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1 Day Cruise Stop - see city walls close to Hagia Sophia

We have a 1 day cruise stop 9am-6pm in Istanbul and after reading the great comments from other travelers, we are planning to walk over the Galata Bridge where our priority stops will be Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome and Blue Mosque. We would also find the old city wall very interesting and I would like to find out if there is a section of the wall close to the 3 sights we will see and within walking distance. Or, is there a particular section of the wall that would be recommended as the 1 place we should get to by taxi -- I have read about the Yedikule Fortress which sounds amazing and traveling with our 2 teenage boys, I think they would find this fascinating. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Other stops that are less priority for us are Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, and I don't know if we would have time to squeeze at least the Spice Market in on the way back to the ship? Thanks!

Posted by
95 posts

Sounds great to stop in Istanbul on a cruise! We were in Istanbul 5 days in Nov-Dec 2014...Here are some thoughts...my favorite place is the Blue Mosque...It is magnificent! I preferred it to Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) ... You don't have to much time but if you have teenage boys they might like walking around Taksim Sq. (site of political unrest 2 yrs. ago) down towards the Galata Tower, down the promenade, Istiklal Cadddesi- there are lots of hip stores (hip) and towards the Galata Tower are the best music stores with cool instruments...

Most tourists enjoy the Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Spice Market- and Hamman bathhouse.

Also great food in old City Sultanhamet below the tourist attractions.

The tram is fantastic, quick, efficent, better then the taxi's that get stuck in traffic!
I loved Istanbul and your time there will go too fast! Feel free to ask more questions.. Have a great trip!

Posted by
16764 posts

Rick's Istanbul book lays out a walking route from the Chora Church (take a taxi there, closed Wednesdays), heading northeast along Hoca Cadir Cad, and further along the walls of Theodosius to the Egrikapi Gate near Ayvansaray Cad. Google Maps shows these streets, but not the wall. Rick allows one hour to visit the church and one hour for that portion of the walk. The rest of the walk described is away from the wall, through the Lonca, Balat, and Fener neighborhoods. (I don't find this section in Rick's Mediterranean Cruise Ports book.)

Posted by
338 posts

You plan sounds doable, but it will be busy. Use your top three sites (Aya Sophia, Hippodrome and Blue Mosque) as your starting point. They are a bit of a walk from Galata Bridge (maybe 1 to 1.5 miles depending on your path), but are all right next to each other. The Aya Sophia will take about 2 hours. The Blue Mosque will take about 30+ minutes (pay attention to worship times). The Hippodrome will also take about 30+ minutes. It's a good option if you are delayed getting into the Blue Mosque. There are lots of lunch options on the streets down the hill to the southeast of these sites. The city walls are probably a 15 to 20 minute cab ride from Sultanahmet depending on the amount of traffic.

If you decide to stay in Sultanhamet, there are other options of interesting things to see. The basilica cistern does not take much time and the archaeology museum is top notch. Unfortunately, you will not have time for the Topokopi Palace which is top site after the Aya Sophia. If you want to shop, there is a little tourist bazaar to the southeast of the Blue Mosque (Arasta) and a government rug shop nearby.

Down by the Galata Bridge, the Spice Bazaar is not too big and can be seen in a bungee visit of 15 minutes if you want to duck inside for a quick look and a photo. There is also a very nice mosque to the northwest of the Spice Bazaar (Rustem Pasha Mosque) that is worth a quick visit (note that this is not the Yeni Mosque which is right next to the Spice Bazaar). On the other site of the Galata Bridge is a nice fish market that is worth a quick visit. There are plenty of restuarants on and near the bridge for late lunch/early dinner options.

Have fun!

Posted by
11613 posts

I recall a restaurant right at the wall at the Topkapi museum site - it's a short flight of stairs and the views are beautiful.

Another spot, if you can fit it in, is the Underground Cistern (basilica cistern mentioned above).

Posted by
101 posts

Yes, there is a lovely restaurant with fabulous views within Topkapi Palace. It is open only for lunch.