I had a brief 7.5 hour layover, so of course I didn’t want to just sit at the airport. $30 for a visa and a taxi to the center later, I am able to enjoy a clean and beautiful Istanbul.

Four unmissable sites for a full day trip in Istanbul:

Walk inside the blue mosque (barefoot).

The Basilica Cistern: so dark, eerie and a welcome respite from the heat.

Hagia Sophia: said to have changed the history of architecture as the world’s largest cathedral until 1520.

Topkapi Palace: the Sultan’s colorful harams were one filled with over 800 concubines. Steep yourself in the rich and opulent history and admire the hand-painted, intricate blues of the Iznik tiles, all built by Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century.

Top the day off with a delicious meal at Kayiki restaurant- traditional adana kebab, with Baklava and honey tea on the house to finish off with a sweet memory.