Most people see layovers as a waste of time and energy, and hardly accept one just because it’s cheaper, I see layovers as an opportunity to see a new city/ country even if only for couple of hours, more than this, sometimes I’d choose a longer layover simply because it let’s you go out there and explore.
So let’s explore today a layover of 8+ hours in Istanbul, which might be a frequent thing for everyone who traveled with Turkish Airlines, as their hub airport is Ataturk International Airport, and most of the layover you get with them are in Istanbul.
It is widely known that Turkish Airlines is one of the very few, who in case of a layover longer than 6 hours during the day can provide you with a free guided tour around the main historical areas of Istanbul, or if the layover is during night, they will give you a hotel room, but we are talking about exploring Istanbul on your own and all the affiliated expenses.
First thing you need to know, is that to leave the airport you need a visa, and it will cost you 20$ to get it at the customs.
For getting to the city center which is Sultanahmet, you need one hour and metro/tram or some private carrier, the price for a taxi can go up to 20$ one way, but it might be really worth it for you comfort or if you are more people travelling together.
The first thing to visit will be definitely, Sultanahmet District.
it used to be the cultural center of Constantinople and it is basically the historical center of nowadays’ Istanbul and the area you are going to walk around.
Aya Sophia Museum.
Though it was initially built as a Basilica, in the VI-th century, but after Constantinople was conquered in the XV-th, it was converted into a mosque and now it’s a museum.
For history lovers, there’s an important remark, Sophia in Greek means wisdom, and this name was given to the Basilica as a symbol of divine wisdom.
The Blue Mosque, is considered the gem and the one symbol of the city. Its hemidomes and the big dome has been adorned with dominantly blue hand-drawings. Therefore it is also called the Blue mosque. It is the only mosque in Turkey with 6 minarets.
Topkapi Palace is the place that used to be th administrative headquarters during the Ottoman period of the country, it contains the 600 years old history of the Ottoman Empire.
Fun fact: at one time in history it used to host over 4000 people permanently living here.
The Grand Bazaar is not only the biggest one in Istanbul or even Turkey, it’s as well the oldest and biggest in the whole world, so if you want some bargaining and traditional vibe, go to check it out, but be careful, it’s very crowded and packed with tourists lot of times. Many of the shops are inside and it literally looks like a separate world.
For your notice, the Bazaar is closed on Sundays.
After checking those magical places, rush to the airport to catch your next adventures!