Istanbul Uncovered: A Remarkable 2-Day Itinerary for Every Traveler

This city is so beautiful and captivating that it’s impossible to resist. Of course, we’re talking about Istanbul, which has remained popular for centuries. You might have never visited this stunning city, but that doesn’t mean you won’t. We’ve written an itinerary on how to uncover Istanbul in 48 hours!

an aerial shot of istanbul in turkey

Day One: Hello Istanbul!

Must Visit Day

You’ve woken up on the morning you’ll begin discovering Istanbul; good morning. It’s going to be a long, tiring day, but it’s worth it for Istanbul.

Have a delicious breakfast at your accommodation and fuel up. Next, head to Sultanahmet, where you’ll find the history of Istanbul on display. Start with a visit to Topkapi Palace, the longest-lived palace of the Ottoman Empire. Here, you’ll see personal belongings of sultans and emperors, as well as historical documents. A 2-hour visit to Topkapi Palace is enough for this condensed Istanbul tour.

After leaving Topkapi Palace, visit Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cistern, a 6th-century Byzantine masterpiece.

Lunchtime in Eminonu

It’s lunchtime, and everyone’s hungry. Take the tram from Sultanahmet to Eminonu and enjoy the famous fish sandwich by the seaside, accompanied by pickle juice. Rest a bit because your next destination is Karakoy.

You can get to Karakoy by tram or on foot. Turkey’s first and the world’s second metro is waiting for you here. Hop on the Karakoy tunnel and take a short journey to Taksim.

Once you get off the metro, your first stop should be Galata Tower, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Istanbul and fall in love with it all over again. After your Galata Tower adventure, walk along Istiklal Avenue and watch street performers. You’re guaranteed to have a great time!

Dinner in Istiklal Avenue

people walking beside a tram

For dinner, both Istiklal Avenue and Karakoy offer excellent options. It’s up to you to decide. If you want, you can dine at one of the pleasant restaurants tucked away in the side streets of Karakoy or one of the historic eateries along Istiklal Avenue. There are also modern cafes on Istiklal that offer international cuisine.

Day Two: Keep Exploring Istanbul!

You’ll see many beautiful places on your second and final day in Istanbul. Today, you’ll explore Istanbul’s Asian side.

Your first stop is, of course, Üsküdar, which has inspired countless songs and is home to numerous historical sites. If you haven’t had breakfast yet, enjoy a simit and tea with a view of the Maiden’s Tower.

From Üsküdar, you have two choices. You can spend the rest of the day immersed in city life in Kadiköy or head to the Princess Islands for a quiet, colorful stroll. Let’s start with the Princess Islands.

We Recommend Büyükada

house at the princes islands turkey

After about an hour-long ferry ride, you’re on Büyükada.

Rent a bike right away and prepare yourself to climb up to Aya Yorgi Church. Once you reach the top, enjoy the view and have a delicious meal. When you’re ready, head back down the hill and continue exploring the island by bike.

Catch the ferry back to the mainland, but don’t forget to take photos of Istanbul during your journey. You can even buy a simit before boarding the ferry and feed the seagulls.

If You Prefer Kadiköy

people walking on concrete bridge

Dive straight into the heart of the market. You’ll see a very different, colorful, and lively side of Istanbul here. Start by exploring Güneşlibahçe Street, which houses the fish market, from one end to the other.

photo of a crowded street in istanbul turkey

Next, head to Moda. As you walk down Moda Avenue, you’ll see many cafes along the way. You can take a short break at one of them.

Then continue walking towards the seaside. You’ll see people sitting under the trees, chatting, making music, and reading books. Spend at least 1-2 hours in this area.

Dinner in Kadıköy

There are plenty of options for dinner in Kadiköy. Inside the market, Ekspress İnegöl Köfte is a classic Kadiköy choice.

cover turkish flag and behind galata tower in istanbul

Even though 2 days is a short time for Istanbul, following these suggestions will help you complete your Istanbul tour in 48 hours. We hope you love Istanbul as much as we do. We’d love to see you in Istanbul again.

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See you again soon!


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