For travellers, Mondays are notorious for many reasons. First off, while the whole city tries to adapt to the new week, the ambience may not be all fun and games. Secondly, most of the museum and main touristic attractions are closed on Mondays. However, one can look on the bright side. In a crowded city like Istanbul, Mondays can create an opportunity to go around in a more tranquil manner. Besides, you can always enjoy the alternative things without having a guilty conscious about missing the main attractions.
So, our answer to “what to do in Istanbul on Monday” is a gastronomy tour! Check out the route we created that combines local culture, breathtaking panoramas, some of the major attractions that are open on Mondays (like Topkapı Palace), and discover Istanbul’s must-have foods while enjoying the city.
First things first… Let’s have a quick look at what is open and what is closed on a Monday in Istanbul:
· Main museums closed on Monday: Hagia Sophia, Archeology Museum, Museum Of Turkish And Islamic Art, Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, Naval Museum
· Museums open on Monday: Topkapı Palace, Blue Mosque, Great Palace Mosaics Museum, Chora Museum, Galata Tower, Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar
Now, let’s start the gastronomy tour! Have a light dinner on Sunday and a nice, cozy sleep. You will need strong legs, a dedicated stomach and an open mind to enjoy all these wonders.
Morning – Breakfast
Target point: Beyoglu, Cihangir, Istiklal Street
Food suggestion: Turkish breakfast
The adventure starts at Beyoğlu. Since you will see many gorgeous views of the city all day long, morning may be a great way to discover the side streets of Cihangir, a neighbourhood where most of the artists and musicians live.
Our first recommendation for a good breakfast is Kahve Altı. Being one of the oldest cafes in the Cihangir area, its success comes from its delicious food and peaceful environment. This hide-away place serves great breakfast that includes local tastes and recipes with quality ingredients.
Journey is another option. The beautifully designed place and the regular customers give the hints of what the creative high-class of Istanbul look like. Here, you can also have popular global tastes like pancakes, avocado toasts and omelets as well as original breakfast menus enriched by unique Turkish touches.
After the breakfast, walking up the hilly roads to Istiklal Street could be a great choice. Istiklal Street in the morning hours is just perfect while not so many tourists are around so you can actually experience the physical beauty of the place.
Try to finish your walk on the Tunel end of Istiklal Street so that you can take the subway directly to your second stop, the heart of historical peninsula. One last tip: Don’t forget to look around when the subway passes across the Golden Horn and see the beauty of the city under morning light.
Noon – Snack time
Target point: Beyazıt, Topkapı Palace, Blue Mosque
Food suggestion: Simit and ayran
Your stop is Vezneciler. When you leave the subway, head to the direction of Istanbul University. Walking by the entrance of Grand Bazaar, you will reach to one of the oldest squares of Istanbul, Beyazıt Square. Go on walking to end up at Sultanahmet Square to enter the Topkapı Palace.
If you will visit Topkapı Palace, we highly recommend you to buy your tickets online to avoid ques. And don’t forget that you will need at least 3 hours for this spot. If you don’t have enough time, you can also have a look at Blue Mosque, another fascinating monument in Istanbul. So, whatever your choice is, you might need to refresh your energy with some traditional Istanbul snack – simit and ayran. You can buy both from the street sellers with push-cars.
Afternoon – Late lunch
Target point – Sultanahmet Square, Gülhane Park, Spice Bazaar
Food suggestion: Sultanahmet köfte (meatballs) and Turkish delights
After getting full with history and glory, you will feel the hunger again! If you are at Sultanahmet, Sultanahmet Köftecisi is a must-visit place. These specially cooked meatballs are very popular among the locals and it is kind of a tradition to eat these meatballs during a visit around Sultanahmet.
Afterwards, It is time to walk some more! Just follow the tram road down the hill. While walking, you will see the giant walls of Gülhane Park. You may want to have a look at this beautiful park, pet some cats, see the centuries old trees, and imagine the times when the sultans spent their times in here resting.
Now it is time to visit a magical place: Spice Bazaar! Whatever you eat in Istanbul, its taste probably comes from delicious spices. Spices in Turkish cuisine are extremely important and you can discover any type of spice in this 350 year old impressive building. We have told what to buy at Istanbul Spice Bazaar in our Spice Bazaar Shopping Guide in detail. One of the shops that you should not miss is Hayfene. Here, our staff will tell you all the things you wonder about the wonderland of spices, herbs, dried nuts and fruits, and of course Turkish delights. Don’t be shy to try the Turkish delights and decide which ones to buy. Trying the samples is a part of Turkish style shopping J
Evening – Dinner
Target Point – Eminönü, Bosporus (Kuzguncuk or Arnavutköy)
Food suggestion: Fish and rakı (and then perhaps some coctails!)
Now, it is time to relax and have a good dinner! The concept of the evening is “sea”, which means you will go there by a ferry and eat the generous tastes of Marmara Sea.
Check the city sea lines’ timetables and take a ferry to the Bosporus from Eminönü. It is a perfect way of transportation since you will skip all the traffic jam of commuters. Besides, you will be able to see the impressive views of the bridges, the old mansions by the sea, ancient woods and many more.
You can choose to get off the ferry in many different stops, which all were once tiny seaside villages of Istanbul but now beautiful and mostly luxury residential areas.
Our Asian side choice would be Kuzguncuk, which is a very old and cute neighbourhood, with artisanal shops and a bohemian atmosphere, and a historically diverse background that Jews, Christians and Muslims created together. Here, a classic stop to have fresh fish and delicious mezes is İsmet Baba. Being a traditional meyhane, İsmet Baba is usually off the typical touristic routes but a unique address for locals.
If you would like to be on the European side, try Arnavutköy. One the villages where the wealthy and powerful families of the late Ottoman era lived, is now a very hip place for good food and late night parties. Here, you can take a walk around Ottoman art nouveau mansions, visit design shops and definitely eat good fish! Our suggestion for dinner is a modern, fancy restaurant with good food, Mira Balık.
If you choose to stay in Arnavutköy, you can continue the night with a late night cocktail and good music. Alexandra and Halet-I Ruhiye could be two good options to sip your cocktail and dance.
So, now you have some idea for what to do in Istanbul on Monday. Have a great time and enjoy your food!