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« Turkey Itinerary

Day 1 – İstanbul

 
Planning
Itinerary, Planning & Information
All the information, planning and visa details.
 
Day 1
İstanbul
This section

« Two weeks in Turkey

 
Day 2
İstanbul
Next up is second day in the largest city.

My first day in Turkey was actually the day before this one. Having arrived at 3pm and after getting the visa-upon-arrival and clearing customs, I took the Havataş shuttle bus from Ataturk airport to Taksim Square (costs TL 10). By the time I arrived at the apartment I had booked through AirBnB (see below), it was 7pm so I had an early dinner and called it a day, recovering from jet-lag.

So this makes my second day in Istanbul, but first one to go around the city. Having pre-planned on sights to visit in the two days of Istanbul, I headed out early; and realized that it was Saturday morning and people were heading home from partying all night!

Stopped by the local bakery next door for some Sütlü Kahve (coffee with milk) and a light breakfast, while going through the places I will be visiting today – Aya Sofya, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Grand Bazar, Çemberlitaş hamam, Basilica Cistern, Column of Constantine and Süleymaniye Mosque.

The Cats Apartment

cats apartment

Value
Location
Cleanliness
Rooms
Service
Breakfast included: Self.

Address: 27/6 Sadri Alışık Sk, Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey
Website: www.airbnb.com/rooms/785558

Great location, good apartment for five people
Located just perfectly away from the hustle of Istiklal Street in Taksim neighborhood in a by-lane, but still 100m walking distance from the main street, and about half a kilometer from Taksim Square. This apartment is owned by Nico, who is a fantastic host – very helpful and friendly.

The apartment has two bedrooms – one of which is a living room & a bedroom – and one bathroom. The kitchen is clean and has all the basic facilities like stove, water heater, fridge and utensils. The owner also provides coffee, tea and sugar. Towels, bedsheets and an extra mattress come with hthe apartment.

There’s an Istanbulkart in the apartment which you can top-up for your use and leave it back there before you leave.

 

Istanbulkart

istanbul-kart-busIstanbulKart (Istanbul Card) is an all-round public transportation boarding pass. It is a must if you plan to use the cheap and effective public transportation multiple times during your stay in Istanbul. So, unless you prefer to do everything on foot or take a taxi to get around, please get one!

The card was introduced in 2009 and is a contact less or RFID (Radio-frequency identification) card for public transportation fare payment. It has the exact same size as a regular credit card, so it fits perfectly in your wallet. The card is pre-paid and easily rechargeable. There are quite a few advantages to getting an Istanbul Kart as opposed to buying tokens or ticket every time you’re going to use public transportation.

Multi-Purpose — This single card enables you to pay for multiple types of transportation: buses, metros, ferries, funiculars, and tramways (yes, even the nostalgic one running on Istiklal Caddesi). Moreover, most of these transportation types no longer accept cash payments, so you’ll have to buy some kind of token or ticket before boarding anyway.

Pre-Paid — Istanbul Kart is a prepaid and rechargeable card. This means that you don’t have to stand in line (and maybe miss the bus or tram) to get a valid boarding pass every time you plan to make use of public transportation. And uploading more credits can be done at designated machines, most of the times without a queue in front of you.

Ease of Use — It is not necessary to bring the Istanbul Kart in contact with the reader. You can pay for your fare by ‘waving’ the smart card within 8 cm (3.1 in) of the reader. In most cases you don’t even have to take it out of your wallet, purse or light hand bag. Upon making a successful payment, the reader will make a sound and the screen will light up showing the amount left on the card. In case of insufficient funds, the screen will read Kontör Yetersiz.

Multiple Travelers — There is no need to buy multiple cards since one Istanbul Kart can be used for up to 5 passengers. After paying the fare for the first passenger, let him or her hop on or pass through the turnpike, wait a few seconds, and again wave the card in front of the reader.

Discounts — By using the card, you already benefit from a 10% discount over the normal fare. Instead of paying 2 TL per ride, you pay 1.95. And there is more. You can make up until five transfers/connections within a two hour period, and you’ll pay less for every transfer, already only 1.25 TL for the first transfer.

The easiest way to get the Istanbul Kart is at major transit stops such as Taksim, Eminönü, Sultanahmet, Beyazıt/Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar), etc. You can’t buy them at the airport. The closest place to the airport where you can obtain them currently is Zeytinburnu. To buy an Istanbul Kart, you need to give a refundable TL 10 deposit, and of course an amount of your choice to load onto the card.

To reload the card, you can either go to newsstands and small shops (look for the phrase Akbil Dolum Noktası) which offer this service, use self-service special purpose machines at major transit stations. The machines accept notes of 5, 10, 20, and 50 TL and have instructions in multiple languages.

 

The easiest way of getting from Taksim Square to Sultanahmet neighborhood is to take the funicular from Taksim station to Kabataş (pronounced kaa-baa-tash) metro station and hop on the metro train to Sultanahmet station.

From Sultanahmet station, it is two minute walk to the Blue Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)

Sultan Ahmet I set out to build a monument that would rival and surpass the nearby Aya Sofya in grandeur and beauty. This is the one of the only two mosques in the world with six minarets, the other being in Saudi Arabia. The courtyard is the biggest of all Ottoman mosques. The interior is grand and huge, with tens of thousands of blue tiles that give this mosque its name.

The mosque is one of the top attractions on Istanbul and to preserve the sacred atmosphere, only worshippers are allowed through the main door, whereas tourists enter through the south door.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

 

Aya Sofya

Right across from the Blue Mosque is the most extraordinary and visited places – Aya Sofya. Also called Hagia Sophia in Greek, Sancta Sophia in Latin and Church of the Divine Wisdom, this was reigned as the greatest church when it was completed in 537 until the Conquest in 1453. Mehmet the Conqueror converted it in to a mosque until 1935 when Ataturk proclaimed it as a museum (entrance fees TL 25).

The gigantic circular-framed disks or medallions hung on columns are inscribed with the names of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, the first four caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, and the two grandchildren of Mohammed: Hassan and Hussain.

In the main area where the altar used to stand, notice the mihrab, which was shifted to the right, now point to Mecca.

Also see: Fantastic pictures of Hagia Sophia

Wishing Column
At the northwest of the building, you will see a long line of people waiting to poke their thumb inside a hole in a column. This column goes by different names; the perspiring column, the wishing column, the sweating column or the crying column. The column is said to be damp when touched and have supernatural powers. It is believed that if you poke your thumb in the hole, turn clockwise and if your thumb gets wet then your wishes come true.

Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya

Mihrab (former alter) shifted to right to face Mecca

Mihrab (former alter) shifted to right to face Mecca

The Deësis mosaic

The Deësis mosaic

 

Basilica Cistern

This 65m wide and 143m long cistern is supported by 336 columns arranged in 12 rows. It once held 80,000 cu meters of water pumped and delivered through nearly 20km of aqueducts. It was used to store water for the great palace and the surrounding buildings. The sheer grandeur of the cistern is quite extraordinary.

Don’t miss the two columns in way back supported by upside-down Medusa heads and the column towards the center featuring a teardrop design.

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Medusa at Basilica Cistern

Medusa at Basilica Cistern

Medusa at Basilica Cistern

Medusa at Basilica Cistern

Teardrop column at Basilica Cistern

Teardrop column at Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

 

Column of Constantine

After all the walking around, I headed to the neighborhood of Çemberlitaş to the Çemberlitaş Hamam and soaked in the Turkish massage and sauna of one of the best hamams in town.

See – Hamams of Istanbul

Right outside the door of the hamam is the Column of Constantine that commemorates the declaration of Byzantium as the new capital city of the Roman Empire.

Column of Constantine

Column of Constantine

It was time for some lunch at Garden View restaurant right outside Aya Sofya, before heading to the Grand Bazaar.

 

Grand Bazaar

This labyrinthine and chaotic bazaar is the heart of the Old City and no visit to Istanbul is complete without a stop here. The bazaar is closed on Sundays and open from 8:30am to 7:30pm from Monday to Saturday.

Today the bazaar has 16 hans (caravanserais), 64 lanes, banks, mosques, restaurants, workshops and more than 2000 shops making it a world in itself. Allow at least 2 hours here.

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

By the time I got out of Grand Bazaar, it was almost past sunset and time for some fresh fish by the Galata bridge. Make sure to ask the price of the fish or you will be charged a heavy load of money at the end of your meal.

After some Calamari and Salmon, it was time to head back to Taksim Square and call it a day.

 

Costs

Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult. The exchange rate at the time of publishing is assumed to be USD 1 = TRY 1.8.
 

What Cost Notes
Istanbulkart top-up TL 30 or $16.70 To be used for all transportation for two days.
Aya Sofya TL 25 or $13.90 Entrance Fees
Aya Sofya Tour guide TL 20 or $11.40 Entrance fees.
Basilica Cistern TL 10 or $5.60
Lunch at Garden restaurant TL 23 or $12.80
Çemberlitaş Hamam €90 or $117 One hour of massage & sauna
Dinner at Fish market TL 132 or $73.30
Snacks & water TL 10 or $5.60
Toilets TL 3 or $1.70
Total Costs $258 Per person
Overall Costs $1,585.20 Per person

 

48 Hours in Istanbul English
Experience the only city in the world spanning across two continents and visit most of the sights in 48 hours. With hour-by-hour details, this is an exhaustive guide to Istanbul.

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Day 1: Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Aya Sofya, Basilica Cistern Column of Constantine, Çemberlitaş Hamam, Grand Bazaar

Day 2: Topkapı Palace, Spice Bazaar, New Mosque, Galata Bridge, Galata Tower, Bosphorus Ferry, İstiklal street, Taksim Square

48 Stunden in Istanbul Deutsch
Erleben Sie die einzige Stadt der Welt auf zwei Kontinenten überspannt und besuchen Sie die meisten Sehenswürdigkeiten in 48 Stunden. Mit Stunde um Stunde Details, ist dies eine umfassende Anleitung für Istanbul.

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Tag 1: Sultan Ahmet Moschee, Hagia Sophia, die Basilika Zisterne Column of Constantine, Çemberlitaş Hamam, Großer Basar

Tag 2: Topkapi-Palast, der Gewürzmarkt, New Moschee, Galata-Brücke, Galata-Turm, Bosphorus Ferry, Istiklal-Straße, Taksim-Platz

48 Hours in Istanbul Español
Experimente la única ciudad del mundo que abarca a través de dos continentes, y visitar la mayoría de los lugares de interés en 48 horas. Con datos hora a hora, se trata de una guía exhaustiva de Estanbul.

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Día 1: Sultan Ahmet mezquita, Aya Sofya, Cisterna Basílica Columna de Constantino, Çemberlitaş Hamam, el Gran Bazar

Día 2: el Palacio de Topkapi, Bazar de las Especias, la Mezquita Nueva, Puente Gálata, Torre de Gálata Bósforo Ferry, calle Istiklal, Plaza de Taksim

48 horas em Istambul Português
Experimente a única cidade do mundo que mede através de dois continentes e visitar a maioria das atrações em 48 horas. Com detalhes de hora em hora, este é um guia exaustivo para Istambul.

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Dia 1: Sultan Ahmet Mesquita, Aya Sofya, Cisterna da Basílica Coluna de Constantino, Çemberlitaş Hamam, Grand Bazaar

Dia 2: o Palácio de Topkapi, Bazar das Especiarias, Mesquita Nova, Galata Bridge, a Torre Galata, Ferry Bósforo, rua Istiklal, a Praça Taksim

 

Actual prices on the respective websites or stores may be different from that mentioned here; please check the prices on the respective websites or stores before purchasing. All prices mentioned on this website are in USD, unless otherwise mentioned. Price for regions around the world may show in their local currency and may be different. We apologize for errors and would love to hear from you.

 

 
Planning
Itinerary, Planning & Information
All the information, planning and visa details.
 
Day 1
İstanbul
This section

« Two weeks in Turkey

 
Day 2
İstanbul
Next up is second day in the largest city.

TWO WEEKS IN TURKEY

 

 
Planning
Itinerary, Planning & Information

Day 1
İstanbul
First day in the largest city.

Day 2
İstanbul
Second day in the largest city.

Day 3
İzmir
Coastal city of İzmir.

Day 4
Çeşme
Coastal town featuring thermal baths & castle

Day 5
İzmir to Kuşadası
Traveling from İzmir to Kuşadası & spending day there.

Day 6
Ephesus, Selçuk, Şirince
Visiting Efes & towns of Selçuk & Şirince.

Day 7
Pamukkale
Cotton travertines and Hierapolis

Day 8
Kuşadası to Bodrum
Traveling from Kuşadası to Bodrum & day there.

Day 9
Bodrum to Ölüdeniz
Traveling from Bodrum to Ölüdeniz & day there.

Day 10
Ölüdeniz, Kayaköy
Boat trip at the Blue Lagoon & ghost town of Kayaköy

Day 11
Ölüdeniz, Fethiye
Paragliding in Ölüdeniz & visiting Lycan ruins in Fethiye.

Day 12
Fethiye to Göreme
Traveling from Fethiye to Göreme

Day 13
Göreme
Main town of Cappadocia region.

Day 14
Uçhisar, Avanos
Small towns of Uçhisar & Avanos in Cappadocia region.

Day 15
Kaymaklı, Çavuşin & Paşabağ
Towns of Çavuşin & Paşabağ, and Kaymaklı underground city

Day 16
Cappadocia to Istanbul
Last day from Göreme to Kayseri & between Istanbul’s domestic to international airports.

Expenses
How much did it cost?
List of all the expenses.
* Currency exchange rate is provided 'as is' and solely for informational purposes, not for trading purposes or advice, and may be delayed. © Yahoo! Finance

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