We have a 7 hour layover in Istanbul Feb.14th and would like some suggestions for tours or things to do from 5:30pm to 1:00am. We will be returning to Istanbul later during our trip but spending 7 hours in the airport does not excite me! Any ideas?
I would recommend a tour with Istanbul Eats. You would see some sights and have dinner. You will have to go by taxi which will take about 30 minutes to Sultanahmet. It sometimes takes about an hour to purchase your visa and clear immigrations. Book your tour early as I understand they fill fast. If you prefer to go on your own you could dine at one of the many restaurants
in the old city and possibly visit the Blue Mosque.
Thank you for your response. I will certainly look into that!
Hi Gary, I'm not sure if Istanbul Eats is still active. I was in Istanbul in July and there were a reports online that they were having some legal problem (nothing sinister - just some weird paperwork/license mixup or something). Still, check them out - it may have been resolved by now. Another option is to take public transportation into the city and walk around the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque area and then take a cab to Kumkapi St. (Pronounced: coom-cop-uh). It's only 5 - 10 minutes from The Blue Mosque by cab. There are SEVERAL fresh fish restaurants all in one little square area (think Little Italy in NEw York City). There are very few tourists there and tons of Turkish people (you really feel like you're in another world). It's loud, lively, and great people watching. Many Turks will go and just sit together for hours drinking, eating, etc. There is live music (musicians traveling from table to table, etc). It's just plain fun. Good Luck!
One idea if you don't go the tour route is simply to walk along Istiklal Street and stop in a restaurant that catches your eye. It's a pedestrain only (except for the historic street car) road about 2 miles long and will be quite active during the time you'll be in town. You can walk around Taksim square at the top end and maybe head to the top of the Galata Tower (depending on hours/access) or down the hill to the Galata Bridge from the other end. Have fun.