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3 Days In Istanbul Itinerary

Istanbul, or Constantinople because it was as soon as famously named, was the traditional capital of the Roman and Ottoman Empires. It was known as Basileousia, or “Queen of Cities” and even right now, it’s simple to see why.

3 days in Istanbul is simply sufficient time to see this vibrant and bustling metropolis is a large metropolis that spans two continents; Asia and Europe. Because the capital of the Roman and Ottoman Empire, you possibly can look forward to finding a plethora of historic and interesting sights, from the long-lasting Blue Mosque, the traditional Hagia Sophia, the world’s oldest and largest coated market, The Grand Bazaar, and the underground cisterns. On this Istanbul itinerary, you’ll see all of those high sights and extra whenever you go to this superb metropolis.

The Good 3 Days in Istanbul Itinerary

In case you solely have three days in Istanbul however need to take advantage of out of your go to, don’t fret. On this three-day Istanbul itinerary, you’ll be capable to discover all the key sights that make this nice metropolis so magical. We enlisted the assistance of The Turkey Traveler, the #1 journey weblog on all issues Turkey-related. Providing insider ideas, suggestions, and guides, The Turkey Traveler is your final useful resource that will help you plan the proper journey whenever you go to Istanbul Turkey.

So, whenever you’re prepared for the proper Istanbul Itinerary? Let’s get began…

  • Day 1 in Istanbul – Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet Sq., Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, a Sundown Bosphorus Cruise
  • Day 2 in Istanbul – Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Lunch At Eminonu, Galata Bridge, Galata Tower, Istiklal Road and Taksim
  • Day 3 in Istanbul – Turkish Tub (Hammam), Kadikoy, Camlica Mosque, Uskudar

An effective way to discover Istanbul is to buy an Istanbul Card. It’s legitimate for 7 days from the primary interplay and contains skip-the-line tickets to Istanbul’s high sights. It additionally contains 10 rides for public transportation and vouchers to Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, and a Bosphorus Cruise.

Day 1 – Sultanahmet – Historic Heart

There isn’t any higher solution to begin exploring Istanbul than leaping straight into its historic middle – Sultanahmet. It’s residence to a few of the most iconic historic landmarks in Turkey – from the Hagia Sophia to the Blue Mosque. No itinerary is full with out a go to to this neighborhood.


After having fun with a conventional Turkish breakfast, you’ll have loads of power to discover the outdated metropolis. Higher often called Kahvalti, a Turkish breakfast consists of cured meats and dips, recent cheeses, egg, and recent breads together with a Turkish bagel. After the savory you’ll get pleasure from pastries, honey, and jams.

Hagia Sophia

3 days in istanbul itinerary hagia sophia

Probably the most well-known landmark in Istanbul is arguably Hagia Sophia, one of many oldest buildings in Istanbul. 

Actually, the constructing was inbuilt 537, at a time when there was no Istanbul. When it was constructed, Istanbul was Constantinople, a reputation given to town by the Byzantine Empire. For 1,100 years, Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. And it wasn’t till 1453 did the Ottoman Empire conquer it and named it Istanbul.

That’s the reason Hagia Sophia was initially a Catholic Cathedral. As soon as town was seized by the Ottomans, it was changed into one of the crucial important mosques within the metropolis.

In 1934, the mosque was transformed right into a museum by the federal government. In 2020, the Hagia Sophia grew to become a functioning mosque once more, a lot to the delight of the Turkish individuals.

The Hagia Sophia has 4 minarets, which signifies that the mosque was constructed by the sultan. Its exterior is attractive with hints of crimson and gold, however the inside will amaze you even additional. It has huge marble slabs and a 32-meter primary dome that exudes nothing however opulence.

  • Opening Hours: April to October: 9am to 7 pm day by day November to March – 9am to 6pm. (closed on Mondays)
  • Free entry to Hagia Sophia with museum cross or 72TL if paying on the entrance.
  • Tram cease – Sultanahmet

The Blue Mosque

Best Things to do in Istanbul Blue Mosque

Simply minutes away from the historic Hagia Sophia is one other one in every of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks – The Blue Mosque also referred to as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. Although the Blue Mosque would possibly look extra spectacular than the Hagia Sophia, particularly with its unintended 6 minarets, the Blue Mosque was solely constructed round 400 years in the past.

Components of the Grand Palace of Constantinople have been destroyed to construct The Blue Mosque. There isn’t plenty of historical past to The Blue Mosque, besides that it was constructed by Sultan Ahmed I to spice up the morale of the Turkish individuals after the Fifteen Years’ Struggle.

From the outside, you would possibly surprise how The Blue Mosque received its identify. None of its exterior is blue. Guests will perceive as soon as they step inside this non secular landmark how the mosque received its identify. 

The dome of the mosque is roofed with ornamental blue ceramic tiles that characteristic conventional Ottoman patterns. Together with the Islamic-style ornaments that dot this huge constructing, the Blue Mosque is solely an architectural masterpiece. 

Although it won’t be as historic as Hagia Sophia, its charming decor goes to make you fall in love!

Sultanahmet Sq.

istanbl itinerary 3 days sultanahment square

After visiting the 2 most iconic mosques in Istanbul, stroll round Sultanahmet Sq.. That is the park that connects each The Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque, nevertheless it has rather more to supply guests.

Take a look at the Obelisk of Theodosius, an Egyptian obelisk that was re-erected right here within the 4th century AD. 

The park is crammed with adorned fountains constructed in the course of the Ottoman interval. They served as ingesting water for vacationers and a spot the place Muslims might purify themselves earlier than getting into a mosque to hope.

Earlier than the Ottomans took over Istanbul, Sultanahmet Sq. was a Hippodrome, an historic Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing. That’s the reason you would possibly discover the odd form of the park. 

Earlier than you head off to the following cease of our 3-day Istanbul itinerary, think about what it was like again then!

See if you’ll find a spot that sells Turkish Ice Cream, in any other case known as dondurma. The Turkish ice cream right here comes with slightly efficiency whenever you purchase it, and that alone is value each penny (or Lira)!


Basilica Cistern

3 days in istanbul itinerary basilica cistern

Minutes away from Sultanahmet Sq. is likely one of the most important buildings for the day-to-day lifetime of the Byzantine Empire – the Basilica Cistern. Inbuilt 532 by Emperor Justinian, the Basilica Cistern is the most important of the a whole bunch of cisterns that exist beneath Istanbul. 

Many of those cisterns have collapsed over time, however due to the Basilica Cistern’s 336 columns and plenty of repairs, the cistern is open to guests. Many of the columns got here from salvaged temples and guests can nonetheless see the carvings on lots of them.

The cisterns have been an underground reservoir water system that was designed to carry giant portions of water and gather rainwater. This water is then provided to all the metropolis so that everybody can have clear water to make use of. It’s one of the crucial unbelievable historic Greek applied sciences. This tour gives skip the ticket traces to enter the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, and Basilica Cistern with an area host.

  • Opening Hours: Wednesday-Monday: 9 am to 7pm (from November to march 9 am to 5pm) Closed on Tuesdays.
  • Value: 72 TL (be aware this doesn’t embody the Harem) To ebook the Harem, it’s one other 42 TL)

Topkapi Palace

3 days in istanbul itinerary topkapi palace

Topkapi Palace was inbuilt 1460 after the conquest of Constantinople to function the house and administrative constructing for the Ottoman sultans. It took a complete of 18 years to finish.

The grandeur of the Topkapi Palace is simple, nevertheless it wasn’t sufficient for the Ottoman sultans. Beginning within the seventeenth century, the sultans began to choose spending their time of their palaces alongside the Bosphorus Strait.

Within the mid-Nineteenth century, Topkapi Palace was now not in use and was changed into a museum. Inside, guests will discover tons of reveals on Turkish historical past, giant courtyards, and exquisite gardens.

However maybe essentially the most well-known part of the Topkapi Palace Museum is the Harem, a non-public quarter the place the feminine members of the sultan’s household lived. The tiling contained in the Harem is equally beautiful, if not, extra beautiful than those within the Blue Mosque.

Together with the stained glass home windows and complicated patterns all through the entire inside, the Harem is nothing lower than breathtaking. Get a skip the road ticket that features a guided tour of the Viewers Corridor, Excessive Courtroom, Historic Kitchens, and The Treasury.


Sundown Bosphorus Cruise

Cruise on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey

No Istanbul itinerary is full with out having fun with a Bosphorus sundown cruise. The cruise departs from the Golden Horn and cruises across the Bosphorus Strait, one of the crucial traditionally essential our bodies of water.

Right this moment, the Bosphorus Strait acts because the boundary between Europe and Asia, so company technically get a tour of two continents!

All Bosphorus sundown cruises will showcase a few of the most essential buildings alongside the Bosphorus Strait, such because the Dolmabahce Palace and Maiden’s Tower. Visitors may go beneath the spectacular Bosphorus Bridge that connects Istanbul’s European aspect and Asian sides.

Relying on the kind of cruise you’ve chosen, there is perhaps meals and leisure on board. We advocate choosing an expensive Bosphorus dinner cruise, so you possibly can have the prospect to pattern conventional Turkish meals like meze and raki, in addition to expertise cultural dance just like the Whirling Dervishes whereas sipping on Turkish espresso.

We took a yacht cruise to absorb the sights, and this cruise takes you on a 2.5-hour boat cruise of the Bosphorus Strait to see Istanbul’s high sights together with Galata Tower and the Dolmabahçe Palace, each the Asian and European Coasts the Küçüksu Palace which was the searching lodge of the Ottoman Empire.

Day 2 – Sultanahmet and Taksim

You’ll be strolling quite a bit on the second day of our 3-day Istanbul itinerary, so be sure you put on one thing snug right now! On the second day, you’ll end exploring the sight in Sultanahmet and head throughout the Galata Bridge into Taksim, the so-called fashionable middle of Istanbul.


Grand Bazaar

3 days in istanbul itinerary grand bazaar

Begin your second day in Istanbul with one of many oldest and largest coated markets on the earth – Grand Bazaar. It has an estimated whole of 61 streets and over 4000 outlets, that means that guests can spend a whole day right here and doubtless not see the whole lot.

An interesting truth about Grand Bazaar  – it’s thought-about the primary shopping center on the earth, which makes it the proper place to buy some souvenirs! 

You could find a wide range of stuff right here – from low cost counterfeits to antiques. However if you’re in search of one thing to recollect your journey by, then we advocate getting a pleasant Turkish rug, a Turkish lantern, or a nazar amulet.

If you end up drained from strolling up and down the streets, chill out in one of many native tea outlets. Have a pleasant Turkish Tea (çay in Turkish) and an area snack earlier than you proceed.

In case you determine to buy one thing (which you completely ought to), don’t overlook to barter! The Turkish are excellent salesmen and you’ll pay much more than what the merchandise is value!

  • Hours: 10 am to 6pm
  • Tram Cease – Beyazit Kapaliçarsi

Spice Bazaar

3 days in istanbul itinerary spice bazaar

Situated a couple of minutes from the Grand Bazaar is the Spice Market. Not like the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar is somewhat small. There are solely two streets, and so they type the letter L.

Constructed within the seventeenth Century, the Spice Bazaar is far newer than the Grand Bazaar and guests can instantly inform by the second they stroll in. It’s rather more modern-looking and chic than the Grand Bazaar.

However maybe essentially the most hanging characteristic of the Spice Bazaar is the scent. Whenever you go in, your scent is straight away overwhelmed by the completely different spices. A mixture of sweat, tea, spices, and herbs create a singular scent that’s iconic to the Spice Market. If you wish to buy Turkish tea, the Spice Bazaar is a good place to take action. 

  • Hours: 10 am to 6pm
  • Tram Cease – Beyazit – Kapaliçarsi


Lunch At Eminonu

3 days in istanbul itinerary lunch where to eat

Upon getting completed your procuring spree in these bazaars, it’s time to pattern some native meals. Fortunately, Eminonu, the neighborhood the place the Spice Bazaar is positioned, is the proper place to take action.

This bustling neighborhood is a good place to pattern Turkish meals. Not like eating places in Sultanahmet which can be focused towards vacationers, the eating places right here entice locals due to their inexpensive costs and easy Turkish flavors. 

The easiest way to expertise Eminonu is to stroll round and see what you want. Our favourite restaurant in Eminonu is Sehzade Cag Kebap. Its lamb sis kebap is so wealthy in taste and melts in your mouth!

Galata Bridge

3 days in istanbul itinerary galata bridge

After a hearty lunch, it’s time to proceed exploring Istanbul. Head over to the Galata Bridge, which connects the historic middle of Istanbul with its fashionable middle. The bridge spans throughout the Golden Horn, an iconic physique of water and one of the crucial widespread spots for fishing. 

It isn’t unusual to see native fishermen lined up from one aspect of the bridge all the way in which to the opposite.

All of the fishermen carry forth a ton of seagulls. Mixed with the multitude of pedestrians and boats coming from out and in, strolling throughout Galata Bridge is an iconic second. Although solely 490 meters lengthy, it will possibly take a little bit of time to get throughout!

Galata Tower

3 days in istanbul itinerary galata tower

Maybe essentially the most well-known attraction within the fashionable middle of Istanbul is Galata Tower within the Beyo?lu District. The tower was inbuilt 1348 beneath the rule of the Byzantine Empire. At 63 meters above the bottom, it was the tallest tower again then and served as a part of Constantinople’s fortification.

These days, the Galata Tower is likely one of the finest locations in Istanbul for panoramic views of town. From the balcony, you possibly can see Sultanahmet, Golden Horn, Bosphorus Strait,  and even the Asian aspect of Istanbul on a superb day.

In addition to admiring the spectacular views, be sure you discover the reveals that element the historical past of the Galata Tower. This tower was an essential a part of each the Byzantine and Ottoman Empire’s historical past.

  • Opening Hours of Galata Tower: 9 am to 7 pm
  • Value: 35 TL


Istiklal Road and Taksim

istiklal street istanbul itinerary

The final exercise on the second day of our 3 days in Istanbul itinerary is to discover Istiklal Road and the Taksim neighborhood.

Istiklal Road is a 1.4-kilometer (0.87-mile) pedestrian-only road in Istanbul that’s at all times bustling. House to quite a few eating places, stylish bars, and stylish cafes, you possibly can spend hours right here and never see a few of the finest issues it has to supply.

Right here you’ll discover the historic Istiklal tram that covers half the span of Istiklal Road. Although it is perhaps tempting to get on it and save your self a while, the tram might be slower than strolling due to all of the pedestrian site visitors!

The easiest way to see Istiklal Road is to simply stroll round and go into any outlets that may fancy you. Don’t miss the dessert outlets and the prospect to check out baklava, the nationwide dessert of 

Turkey. There are various flavors to it however you possibly can’t go mistaken with the unique pistachio taste.

As you stroll up Istiklal Road, you’ll finally end up in Taksim Sq.. Many individuals contemplate Taksim Sq. to be the center of contemporary Istanbul, and also you’ll actually see much more worldwide manufacturers corresponding to Mcdonald’s, Burger King, Marriott, and the likes right here.

istanbul itinerary 3 days kebabs

On the western aspect of Taksim Sq. (close to the doorway of Istiklal Road) are a number of doner kebabs outlets. In case you haven’t gotten the prospect to attempt them but, that is the place to go. Simply count on an extended queue and plenty of hungry individuals shoving round!

Earlier than you allow, get pleasure from a pleasant dinner at one of many rooftop eating places close to Taksim. Our favourite is 360 Istanbul, and it has earned its identify for the 360-degree views its penthouse gives. 360 Istanbul normally turns into a pleasant nightlife venue later within the night time. 

If you wish to try the nightlife in Istanbul, it is a great spot to take action. In any other case, there are quite a few choices alongside Istiklal road!

An excellent journey tip is to get an Istanbul Museum Move to skip the road to widespread museums like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Harem, Nice Palace Mosaics and extra widespread museums in Istanbul with the guided tour app. Take a look at this cross right here.

Day 3 – Asian Aspect Of Istanbul

Our final day in Istanbul covers the Asian aspect of Istanbul and in addition gives one thing slightly extra enjoyable. 


Turkish Tub (Hammam)

spa etiquette tips
Dave’s prepared for his Hammam

After an extended day of strolling round Istanbul, I believe it’s time to chill out. Fortunately, there may be the proper place in Istanbul to take action – a Turkish Tub, or Hammam in Turkish.

Turkish Baths have been an essential a part of Islamic tradition, serving as a spot the place guests can cleanse themselves earlier than getting into a mosque, and a spot the place company can socialize.

These days, a Turkish Tub is extra of a calming expertise the place company can come out fully refreshed and one of many finest issues to do in Istanbul.

There are many Hammams in Istanbul, however we advocate Ca?alo?lu Hammam. Inbuilt 1741, it is likely one of the final baths constructed beneath the Ottoman Empire. The inside of the Ca?alo?lu Hammam is attractive and appears like a museum of its personal.

With regards to experiencing a Turkish Tub, there are a lot of packages to select from. Relying on the way you need to be pampered, you possibly can select one thing that’s extra complete or one thing shorter.

Earlier than you go, be sure you try the completely different packages Ca?alo?lu Hammam gives on their official website!



istanbul itinerary three days european side

Now that you just’ve skilled the principle sights on Istanbul’s European aspect, it’s time to head over to the Asian aspect. The Asian aspect is understood for its unbelievable meals and extra laid-back way of life. With loads of residential areas, it is likely one of the finest locations to remain in Istanbul for households.

Our first cease on the Asian aspect is Kadikoy, a neighborhood identified for its inexpensive eating places with genuine flavors. Seafood is a specialty on the Asian aspect, so don’t miss out on the prospect to attempt some stuffed mussels and fish sandwiches!

Head in the direction of the sub-neighborhood of Moda, the place you’ll find a promenade alongside the Bosphorus Strait. Go for a brief stroll and take within the spectacular views and refreshing sea air earlier than heading to your subsequent vacation spot! 

Camlica Mosque

3 days in istanbul itinerary camlica mosque

Inbuilt 2019, the Camlica Mosque is a brand new attraction you don’t usually discover in any guidebooks. However if you’re following our Istanbul itinerary, you’ll not miss out on this hidden gem.

The Camlica Mosque is the most important mosque in all of Turkey and its fashionable development makes it a spectacular landmark. In addition to being a mosque, it options an artwork gallery, a library, and a museum.

Every thing within the Camlica Mosque simply speaks of luxurious and opulence.

Don’t miss out on the large courtyard that boasts spectacular views of the Bosphorus Bridge. Perched on high of a hill, the views from there are beautiful. The Camlica Mosque is located in Camlica Park, an enormous inexperienced house that’s widespread for households to benefit from the outside. 

If you’re nonetheless early within the afternoon, spend a while strolling round. You’ll be glad about some recent air after the previous 2 days on the European Aspect.



3 days in istanbul itineray Uskudar

After you might be finished exploring the Camlica Mosque and its huge grounds, head over to the quaint neighborhood of Uskudar on the Asian Aspect. This neighborhood is understood for its bustling fish markets and a long-stretching promenade with tons of cozy cafes.

Going through west, the shores of this seaside neighborhood is likely one of the finest locations to catch the sundown in Istanbul. However what makes Uskudar much more beautiful is the historic Maiden’s Tower that sits just some hundred meters off the shore.

On the proper spot, the solar units behind this Byzantine-era fortification and its silhouette is simply spectacular.

After the solar units, stroll across the neighborhood and discover a seafood restaurant with a view for dinner!

The place to Keep in Istanbul

  • Swissotel The Bosphorus – This five-star luxurious resort proper is within the centre of Istanbul on the European banks of the Bosphorus. It’s a excellent location for exploring Istanbul with a rooftop pool and free WiFi. Take a look at Availability & Costs at Advisor
  • Sura Hagia Sophia – Situated in Sultanahmet, this 5-star resort is completely located to all the principle sights. The resort additionally gives a well-designed backyard with a gorgeous pool space and Free Glad Hour. Take a look at Availability & Advisor
  • Elite World Europe Lodge – Located near the airport, this newly-opened resort gives luxurious at finances costs. Good for a layover or to keep away from Istanbul site visitors when you’ve got a flight leaving within the early morning hours. Take a look at Availability & Costs Advisor

Ideas For Visiting Istanbul

turkish delight in istanbul
Make certain to attempt Turkish Espresso and Turkish Delight
  • Deliver snug footwear – Istanbul is a metropolis that’s finest found on foot. The town has a nickname of “Metropolis on the Seven Hills”, so be sure you carry some snug footwear to stroll across the metropolis!
  • Costume conservatively – Although Turkey is barely extra liberal than most Muslim nations, it’s nonetheless a Muslim nation. Be sure you received’t put on one thing too revealing. For the mosques, males can not put on tank tops and their pants should cowl their knees. Hats are additionally not allowed. Girls should cowl their heads, shoulders, and knees. You’ll have to put on a shawl to cowl your head earlier than you enter.
  • Be Conscious of the Prayer Instances – In case you plan on visiting the mosques, be sure you try the prayer occasions. Guests will not be welcome throughout this time.
  • Get an Istanbulkart – The Istanbulkart is a necessity when utilizing Istanbul’s transportation system. It’s a sensible contactless card that’s used to pay the fare. You may get one from most main public transportation stations.
  • You may additionally like: Etiquette within the Center East- Journey for Males and Girls

To get to and from the airport, we (Dave and Deb) took Their providers have been skilled and pleasant! It was good to have an indication with our identify on it ready for us after we landed on the hectic airport.



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