Take a tram to Kabatas and then a cab to see the Dolmabahce Palace. I did not see it but it has been recommended. Then stop by the Ciragan Palace, now the Ciragan Palace Kempinski. I heard their Sunday Brunch is great. I did not eat there but enjoyed seeing the hotel and then walking to Ortakoy, which is an area with a great village feel, at the foot of the Bosphorus bridge. I enjoyed a fun lunch at the attractive House Café where they have both indoor and outdoor dining. They have burgers if you are tired of kebabs and lamb.
Then I visited the impressive mosque right on the water. It is one of the prettiest mosques I saw. Don’t miss this. To the left of the mosque is a boat pier from where I took a one hour Bosphorus cruise from the first bridge to the second bridge. This was a perfect trip since I was able to see palaces and beautiful homes along the way without taking the full day trip to the Black Sea. Stop for coffee or tea at one of the many cafes following the cruise.