How to spend your first weekend in Istanbul

From museums to parks to places to eat and shop, here’s the perfect itinerary for new arrivals in Istanbul and great things to do in the city…

Editorial Team

By Editorial Team

exploring istanbul

One of the world’s most magical cities, Istanbul is wonderful any time of year. Now that you’ve arrived, we want to help you explore. The city itself is vast, so we’ve suggested a manageable itinerary for your first weekend in your new home, including where to eat, shop, and even have an idyllic picnic.

All of Blueground’s furnished apartments in Europe, the Middle East, and North America are individually designed, with thoughtful touches like Bluetooth speakers and smart appliances. You’ll also get Wi-Fi, a fully equipped kitchen, and luxurious linens. Our high-design spaces have comfortable work-from-home setups to fuel your productivity.The best part of choosing to rent with Blueground is that you can spend your first days in town exploring, not shopping for a frying pan or a new shower curtain. Here are just some of our favorite things to do in Istanbul.

Friday: Dinner and a Movie

Now that you’ve arrived in Istanbul, it’s high time you tried some local cuisine. Many of the city’s best-loved restaurants have pivoted to offering takeout and delivery during the pandemic. Use your phone to have hot, fresh food delivered right to your Blueground apartment.

exploring istanbul

We recommend checking out Yemeksepeti Banabi, an app that lets you order both groceries and dishes from local restaurants. There’s no shortage of incredible cuisine on offfer. (or you could simply whip up a familiar favorite in your fully equipped kitchen.)

Next, get to know your new hometown on the small screen. Fire up your smart TV and stream the classic James Bond movie From Russia With Love. You’ll see the intrepid spy hunting his enemy all over the city, including in Istanbul’s world-famous Grand Bazaar. There’s also an exciting scene set in the Baslilica Cistern.

Saturday: A Picnic in the Park

You can’t take up residence in Istanbul without visiting the city’s Grand Bazaar. It’s every bit as vast as the pictures suggest, and the perfect place to stock up on ceramics, spices, and souvenirs. You can also find a great selection of prepared foods to snack on later in the afternoon.

yildiz park

Once you’ve filled up your (reusable, we hope!) bags with treasures, head to Istanbul’s Yıldız Park for a picnic. This tranquil 25-acre (just over 100,000 square-meter) greenspace is located in the Bestikas district. Overlooking the Bosphorous, the park is set on the former grounds of Yıldız Palace. After your picnic lunch, walk the park’s paths to discover flowers, plants, and trees from around the world.

Sunday: The Sultan’s Riches

Make yourself some coffee at home or drop into a cafe for a cup of hot, sweet Turkish coffee to fuel your day of sightseeing. Today’s adventure is a journey into the past: Topkapı Palace, located in Istanbul’s Fatih district, was the home of Ottoman sultans for hundreds of years.

exploring istanbul's topkapi palace

The palace was first established in 1459, six years after the conquest of Constantinople. Topkapı Palace is now a museum where tourists can tour the former royal home and marvel at some of its treasures. Exhibits feature everything from jewels to fine rugs to hand carved and embroidered furniture.

As one of Istanbul’s biggest attractions, Topkapı Palace can get crowded. Hedge your bets by getting tickets ahead of time, and visiting in the morning.

a blueground apartment in istanbul

Blueground wants all of our guests to feel at home from day one, whether they stay with us for a month or a year — or longer. Our turnkey apartments in Istanbul and our other global markets have everything our guests need to cater for themselves. Find out more about the Blueground experience.

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

The Blueground editorial team covers the best things to see, do, and experience in our cities around the world.