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Two days in Istanbul: where to go and what to do?

Istanbul is a literal bridge between Europe and Asia. The city combines different cultures and features impressive architecture, history and lots of street bazaars. While Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey, many people still regard it as the country’s main city. And if you have only two days to spend in this amazing place, you should spend the time as efficiently as possible. 

Things to see and do in Istanbul

Things to see and do in Istanbul

The tour should start by visiting Hagia Sophia – an enormous Byzantine cathedral, which has become the most visited landmark in the city. Hagia Sophia amazes with the beauty of mosaics, lightning and overall grandeur, so make sure to spend enough time to explore its interior. You can actually spend here your entire day, admiring the building’s size and contemplating on its very long and complex history.

The Cistern, located opposite to Hagia Sophia, is also worth visiting. It is an ancient underground reservoir, with its ceiling supported by columns made out of the remains of ancient temples. Even today archeologists aren’t quite certain of the columns’ exact origins. Nearby you can also find the so-called “pool of wishes”, where tourists throw coins into the water hoping for the fulfillment of their wishes.

The marvelous Topkapi Palace once was the very heart of the Ottoman Empire and now serves as a reminder of its former glory. Here, atop of the city, surrounded by marvelous gardens, the sultan ruled over the entire empire. Today, you can see the sultan’s quarters, library, wardrobe and throne, and look through over 70 thousands historical exhibits. 

The second day in Istanbul should be devoted not to the attractions but to the feel of this huge city. Those who think that it’s impossible to buy different things all in the same place will have to reconsider after going to the Grand Bazar.

Numerous booths are offering spices, leather products, souvenirs, adornments, bags, clothes, wooden antiques and much more. Over its long history the Grand Bazaar has become the most visited place in Istanbul.

We all know that Istanbul is a mix of both Orient and Occident, but reading it from books is one thing while sitting at the banks of the Bosporus is a completely another one. 

This is the place where it’s very easy to imagine all the events the city was witness to in the past. And while many of these events were battles, the bridge crossing the strait is a great symbol of unity and peace, which connects two different cultures. Walking and boat trips by the Bosporus are certainly the most romantic and interesting way of learning more about the city’s past and present. 

Things to taste in Istanbul


You can’t walk around Istanbul without getting a taste of the Turkish cuisine. Sure, everyone heard about kebab, and that’s exactly the place to taste it: cheap, tasty, nourishing and sold on every corner. 

The traditional Turkish sweets are also better to taste where they actually came from. For example, fresh (not mass-produced) Baklava that comes in over 20 varieties made of more than 40 layers of thin pastry with addition of sugar and pistachios. It takes more than four hours to prepare just one sheet of this traditional sweet. An interesting fact: the recipe for the thin pastry actually comes from the Greeks, which have improved the original sweet and made it more refined. 

And if you want to grab a fast snack, just look for a fish sandwich. It is made of salad, vegetables and grilled fish, and it costs only five liras. 

Article author: Lina Cozlovscki

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