If you’ve got a long weekend in Istanbul, here’s a suggested itinerary for elementary aged kids. Younger and Older would certainly enjoy it too with a few adaptations.
To read details about any of these places, go to my collection of Istanbul posts.
Friday night-late arrival after work/school. Prompt bed to be ready for a day of sightseeing! I suggest staying near the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya, in or near the Sultanahmet neighborhood.
Saturday-Sultanahmet and the Surrounding area:
Hippodrome and the outside of the Blue Mosque (unless renovations are done, then go inside)
Aya Sofya (Hagia Sofia)
Theodosius Cistern (or Basilica Cistern if renovations are done)-shows are on the hour, so time it appropriately. Entry starts about 15 mins before.
Rüstem Paşa Mosque (beautiful blue tiles and replaces the Blue Mosque as a stop)
Egyptian Spice Market/Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı)
Dinner suggestion-it’s worth finding a roof top restaurant for dinner! We loved the 360 Panorama restaurant that overlooked the Aya Sofya and Blue Mosque. It’s especially nice if the weather is warm enough to sit outside.
Sunday-Across the Galata Bridge
Walk through a quiet Egyptian Spice Market, a very different view than a Saturday late afternoon
Cross the Galata Bridge
Grab a taxi to Dolmabahçe Palace (this one and Topkapi Palace are fairly similar, so when short on time, just do one. It gets crowded, so going early to beat crowds is useful. It opens at 9. You could walk, but the road doesn’t have much to see and it a main road.)
Taksim Square (lots of restaurants near here and on İstiklal Cd)
Walk down İstiklal Cd and do some shopping
Galata Mevlevihanesi Müzesi (Whirling Dervish Lodge and Museum)
Galata Tower-great views of the city
Boat ride along the Bosphorus (or do it for breakfast Monday morning)-these are often best pre-booked, particularly on a weekend. It’s worth stopping by on Saturday to book when you’re at the Egyptian Spice Market.
Options vary depending on departure time. They could include:
Fatih Mosque (stop at Fatih Park to play on the playgrounds)
Jennifer’s Hamam linens (great Turkish cotton products)
Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam
Istanbul Archaeological Museums
Gülhane Park and playground
Getting samples at the Egyptian Spice Market and making last minute purchases. This was my kids’ favorite stop and we went multiple times over our trip!