The first day of January in Istanbul has a lot to offer, since almost all of the tourist attractions are open on New Year’s Day. From museums to aquariums to entertaining shows, short queues await those willing to venture out after the big party night.
Below you’ll find many things to do on New Year’s that will keep you busy from morning till night.
This is the breakfast of champions in Istanbul, so it makes perfect sense to kick off the new year with a mouth-watering meal. Most outdoor cafes, terraces, and rooftop restaurants in the city will be open, and more than happy to serve up your first Turkish breakfast of 2021.
After breakfast, it’s time to start the day on a relaxing note in one of the best historical Turkish baths. The history of hamams in Istanbul dates back to the 15th century and the conquering of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire. This uniquely authentic experience will relax your muscles, refreshes your body, and have you all set to take on 2021 with ease. If you’ve never visited one before, read up on what to expect when visiting a Turkish hamam in Istanbul.
Now that we’ve spent most of the morning relaxing, let’s not waste any more time waiting for restaurant food to be served for lunch. You can easily sample the street food of Istanbul, and enjoy mouthwatering foods of all different flavors just by walking around.
This is not only a cheap option, but a delicious one at that. From pide and kebaps to balik ekmek and icli kofte there will be lots of option for you to choose from., Even if you not too hungry yet, a bit of a tasty simit or some roasted corn and chestnuts might stir up your appetite.
Since New Year’s Day is more of a tourist holiday than a national holiday in Turkey, almost everything will be open. In fact, you’ll probably get free skip-the-line access at most locations, since the museum queues will be very small compared to other days of the year.
With the convenience of the hop on hop off city bus services, you can spend the afternoon moving from one place to another quickly. Just enjoy the city sights, get to know a few more streets of Istanbul. Note that it is economical to use the bus as compared to possibly getting scammed by a taxi.
Istanbul is host to more than 200 modern shopping centers. January sales also begin on New Year’s Day, so visit a few designer shops found in the top shopping malls of Istanbul or alongside popular shopping streets and squares of Istanbul.
Rhythm of the Dance
The rhythm dances showcase the history of traditional Turkish folklore in a very exciting style. The unique costumes have carnival-worthy glitter, and when combined with their unique traditional music make for a special show.
You can buy tickets at the famous Hodjapasha Cultural Center in Sirkeci, which was once a 550 years old Ottoman bathhouse, now turned into an entertainment theater.
The sema ceremony is a sacred religious dance of the Whirling Dervishes who are followers of the great poet, Rumi. The best performances take place at the Hodjapasha Culture Center in Sirkeci, Eminonu, with tickets selling out quickly on holidays, but the several other dervishes venues to choose from should they be sold out.
After the show, why not enjoy your evening dining over the lights of Istanbul. The best terrace and rooftop restaurants in the city offer panoramic views of the Bosphorus. Some great options include Ulus 29, Sunset, Banyan, Spago, 360 Istanbul, and Ruby.
If you still got something left in the tank and want to party again until the daylight, the nightlife in Istanbul forever awaits. If your New Year’s Eve party was on the European side, we would suggest you then visit the Asian side the next day. The nightlife in Uksudar is always a treat and so much different from that found across the Bosphorus.