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3 Days in Istanbul: Itinerary Ideas

There are plenty of things to do in Istanbul and having only three days to visit the city means you’ll either be cramming in a lot in a limited time or take things slower and visit some of the important sights. This itinerary starts off with cramming a lot of sights during the first day, but offering a more relaxed approach for the other two days.

Itinerary assumption:

Day 1

Get to know the city and buy a map. Then make your way to the Spice market (take the tram to Eminonu). You can spend quite a lot of time picking up spice.

Sultanahmet Square is easy to get to either by tram or on foot . Hagia Sofia is in the area, too. You can visit the museum daily except on Mondays.

There are plenty of places to eat in the area . Try to look for one without a menu in English (or one filled with locals). Try some of the lovely Turkish food .

You can now visit the Blue Mosque, which is open daily except during praying times. Pay attention to the dress code. Make your way to the old peninsula and then head to the Covered bazaar. By the way: yes, you will be “kindly” (more like hassled) asked to buy. While a nice experience, skip this part if you don’t feel comfortable dealing with aggressive vendors. Instead , check out the Egyptian obelisk in the Hippodrome Square and spend some time in the area.

Day 2

You can start the day with visiting Galata Tower. The views from above are superb and the possibility to take fantastic photos are endless.

Then add a boat trip on the Bosphorus to the plan. There are many choices but it’s best to opt for the ferry. The ferries leave from Eminonu. There are three departures per day during summer and the round trip is about 5-6 h. The ferry stops in all ports along the Bosphorus, so you can stop and check out various places, but first look up the ferry times so you know when you can catch the next one.

Day 3

Take the tram to Sultanahmet station and walk to the Topkapi palace. It is open daily except on Tuesdays. You can easily spend an entire day visiting the palace and the Harem.

If you still have time, visit the Archeological Museum, open daily expect on Mondays. It houses very interesting items, including statues from ancient Roman Era , statue of the head of Alexander the Great, and fragments from the temple of Athens at Assos.

Photo credits: Hagia Sofia , View from Ferry , Harem at Topkapi palace