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How to Spend 2 Days in Istanbul

How to Spend 2 Days in Istanbul

Two days in Istanbul let you explore beyond the must-see attractions and discover the city’s European and Asian sides. Split your time between continents, experiencing the UNESCO World Heritage highlights in and near Sultanahmet, and then spend day two navigating the sights and tastes on the eastern side of the Bosphorus. Here’s how to do Istanbul in 48 hours.

Day 1: Sightsee in the City

Morning: Maximize your time with an early morning tour of Topkapi Palace and take a peek at the lavish former residence of the Ottoman’s sultans, including the Harem Apartments. Stop to take photos of Sultanahmet Square, the former Hippodrome of Constantinople, before visiting two more of Istanbul’s architectural highlights—Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) and the Blue Mosque.

Afternoon: Browse the stalls at the gigantic Grand Bazaar, where you’ll find everything from handicrafts to clothing to carpets—be sure to haggle if you want a bargain. Continue to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, where the colorful spices make for stunning photographs and you can taste lokum (Turkish Delight) in every flavor imaginable.

Night: Stroll over the Galata Bridge at sunset to watch the local fishermen casting their lines along the Golden Horn—another great photo opportunity. Galata is an atmospheric spot for dinner and drinks, but for evening entertainment, you could also attend a Whirling Dervish performance or a traditional belly dancing show.

Day 2: Journey to Asia

Morning: Ride the ferry across the Bosphorus to Kadikoy on Istanbul’s Asian side and spend the morning exploring the neighborhood. Ride the historic tram and visit the famous fish market, then continue north into Uskudar to admire landmarks including Beylerbeyi Palace, Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, and Beylerbeyi Mosque.

Afternoon: Set sail on a scenic cruise along the Bosphorus and admire views of both sides of the city. Keep your camera handy as you pass landmarks including the Bosphorus Bridge, Dolmabahce Palace and Ciragan Palace on the European shore, and Beylerbeyi Palace, Maiden’s Palace, and Anadolu Fortress on the Asian side.

Night: This is your last chance to sample Istanbul’s delicious cuisine, so spend your final evening on a Turkish food tour. Relish tasty street-food favorites like simit bagels, tuck into freshly grilled kebabs, and indulge in sweet baklava accompanied by a glass of traditional raki and a classic Turkish coffee.

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13 Tours and Activities

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Bosphorus Full Day Tour: Bosphorus Cruise, Uskudar and Dolmabahce Palace

Bosphorus Full Day Tour: Bosphorus Cruise, Uskudar and Dolmabahce Palace

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82
Cruise the stunning Bosphorus Strait and Golden Horn and experience three of the best Istanbul sights on this adventure-filled full-day sightseeing tour. This tour takes you on a boat ride on the Bosphorus Strait to savor spectacular sights of bridges, palaces, mosques and fortresses. Stop at Dolmabahçe Palace for a guided tour and explore the alluring scents and colors of the Spice Bazaar. Visit Rüstem Pasha Mosque on top of Camlica Hill and capture wide views of the skyline. Plus, enjoy a delicious 3-course meal along the beautiful shoreline.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$106.65
From
$106.65

Buyukada Princes’ Island Guided Day Tour with lunch from Istanbul

Buyukada Princes’ Island Guided Day Tour with lunch from Istanbul

star-3.5
67
Experience the serenity of the biggest Princes' Island in Turkey, Büyükada, on this full-day guided tour from Istanbul. After traversing the Sea of Marmara by boat, arrive on the quaint island to spend time exploring by horse-drawn carriage. On Büyükada, learn about the island’s history from your guide, and enjoy ample time to lounge on its beautiful beaches. 
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$77.02
From
$77.02

Istanbul Classics Half Day Morning Tour

Istanbul Classics Half Day Morning Tour

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44
Behold the magnificent Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque on this 3.5-hour small-group guided walking tour of Istanbul’s best monuments. You will delve into the complex culture of Istanbul as you discover its famous monuments intertwined history. Not only will you see the beauty of Hagia Sophia Museum and Blue Mosque, but explore the Hippodrome of Constantinople and the German Fountain. People are limited to 15 on this tour, so you can receive more personalized attention from your guide.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$47.40
From
$47.40

Istanbul Asian Side: Uskudar and Kadikoy Small-Group Tour with Lunch

Istanbul Asian Side: Uskudar and Kadikoy Small-Group Tour with Lunch

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13
Discover the cosmopolitan neighborhoods of Istanbul’s Asian side on this full-day tour, including a 3-course lunch of traditional Turkish cuisine. Experience local life as you explore the lively fish market and admire the Ottoman-era architecture of Üsküdar, renowned for its marvellous mosques. After lunch, browse the markets of Kadıköy and wander through the stylish Moda district, before hopping on a ferry for a 20-minute cruise back across the Bosphorus. This small-group tour is limited to 15 people, ensuring a personal experience.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$106.65
From
$106.65

Istanbul by Night: Local Food Tasting - Dining Out in Turkish Way as Locals

Istanbul by Night: Local Food Tasting - Dining Out in Turkish Way as Locals

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81
Awaken your culinary senses with this small-group Turkish food night tour in Istanbul. This tour explores Istanbul’s off the beaten path eateries, letting you discover the best of Turkey’s traditional tastes. Visit a barbecue restaurant and roast kebabs over an open flame, savor classics from a ‘simit’ bakery and enjoy live music and delicious meze at a ‘meyhane’ (Turkish tapas bar). This small-group food tour is limited to 15 people, for more personalized attention from your guide.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$94.80
From
$94.80

Skip the Line: Whirling Dervish Ceremony Ticket in Istanbul

Skip the Line: Whirling Dervish Ceremony Ticket in Istanbul

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136
Marvel at the mystique of whirling dervishes as they gracefully dance the ceremonial ‘sema’ Mevlevi at the emblematic Hodjapasha Dance Theater in Istanbul. Enjoy a cultural evening in Istanbul during this age-old performance of choreographed spiritual dancing accompanied by traditional music and Persian chanting. Before the show, set the mood with Turkish delight and a drink at the bar. Then, admire the dervishes as they elegantly twist and turn in their white flowing gowns.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
From
$37.92
From
$37.92

Bosphorus Strait and Black Sea Half-Day Cruise from Istanbul

Bosphorus Strait and Black Sea Half-Day Cruise from Istanbul

star-4
100
Spend a pleasant afternoon exploring the Bosphorus Strait and the Black Sea during this cruise from Istanbul. Before departing, taste traditional Turkish meze and other specialties aboard the boat at the dock and then begin your cruise of the Bosphorus Strait from Rumeli Hisarı Fortress. You will see top attractions like Galata Tower and the Bosphorus Bridge as you cruise into the Black Sea. Plus, discover the old fortress remnants at Anadolu Kavağı and even stop for dip into the Black Sea at Poyrazköy, a charming seaside village.
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  • 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$53.32
From
$53.32

Full-Day City Tour with Private Tour Guide and Red Carpet Treatment with Luxury Minibus

Full-Day City Tour with Private Tour Guide and Red Carpet Treatment with Luxury Minibus

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14
Enjoy a royal welcome to Istanbul as you’re picked up by a private guide, escorted around the sights in a luxurious Mercedes-Benz minibus and whisked to the front of the queue at the city’s most popular attractions. A great introduction to Istanbul for first-time visitors, this full-day tour includes visits to the historic Hippodrome, the exquisite Blue Mosque and iconic Hagia Sophia. You’ll also experience the lavish lifestyles of the Ottoman Sultans with a tour of Topkapi Palace and spend time browsing the colorful stalls of the Grand Bazaar.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$166.56
Price varies by group size
From
$166.56
Price varies by group size

Full-Day Istanbul Tour with Bosphorus Sightseeing Cruise

Full-Day Istanbul Tour with Bosphorus Sightseeing Cruise

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20
Discover one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, on this full-day guided sightseeing tour of Istanbul. Get around in comfort and style with a Mercedes minivan, and beeline with your guide to the Spice Bazaar, a historic market full of the smells and colors of Turkey. Stroll the old corridors of Dolmabahçe Palace, the final place that Ottoman emperors occupied. Then, cruise down the Bosphorus Strait, taking in the sights of the Asian and European sides. This tour is limited to 12 people to ensure a quality experience.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$88.00
From
$88.00

Small-Group Full Day Gallipoli & ANZAC Battlefields from Istanbul
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Small-Group Full Day Gallipoli & ANZAC Battlefields from Istanbul

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64
Explore the Gallipoli Peninsula and its famous sites during this small-group guided day trip from Istanbul. During World War I in 1915-16, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) launched an Allied campaign that resulted in the loss of many lives during a standoff with Turkish troops. Your journey takes you to historic site to remember those who fought and includes ANZAC Cove and Lone Pine, Johnston’s Jolly, The Nek, and Chunuk Bair. Lunch is provided during the trip.
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  • 16 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$95.00
From
$95.00

Istanbul Super Saver: Small-Group City Sightseeing Tour plus Turkish Dinner and Show
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Istanbul Super Saver: Small-Group City Sightseeing Tour plus Turkish Dinner and Show

star-4
58
Discover the enchanting city of Istanbul on this convenient two-in-one tour that saves you 10% off the normal price. By combining two of Istanbul’s best-selling tours, you’re guaranteed to see the best of this historic city in one convenient trip. Don’t miss sites like the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Take advantage of some time on your own to explore, then savor a 4-course Turkish dinner and with belly dancing and live traditional Turkish folk music.
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  • 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$135.00
From
$135.00

Istanbul Super Saver: Half-Day Bosphorus Cruise and Egyptian Spice Market Tour plus Turkish Dinner and Show

Istanbul Super Saver: Half-Day Bosphorus Cruise and Egyptian Spice Market Tour plus Turkish Dinner and Show

star-5
2
Explore Istanbul’s touted sites on the cheap by combining a cruise, dinner with Anatolian folk music and a market visit on this Super Saver tour. Select from two different times to start your tour. An professional guide will inform you about the rich history of your experiences throughout the day. See the Egyptian Spice Market, cruise the Bosphorus Strait, and conclude with a 4-course Turkish dinner, including drinks and a belly-dancing show.
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  • 1 day
  • Free Cancellation
From
$125.00
From
$125.00

Istanbul Super Saver: Bosphorus Sightseeing Tour & Dining Out in a Turkish Way

Istanbul Super Saver: Bosphorus Sightseeing Tour & Dining Out in a Turkish Way

star-4.5
2
Discover the vibrant meeting point of East and West and experience Istanbul through all five senses with this action-packed Super Saver, combining two of Istanbul’s best-selling tours into one great-value package. First, enjoy a full-day sightseeing tour, including lunch, a 2.5-hour cruise along the Golden Horn and Bosphorus, and visits to the Spice Bazaar, Dolmabahçe Palace and the Rüstem Pasha Mosque. Next, savor the tastes of Istanbul on an evening food tasting tour and tuck into mezes, simit and kebabs, accompanied by live Turkish music.
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  • 11 hours 40 minutes to 12 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$201.44
From
$201.44