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 in the present day, 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 may anticipate finding a plethora of historic and interesting sights, from the enduring 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 prime sights and extra while you go to this superb metropolis.

The Good 3 Days in Istanbul Itinerary

When you solely have three days in Istanbul however wish 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 suggestions, suggestions, and guides, The Turkey Traveler is your final useful resource that can assist you plan the right journey while you go to Istanbul Turkey.

So, while you’re prepared for the right 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

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

Day 1 – Sultanahmet – Historic Middle

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


After having fun with a standard Turkish breakfast, you’ll have loads of power to discover the previous metropolis. Higher referred to as Kahvalti, a Turkish breakfast consists of cured meats and dips, contemporary cheeses, egg, and contemporary 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. 

In reality, 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 vital vital mosques within the metropolis.

In 1934, the mosque was transformed right into a museum by the federal government. In 2020, the Hagia Sophia turned 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 pink and gold, however the inside will amaze you even additional. It has huge marble slabs and a 32-meter principal dome that exudes nothing however opulence.

  • Opening Hours: April to October: 9am to 7 pm every day November to March – 9am to 6pm. (closed on Mondays)
  • Free entry to Hagia Sophia with museum move 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 all Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks – The Blue Mosque also referred to as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. Although the Blue Mosque may 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.

Elements of the Grand Palace of Constantinople have been destroyed to construct The Blue Mosque. There isn’t loads 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’ Conflict.

From the outside, you may surprise how The Blue Mosque received its title. None of its exterior is blue. Guests will perceive as soon as they step inside this spiritual landmark how the mosque received its title. 

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 just an architectural masterpiece. 

Although it may not 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, but it surely has way 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 throughout the Ottoman interval. They served as consuming water for vacationers and a spot the place Muslims may purify themselves earlier than getting into a mosque to hope.

Earlier than the Ottomans took over Istanbul, Sultanahmet Sq. was a Hippodrome, an historical Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing. That’s the reason you may 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 will discover a spot that sells Turkish Ice Cream, in any other case known as dondurma. The Turkish ice cream right here comes with a little bit efficiency while you purchase it, and that alone is price 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. In-built 532 by Emperor Justinian, the Basilica Cistern is the most important of the tons of of cisterns that exist beneath Istanbul. 

Many of those cisterns have collapsed over time, however because of 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 massive portions of water and gather rainwater. This water is then provided to the whole metropolis so that everybody can have clear water to make use of. It’s one of the vital unimaginable historical Greek applied sciences. This tour affords skip the ticket strains to enter the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, and Basilica Cistern with a neighborhood host.

  • Opening Hours: Wednesday-Monday: 9 am to 7pm (from November to march 9 am to 5pm) Closed on Tuesdays.
  • Price: 72 TL (word this doesn’t embrace the Harem) To e-book 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 plain, but it surely wasn’t sufficient for the Ottoman sultans. Beginning within the seventeenth century, the sultans began to favor spending their time of their palaces alongside the Bosphorus Strait.

Within the mid-Nineteenth century, Topkapi Palace was not in use and was changed into a museum. Inside, guests will discover tons of reveals on Turkish historical past, massive courtyards, and delightful 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 complex 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 Court docket, 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 vital traditionally necessary our bodies of water.

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

All Bosphorus sundown cruises will showcase a few of the most necessary buildings alongside the Bosphorus Strait, such because the Dolmabahce Palace and Maiden’s Tower. Company may also go below the spectacular Bosphorus Bridge that connects Istanbul’s European facet and Asian sides.

Relying on the kind of cruise you’ve chosen, there could be meals and leisure on board. We advocate deciding on an opulent Bosphorus dinner cruise, so you may 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 soak up the sights, and this cruise takes you on a 2.5-hour boat cruise of the Bosphorus Strait to see Istanbul’s prime 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 loads on the second day of our 3-day Istanbul itinerary, so be sure you put on one thing snug in the present day! On the second day, you’ll end exploring the sight in Sultanahmet and head throughout the Galata Bridge into Taksim, the so-called trendy 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 complete of 61 streets and over 4000 outlets, which means that guests can spend a complete day right here and possibly not see all the pieces.

An interesting truth about Grand Bazaar  – it’s thought of the primary shopping center on the earth, which makes it the right 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 searching for one thing to recollect your journey by, then we advocate getting a pleasant Turkish rug, a Turkish lantern, or a nazar amulet.

When you find yourself drained from strolling up and down the streets, loosen up in one of many native tea outlets. Have a pleasant Turkish Tea (çay in Turkish) and a neighborhood snack earlier than you proceed.

When you resolve to buy one thing (which you completely ought to), don’t overlook to barter! The Turkish are superb salesmen and you may pay much more than what the merchandise is price!

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

Spice Bazaar

3 days in istanbul itinerary spice bazaar

Positioned a couple of minutes from the Grand Bazaar is the Spice Market. In contrast to the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar is fairly small. There are solely two streets, they usually kind 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 way more modern-looking and stylish than the Grand Bazaar.

However maybe essentially the most placing characteristic of the Spice Bazaar is the odor. Whenever you go in, your scent is instantly overwhelmed by the totally different spices. A mixture of sweat, tea, spices, and herbs create a singular odor 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

After getting completed your purchasing 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 right place to take action.

This bustling neighborhood is a good place to pattern Turkish meals. In contrast to eating places in Sultanahmet which are focused towards vacationers, the eating places right here entice locals because of their reasonably priced costs and easy Turkish flavors. 

One of the simplest ways 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 trendy middle. The bridge spans throughout the Golden Horn, an iconic physique of water and one of the vital widespread spots for fishing. 

It’s not unusual to see native fishermen lined up from one facet of the bridge all the best way to the opposite.

All of the fishermen deliver 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 may 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 trendy middle of Istanbul is Galata Tower within the Beyo?lu District. The tower was inbuilt 1348 below 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 may see Sultanahmet, Golden Horn, Bosphorus Strait,  and even the Asian facet of Istanbul on 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 necessary a part of each the Byzantine and Ottoman Empire’s historical past.

  • Opening Hours of Galata Tower: 9 am to 7 pm
  • Price: 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. Dwelling to quite a few eating places, fashionable bars, and stylish cafes, you may 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 could be 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!

One of the simplest ways to see Istiklal Road is to simply stroll round and go into any outlets which 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 may’t go incorrect with the unique pistachio taste.

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

istanbul itinerary 3 days kebabs

On the western facet of Taksim Sq. (close to the doorway of Istiklal Road) are a number of doner kebabs outlets. When you haven’t gotten the prospect to attempt them but, that is the place to go. Simply count on a protracted queue and loads 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 title for the 360-degree views its penthouse affords. 360 Istanbul normally turns into a pleasant nightlife venue later within the night time. 

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

An amazing journey tip is to get an Istanbul Museum Cross 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 move right here.

Day 3 – Asian Facet Of Istanbul

Our final day in Istanbul covers the Asian facet of Istanbul and in addition affords one thing a little bit extra enjoyable. 


Turkish Tub (Hammam)

spa etiquette tips
Dave’s prepared for his Hammam

After a protracted day of strolling round Istanbul, I feel it’s time to loosen up. Fortunately, there’s the right place in Istanbul to take action – a Turkish Tub, or Hammam in Turkish.

Turkish Baths have been an necessary 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 friends can socialize.

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

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

In the case of experiencing a Turkish Tub, there are numerous packages to select from. Relying on the way you wish to be pampered, you may select one thing that’s extra complete or one thing shorter.

Earlier than you go, be sure you take a look at the totally different packages Ca?alo?lu Hammam affords on their official website!



istanbul itinerary three days european side

Now that you simply’ve skilled the primary sights on Istanbul’s European facet, it’s time to head over to the Asian facet. The Asian facet is understood for its unimaginable meals and extra laid-back life-style. 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 facet is Kadikoy, a neighborhood recognized for its reasonably priced eating places with genuine flavors. Seafood is a specialty on the Asian facet, so don’t miss out on the prospect to attempt some stuffed mussels and fish sandwiches!

Head in direction of the sub-neighborhood of Moda, the place you will discover 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

In-built 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 trendy building 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 prime of a hill, the views from there are beautiful. The Camlica Mosque is located in Camlica Park, a large 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 contemporary air after the previous 2 days on the European Facet.



3 days in istanbul itineray Uskudar

After you’re completed exploring the Camlica Mosque and its huge grounds, head over to the quaint neighborhood of Uskudar on the Asian Facet. 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 only a few 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 lodge 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 Reserving.com/Journey Advisor
  • Sura Hagia Sophia – Positioned in Sultanahmet, this 5-star lodge is completely located to all the primary sights. The lodge additionally affords a well-designed backyard with a lovely pool space and Free Glad Hour. Take a look at Availability & CostsReserving.com/Journey Advisor
  • Elite World Europe Lodge – Located near the airport, this newly-opened lodge affords luxurious at funds costs. Good for a layover or to keep away from Istanbul site visitors when you have a flight leaving within the early morning hours. Take a look at Availability & Costs Reserving.com/Journey Advisor

Suggestions For Visiting Istanbul

turkish delight in istanbul
Be certain that to attempt Turkish Espresso and Turkish Delight
  • Convey snug sneakers – 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 deliver some snug sneakers to stroll across the metropolis!
  • Costume conservatively – Although Turkey is barely extra liberal than most Muslim international locations, 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. Ladies should cowl their heads, shoulders, and knees. You’ll must put on a shawl to cowl your head earlier than you enter.
  • Be Conscious of the Prayer Occasions – When you plan on visiting the mosques, be sure you take a look at the prayer instances. Guests usually are not 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 might also like: Etiquette within the Center East- Journey for Males and Ladies

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


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