I will have an 8 hour layover in Istanbul on my way to Tel Aviv and I plan on going into the city for a little while to do some sightseeing. Does anyone have any advice on the best way to see a little bit the city in a few hours?
Similar questions have been asked in the recent months. Scroll through the next few pages in the East section and you will come across at least 2 threads asking the same question. The answers there may be useful to you or if your situation is different you may need to provide more information such as: - when does your plane land - when does your next plane depart - are you arriving after a trans-atlantic overnight flight
I did see that there were several questions asking almost the same question as I am. I will be arriving at 4 pm on a Saturday. What I want to know (which I didn't see answered in the other posts) is if I should take a taxi/public transportation into the city and do a self guided tour or if I should see about getting a tour guide. If I should try to get a tour guide, does anyone have any suggestions of a good one?
Since it will be late you might think about a tour with Istanbul Eats. There are not that many options for you at that hour. I have not been on their tours but I have heard good things. Otherwise, you could go to the Blue Mosque,the Arista Bazaar and dinner
in Old Town.
A cab is the surest simplest way to get right downtown with the short window you have. They are plentiful at the airport,Sultanahmet, and other tourist areas of the city. I've never experienced a big problem with traffic, but I understand that the subway is a good and lower cost option from the airport if evening traffic is heavy. What time of year will you be visiting? If you're getting in at 4:00 in the winter, realistically you won't be able to see much in terms of tourist sites. Many of the sites close early, some as early as 4:00. In the summer you'll have more options, since some sites will stay open until 7:00. Either way my suggestion is to head down to Sultanahmet for dinner and a some quick siteseeing. In the winter you'll be limited to looking at the outside of the Aya Sophia and Blue Mosque and a walk around the hippodrome. You might also be able to get in a quick tour of the basilica cistern since it stays open a bit later. In the summer you'll have time for a quick walk through the Aya Sophia and a stroll sround the hippodrome. There are lots of restaurant options in Sultanahmet, especially on the streets to the southeast. All are pretty heavily visited by tourists. There are also plenty of options on the Divan Yolu to the northwest, but I haven't had as much luck with them. I am assuming that you want to go to Sultanahmet. If you're just interested in soaking in the setting and eating, there are other parts of the city you could visit. There are some nice restaurants around and on the Galata Bridge, around the Galata/Karakoy area, along Istiklal Street and around Taksim. All of these areas get tourists and will be able to help you place your order. Have fun!
Melissa, I will be doing the same thing with a long lay over in Instanbul and I am taking a half day tour (so that I am sure I am back in time for my flight) through Viator. It provides pick up and drop off and the cost is low. You can opt for whatever attractions you would like and the length of the tour they do have 1hour - 8 hour tours. Good Luck
Melissa, read up about the sights before you leave, so you know what you want to see. Then I'd get a taxi at the airport to the Sultanhamet area. Most of the main sites are all in that area.
The Blue Mosque is magnificent and you will probably be able to get in easily. Hagia Sophia requires a ticket and there may be long queues, although that late in the day, maybe not. That was my number #1 favourite place, it is truly amazing. The Grand Bazaar is also near at hand as is Topkapi Palace. You won't have time to go inside all these places, but if you get to a couple and then spend some time just walking around absorbing the atmosphere, I think you'll have a nice time. Ignore the many shopkeepers who will try to sell you something, smile and keep walking. They're harmless! You'll need to find out how to get a taxi back to the airport, but it shouldn't be too difficult. I hope you enjoy it- Istanbul is my favourite city.