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 at present, it’s straightforward to see why.
3 days in Istanbul is simply sufficient time to see this vibrant and bustling metropolis is a big 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 engaging sights, from the enduring Blue Mosque, the traditional Hagia Sophia, the world’s oldest and largest lined market, The Grand Bazaar, and the underground cisterns. On this Istanbul itinerary, you’ll see all of those high sights and extra if you go to this wonderful metropolis.
The Good 3 Days in Istanbul Itinerary
Should 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 can assist you plan the right journey if you go to Istanbul Turkey.
So, if 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 Avenue 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 consists of skip-the-line tickets to Istanbul’s high 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 heart – Sultanahmet. It’s dwelling to among 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 vitality to discover the previous metropolis. Higher generally known 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.
Essentially the most well-known landmark in Istanbul is arguably Hagia Sophia, one of many oldest buildings in Istanbul.
In truth, the constructing was inbuilt 537, at a time when there was no Istanbul. When it was constructed, Istanbul was Constantinople, a reputation given to the 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 the town was seized by the Ottomans, it was became 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 grew to become a functioning mosque once more, a lot to the delight of the Turkish folks.
The Hagia Sophia has 4 minarets, which signifies that the mosque was constructed by the sultan. Its exterior is beautiful with hints of crimson 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 each 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
Simply minutes away from the historic Hagia Sophia is one other certainly one of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks – The Blue Mosque often known 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.
Components 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 folks after the Fifteen Years’ Battle.
From the outside, you may surprise how The Blue Mosque acquired its title. None of its exterior is blue. Guests will perceive as soon as they step inside this spiritual landmark how the mosque acquired 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 won’t be as historic as Hagia Sophia, its charming decor goes to make you fall in love!
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 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 full of adorned fountains constructed in the course of the Ottoman interval. They served as consuming water for vacationers and a spot the place Muslims might purify themselves earlier than getting into a mosque to wish.
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 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’ll find a spot that sells Turkish Ice Cream, in any other case known as dondurma. The Turkish ice cream right here comes with somewhat efficiency if you purchase it, and that alone is value each penny (or Lira)!
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 lots 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 many repairs, the cistern is open to guests. A lot of the columns got here from salvaged temples and guests can nonetheless see the carvings on a lot of them.
The cisterns have been an underground reservoir water system that was designed to carry giant portions of water and accumulate 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 vital unimaginable historic Greek applied sciences. This tour provides skip the ticket traces 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 (be aware this doesn’t embody the Harem) To e book the Harem, it’s one other 42 TL)
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, 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 now not in use and was became a museum. Inside, guests will discover tons of displays 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 personal 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 Court docket, Historic Kitchens, and The Treasury.
Sundown Bosphorus Cruise
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 essential our bodies of water.
As we speak, the Bosphorus Strait acts because the boundary between Europe and Asia, so visitors technically get a tour of two continents!
All Bosphorus sundown cruises will showcase among the most essential buildings alongside the Bosphorus Strait, such because the Dolmabahce Palace and Maiden’s Tower. Company may go underneath 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 deciding on an opulent 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 soak up 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 rather a lot on the second day of our 3-day Istanbul itinerary, so be sure to put on one thing snug at present! On the second day, you’ll end exploring the sight in Sultanahmet and head throughout the Galata Bridge into Taksim, the so-called fashionable heart of Istanbul.
Begin your second day in Istanbul with one of many oldest and largest lined markets on this planet – Grand Bazaar. It has an estimated complete of 61 streets and over 4000 retailers, which means that guests can spend a whole day right here and possibly not see all the pieces.
An attention-grabbing truth about Grand Bazaar – it’s thought-about the primary shopping center on this planet, 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 in case you are 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 find yourself drained from strolling up and down the streets, chill out in one of many native tea retailers. Have a pleasant Turkish Tea (çay in Turkish) and a neighborhood snack earlier than you proceed.
Should you determine 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 value!
- Hours: 10 am to 6pm
- Tram Cease – Beyazit Kapaliçarsi
Positioned a couple of minutes from the Grand Bazaar is the Spice Market. In contrast to the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar is quite small. There are solely two streets, they usually type the letter L.
Constructed within the seventeenth Century, the Spice Bazaar is way 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 odor. If you go in, your scent is straight away overwhelmed by the completely different spices. A mixture of sweat, tea, spices, and herbs create a novel 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
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 situated, 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 can be focused towards vacationers, the eating places right here appeal to 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!
After a hearty lunch, it’s time to proceed exploring Istanbul. Head over to the Galata Bridge, which connects the historic heart of Istanbul with its fashionable heart. The bridge spans throughout the Golden Horn, an iconic physique of water and one of the vital standard 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 convey 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 might take a little bit of time to get throughout!
Maybe essentially the most well-known attraction within the fashionable heart of Istanbul is Galata Tower within the Beyo?lu District. The tower was inbuilt 1348 underneath 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 the town. From the balcony, you possibly can see Sultanahmet, Golden Horn, Bosphorus Strait, and even the Asian aspect of Istanbul on day.
Moreover admiring the spectacular views, be sure to discover the displays 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
- Price: 35 TL
Istiklal Avenue and Taksim
The final exercise on the second day of our 3 days in Istanbul itinerary is to discover Istiklal Avenue and the Taksim neighborhood.
Istiklal Avenue 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, stylish bars, and stylish cafes, you possibly can spend hours right here and never see among the finest issues it has to supply.
Right here you’ll discover the historic Istiklal tram that covers half the span of Istiklal Avenue. Although it is perhaps tempting to get on it and save your self a while, the tram could possibly be slower than strolling due to all of the pedestrian visitors!
One of the simplest ways to see Istiklal Avenue is to simply stroll round and go into any retailers which may fancy you. Don’t miss the dessert retailers and the prospect to check out baklava, the nationwide dessert of
Turkey. There are various flavors to it however you possibly can’t go flawed with the unique pistachio taste.
As you stroll up Istiklal Avenue, you’ll ultimately end up in Taksim Sq.. Many individuals contemplate Taksim Sq. to be the guts of contemporary Istanbul, and also you’ll actually see much more worldwide manufacturers akin to Mcdonald’s, Burger King, Marriott, and the likes right here.
On the western aspect of Taksim Sq. (close to the doorway of Istiklal Avenue) are a number of doner kebabs retailers. Should 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 folks shoving round!
Earlier than you permit, 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 provides. 360 Istanbul normally turns into a pleasant nightlife venue later within the evening.
If you wish to take a look at the nightlife in Istanbul, it is a excellent spot to take action. In any other case, there are quite a few choices alongside Istiklal road!
An incredible journey tip is to get an Istanbul Museum Move to skip the road to standard museums like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Harem, Nice Palace Mosaics and extra standard 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 aspect of Istanbul and likewise provides one thing somewhat extra enjoyable.
Turkish Tub (Hammam)
After a protracted day of strolling round Istanbul, I feel it’s time to chill out. Fortunately, there may be the right 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 visitors can socialize.
These days, a Turkish Tub is extra of a soothing expertise the place visitors can come out fully refreshed and among the 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 underneath the Ottoman Empire. The inside of the Ca?alo?lu Hammam is beautiful and appears like a museum of its personal.
In relation to experiencing a Turkish Tub, there are numerous 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 to take a look at the completely different packages Ca?alo?lu Hammam provides on their official web site!
Now that you simply’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 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 aspect is Kadikoy, a neighborhood identified for its reasonably priced 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!
Inbuilt 2019, the Camlica Mosque is a brand new attraction you don’t usually discover in any guidebooks. However in case you are 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 building makes it a spectacular landmark. Moreover being a mosque, it options an artwork gallery, a library, and a museum.
Every little thing within the Camlica Mosque simply speaks of luxurious and opulence.
Don’t miss out on the huge 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 area that’s standard for households to benefit from the open air.
In case you are nonetheless early within the afternoon, spend a while strolling round. You’ll be pleased about some contemporary air after the previous 2 days on the European Facet.
After you’re accomplished 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 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 Reserving.com/Journey Advisor
- Sura Hagia Sophia – Positioned in Sultanahmet, this 5-star resort is completely located to all the principle sights. The resort additionally provides a well-designed backyard with a sexy pool space and Free Completely happy Hour. Take a look at Availability & CostsReserving.com/Journey Advisor
- Elite World Europe Lodge – Located near the airport, this newly-opened resort provides luxurious at price range costs. Good for a layover or to keep away from Istanbul visitors you probably have a flight leaving within the early morning hours. Take a look at Availability & Costs Reserving.com/Journey Advisor
Ideas For Visiting Istanbul
- Convey 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 to convey some snug footwear 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. Girls 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 Instances – Should you plan on visiting the mosques, be sure to take a look at the prayer instances. Guests are usually 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.
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