)
  • Dolmabahçe Palace Museum (60 TL)
  • Istanbul Modern (60 TL)
  • Hagia Sophia Museum (72 TL)
  • Topkapi Palace (72 TL)

Your energy levels

Some tourists get excited by consolidating many trips in one day, while others want a more forgiving itinerary. Whether you’re a hectic traveler or a relaxed tourist, knowing the best way to get around Istanbul will help manage your energy. After all, this city is the largest in Europe.

Many travelers consider the transportation system in Istanbul efficient. You can opt to travel by tram, by bus, and by metro. All these will pass through many of the city’s best attractions. Since there are many modes of transportation, you can easily get lost when you’re not careful. If it helps to know, the main bus stop in Istanbul is at Eminonu. Should you get stuck in what feels like a maze, don’t hesitate to ask locals—they are often accommodating. Apart from these travel options, mobile apps like BiTaksi, Mobiett, Uber, and Travi will greatly help your journey. Lastly, when crossing continents in Istanbul, you can choose between the fastest route or the most scenic. If you’re up for a time saver, the high-speed underground train, Marmaray will serve you well. If you’re not in a rush, the ferry will give you breathtaking views for almost the same transportation cost.

Istanbul is a meeting place between the modern and ancient times and is the melting pot of two continents. To make the most out of your holiday in Istanbul, you can use the details provided here as a step one towards having the most efficient and fun holiday ever.

Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul photo via Depositphotos
Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul photo via Depositphotos

Istanbul Travel and Tour Packages

To help you plan out your visit to Istanbul, Turkey, we listed places to visit and other amazing activities to do in Istanbul. We also listed some of the best travel and tour packages, as well as excellent flight deals and accommodation.

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Istanbul hotels and resorts via Agoda, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new tourist attractions in Istanbul, Turkey? Follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, and TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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