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 the moment, 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 may look forward to 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 high sights and extra once you go to this wonderful metropolis.
The Excellent 3 Days in Istanbul Itinerary
In case 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 of 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 proper journey once you go to Istanbul Turkey.
So, once 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 Avenue 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 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 Heart
There isn’t a higher technique to begin exploring Istanbul than leaping straight into its historic heart – Sultanahmet. It’s residence to a number 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 vitality to discover the previous metropolis. Higher generally known as 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 take pleasure in pastries, honey, and jams.
Probably the most well-known landmark in Istanbul is arguably Hagia Sophia, one of many oldest buildings in Istanbul.
The truth is, the constructing was in-built 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 folks.
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 predominant 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 cross or 72TL if paying on the entrance.
- Tram cease – Sultanahmet
The 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 called 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.
Elements of the Grand Palace of Constantinople had 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 folks after the Fifteen Years’ Struggle.
From the outside, you would possibly marvel 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 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 embellished fountains constructed in the course of the Ottoman interval. They served as ingesting 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 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 could find 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 once you purchase it, and that alone is value each penny (or Lira)!
Minutes away from Sultanahmet Sq. is without doubt 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 largest 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. A lot of the columns got here from salvaged temples and guests can nonetheless see the carvings on lots of them.
The cisterns had been an underground reservoir water system that was designed to carry massive portions of water and gather rainwater. This water is then equipped to all the 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 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 embrace the Harem) To ebook the Harem, it’s one other 42 TL)
Topkapi Palace was in-built 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 want 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 probably 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 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 Courtroom, 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 vital our bodies of water.
Right this moment, 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 a number of the most vital buildings alongside the Bosphorus Strait, such because the Dolmabahce Palace and Maiden’s Tower. Company may also 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 deciding on an expensive 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 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 ensure you put on one thing snug at the moment! On the second day, you’ll end exploring the sight in Sultanahmet and head throughout the Galata Bridge into Taksim, the so-called trendy heart of Istanbul.
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 retailers, that means that guests can spend a whole day right here and possibly not see every thing.
An interesting reality 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 will discover quite a lot of stuff right here – from low-cost counterfeits to antiques. However if you’re on the lookout 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, calm down in one of many native tea retailers. 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 neglect to barter! The Turkish are superb salesmen and you’ll pay much more than what the merchandise is value!
- Hours: 10 am to 6pm
- Tram Cease – Beyazit Kapaliçarsi
Situated a couple of minutes from the Grand Bazaar is the Spice Market. Not like the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar is reasonably 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 probably the most putting characteristic of the Spice Bazaar is the scent. 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 scent that’s iconic to the Spice Market. If you wish to buy Turkish tea, the Spice Bazaar is a superb place to take action.
- Hours: 10 am to 6pm
- Tram Cease – Beyazit – Kapaliçarsi
Lunch At Eminonu
After getting completed your buying 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 superb 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.
One of the best 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 trendy heart. The bridge spans throughout the Golden Horn, an iconic physique of water and one of the vital common spots for fishing.
It’s not unusual to see native fishermen lined up from one aspect of the bridge all the best way 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 probably the most well-known attraction within the trendy heart of Istanbul is Galata Tower within the Beyo?lu District. The tower was in-built 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 without doubt 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 aspect of Istanbul on a very good day.
Moreover admiring the spectacular views, ensure you discover the reveals that element the historical past of the Galata Tower. This tower was an vital 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 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 avenue in Istanbul that’s all the time bustling. Residence to quite a few eating places, fashionable bars, and stylish cafes, you may spend hours right here and never see a number of 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 might be slower than strolling due to all of the pedestrian site visitors!
One of the best ways to see Istiklal Avenue is to only stroll round and go into any retailers that may fancy you. Don’t miss the dessert retailers and the prospect to check out baklava, the nationwide dessert of
Turkey. There are numerous flavors to it however you may’t go flawed with the unique pistachio taste.
As you stroll up Istiklal Avenue, 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 corresponding 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. In case you haven’t gotten the prospect to strive them but, that is the place to go. Simply count on a protracted queue and plenty of hungry folks shoving round!
Earlier than you permit, take pleasure in 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 evening.
If you wish to try the nightlife in Istanbul, it is a excellent spot to take action. In any other case, there are quite a few choices alongside Istiklal avenue!
An incredible journey tip is to get an Istanbul Museum Go to skip the road to common museums like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Harem, Nice Palace Mosaics and extra common 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 likewise affords one thing a little bit extra stress-free.
Turkish Tub (Hammam)
After a protracted day of strolling round Istanbul, I feel it’s time to calm down. Fortunately, there’s the proper place in Istanbul to take action – a Turkish Tub, or Hammam in Turkish.
Turkish Baths had been an vital 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 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 without doubt 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.
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, ensure you try the completely different packages Ca?alo?lu Hammam affords on their official website!
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 thought for its unimaginable meals and extra laid-back way of life. With loads of residential areas, it is without doubt one of the finest locations to remain in Istanbul for households.
Our first cease on the Asian aspect is Kadikoy, a neighborhood recognized 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 strive some stuffed mussels and fish sandwiches!
Head in direction of the sub-neighborhood of Moda, the place you could 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!
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 largest mosque in all of Turkey and its trendy building makes it a spectacular landmark. Moreover 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 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, a large inexperienced area that’s common for households to benefit from the outside.
In case you are 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.
After you’re completed exploring the Camlica Mosque and its huge grounds, head over to the quaint neighborhood of Uskudar on the Asian Aspect. This neighborhood is thought for its bustling fish markets and a long-stretching promenade with tons of cozy cafes.
Dealing with west, the shores of this seaside neighborhood is without doubt 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 good 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 – Situated in Sultanahmet, this 5-star resort is completely located to all the principle sights. The resort additionally affords a well-designed backyard with a sexy pool space and Free Completely satisfied Hour. Take a look at Availability & CostsReserving.com/Journey Advisor
- Elite World Europe Resort – Located near the airport, this newly-opened resort affords luxurious at funds costs. Excellent 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
- Convey snug sneakers – Istanbul is a metropolis that’s finest found on foot. Town has a nickname of “Metropolis on the Seven Hills”, so ensure you convey some snug sneakers to stroll across the metropolis!
- Gown conservatively – Although Turkey is barely extra liberal than most Muslim nations, it’s nonetheless a Muslim nation. Ensure you received’t put on one thing too revealing. For the mosques, males can’t 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, ensure you try the prayer occasions. 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 good contactless card that’s used to pay the fare. You will get one from most main public transportation stations.
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