Three days in Istanbul

Even if you can’t stay for a long period of time in Istanbul, spending a few days in Turkey’s most important city will already allow you to immerse in its vibrant atmosphere. 

From the constant cacophony, to the super scary taxi rides, the magnificent scenery the Bosphorus shores offers and the great food, you won’t regret the trip.

Itinerary for a 3 days trip in Istanbul:

Day 1

Begin your journey by visiting the Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as Blue Mosque, in the Old Center. It’s probably Turkey’s most famous Mosque. The entrance is free.

I would recommend to come early, especially in the summer, as the line can get really long and you might be spending hours queuing in the sun. It is closed to non worshipers during prayer times, so plan your visit accordingly.

Istanbul, Turkey, Sultanahmet Mosque

Don’t forget to wear covering clothes and for girls to bring a scarf of some kind to cover your hair. If you don’t have any they will provide you with some at the entrance.

Opposite to the Mosque is the Hagia Sophia Museum, which used to be a church, then a mosque, and suffered many destructions and reconstructions. The entrance fee is 60TL, around 9€.

Then off to the Great Bazaar, where, aside from a ton of counterfeit products, you will find lots of spices, handcraft and delicious Turkish delights. Walk around the Sultanahmet district and get an ice cream from one of the street vendors kiosk. Not only are they delicious but watching them being served is worth the detour.

Istanbul, Turkey, Hagya Sofia church
Istanbul, Turkey, Street Vendor
Istanbul, Turkey, Ice Cream
Istanbul, Turkey, Bazaar
Istanbul, Turkey, Colorful Houses
Istanbul, Turkey, Turkish Coffee

Day 2

Start the day with a Turkish coffee – spoiler alert! Do not drink it till the end, as the bottom of the cup will be full of coffee grounds.

Book a cruise on the Bosphorus to enjoy the beautiful palaces boarding the Strait, appreciate how the city expands and, if you’re as lucky as I’ve been, you might even see dolphins!

Then, take a walk along the Fish Market, on the oriental shore, before finishing the day by visiting the New Mosque and the Egyptian Bazaar.

Istanbul, Turkey, Dolphins Bosphorus
Istanbul, Turkey, Bosphorus Palace
Istanbul, Turkey, Bosphorus
Istanbul, Bosphorus shore
Istanbul, Turkey, Fish Market
Istanbul, Turkey, New Mosque
Istanbul, Bosphorus view

Day 3

Off to the Asian part of the city. Get to the emblematic Taksim Square by the funicular from Kabatas.

From there, walk down the pedestrian avenue Istiklal Caddesi to the Galata TowerYou can do this the other way round, but the walk might be less pleasant as the streets are pretty steep. Taking the old tramway might be a good option.

Have a break with a cup of tea and a nargile at the Galata 2 Hotel terrace.

To end your trip on a nice note and unwind from the city’s hustle, indulge with a Turkish bath break. Note that in general, these baths are not mixed, and that in the smaller ones, the visiting time for men and women alternate.

If you decide to go for the scrub and massage option, beware that they are energetic… to say the least! That’s you warned!

Istanbul, Turkey, StreetArt
Istanbul, Turkey, Tramway Taksim Place
Istanbul, Turkey, Galata tower
Istanbul, Turkey, Street Food
Istanbul, Turkey, Cruise Bosphorus

Where to sleep in Istanbul

Kaftan hotel – located in the old town, Sultanahmet district, bedrooms with a view on the Bosphorus and a baroque style. Excellent value for money

Which Turkish baths in Istanbul

HISTORICAL ÇEMBERLİTAŞ BATH

Even though it is nice to immerse in the country’s culture when traveling, going to small local hamams might not be the best option as a tourist. The Çemberlitaş Hamamı is a great compromise as it is one of the most magnificent historical Turkish bath in Istanbul.

What to eat in Istanbul​

Traditional kebab (nothing like the sandwich you might find down the road), Turkish delights, mezzes (assortments of marinated vegetables, meats, wine leafs preparations…), ice creams and if you have a sweet tooth, try the Kazandibi, a creamy dessert.

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