48 HOURS IN ISTANBUL

Straddling the Bosphorus strait between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is etched with thousands of years of history, bearing the marks of the Ancient Greeks, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Turks, and Silk Road traders who’ve lived here over the centuries.
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1. Blue Mosque: The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii in Turkish) is definitely one of the places you have to see, regardless of how much time you have in the city. With its six minarets dominating the Istanbul skyline, this is one iconic structure that's hard to miss.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Blue Mosque 48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images - Matador Network

19. Balat: Colorful Balat is Istanbul’s traditional Jewish quarter. Its ice-cream-colored buildings hug hills so steep you almost feel like you're in San Francisco.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Balat: Colorful Balat is Istanbul’s traditional Jewish quarter. Its ice-cream-colored buildings hug hills so steep you almost feel like you're in San Francisco.

25. Spice Bazaar:  Another market in Istanbul that has to be checked out is the Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı in Turkish). Spices, sweets, nuts, and dried fruits can all be found here.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Spice Bazaar: Another market in Istanbul that has to be checked out is the Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı in Turkish). Spices, sweets, nuts, and dried fruits can all be found here.

11. An Istanbul street scene: The streets of Istanbul are a mixture of modern and old buildings, both of which offer tons of opportunities to buy delicious street food and local wares.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

An Istanbul street scene: The streets of Istanbul are a mixture of modern and old buildings, both of which offer tons of opportunities to buy delicious street food and local wares.

16. Sitting down for Turkish tea: An afternoon break for some Turkish tea is a must. Everywhere you go, you’ll find people sitting down to çay. In fact, Turkey has the highest annual per capita consumption of tea in the world.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Sitting down for Turkish tea: An afternoon break for some Turkish tea is a must. Everywhere you go, you’ll find people sitting down to çay. In fact, Turkey has the highest annual per capita consumption of tea in the world.

3. Basilica Cistern: Just down the road from the Blue Mosque is the Basilica Cistern, a “sunken palace” that lies beneath the surface of Istanbul’s streets. Originally built in the 3rd and 4th centuries as a commercial center, it was later repurposed as part of a water filtration system.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

ISTANBUL: Bascilica Cistern 48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images - Matador Network

13. Crossing the Bosphorus: Make sure your Istanbul bucket list includes crossing the Bosphorus for a trip over to the Karaköy district. This part of Istanbul is one of the city’s hottest areas, and it continues to grow with new shops, rooftop bars, and boutiques.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images - Matador Network

20. Colorful Balat: You had better be in shape to make your way up the streets of Balat. An up-and-coming design district, tours of the area were a main event at last fall’s Istanbul Design Biennial.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Colorful Balat: You had better be in shape to make your way up the streets of Balat. An up-and-coming design district, tours of the area were a main event at last fall’s Istanbul Design Biennial.

6. Inside the Hagia Sophia: A walk through the Hagia Sophia will leave you pretty close to breathless—the size, the details of the mosaics—it’s definitely got the feeling of a beautiful marriage between Eastern and Western design.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

15. Karaköy's trams: This photo shows a typical street scene in Karaköy. Home to the internationally renowned İstanbul Modern, Karaköy is also the place to go to get acquainted with the city's art scene.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Karaköy's trams: This photo shows a typical street scene in Karaköy. Home to the internationally renowned İstanbul Modern, Karaköy is also the place to go to get acquainted with the city's art scene.

12. Shopping in Istanbul:l The shopping in Istanbul is abundant; small shops and vendors greet you around every corner. From Ottoman antiques to the hip Turkish brand Mavi, it’s all here.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Shopping in Istanbul:l The shopping in Istanbul is abundant; small shops and vendors greet you around every corner. From Ottoman antiques to the hip Turkish brand Mavi, it’s all here.

5. Hagia Sophia: Another of Istanbul's most renowned and impressive structures, the Hagia Sophia was once a Christian church but was transformed to a mosque in the year 1453 under Sultan Mehmed II. Just a stone’s throw from the Blue Mosque, it pairs nicely with the latter to dominate the skyline of old Istanbul.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

4. The head of Medusa, Basilica Cistern: Within the cistern, you can also see a statue of the head of Medusa. It’s said that it’s upside down in order to cancel out the power of her stare...but then again, it’s also said that it was simply rotated to fit the space of the column above it. I guess you’ll just have to give Medusa a stare and decide for yourself.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Istanbul: Cistern Medusa hours in Istanbul, in 24 images - Matador Network

24. Grand Bazaar shoes:  Shoes of every hue can be bought here. Other popular buys at the Grand Bazaar include carpets and kilims (tapestry-woven rugs), leather goods, textiles, antiques, and jewelry.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Grand Bazaar shoes: Shoes of every hue can be bought here. Other popular buys at the Grand Bazaar include carpets and kilims (tapestry-woven rugs), leather goods, textiles, antiques, and jewelry.

21. Grand Bazaar: The Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world, is home to over 3,000 shops. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here...

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Grand Bazaar: The Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world, is home to over shops.

7. Deësis mosaic at the Hagia Sophia: Did I mention how beautiful the mosaics are? The Deësis is one of those incredible pieces you have to see. Dating to around 1261, it was commissioned to mark the return to the Orthodox faith.

48 hours in Istanbul, in 24 images

Deësis mosaic at the Hagia Sophia: Did I mention how beautiful the mosaics are? The Deësis is one of those incredible pieces you have to see. Dating to around it was commissioned to mark the return to the Orthodox faith.

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