3 Days in Istanbul: The Best Itinerary for Your Visit
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What better way to start your Istanbul itinerary of 3 days than by visiting a pair of the ancient city's most iconic structures? The Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque dominate Sultanahmet Square and are convenient to visit in the same afternoon. The former was built in 537 CE during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. At the time of its construction, it was considered to be one of the greatest architectural achievements in history with its spectacular, domed roof that was the second-largest ever built at the time, after the Pantheon in Rome. During its long history, it has served as an Orthodox church, a mosque and a museum. Recently, the Hagia Sophia has returned to its status as a functioning mosque. The structure is spectacular on both the inside and outside and is a must-see for any first-time visitor to Istanbul. The good news is the fact that it is open to both Muslim and non-Muslim guests. Sultanahmet Camii, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, is of equal importance as a must-visit tourist attraction. Constructed between 1609 and 1616, it features 6 minarets and gets its nickname from its interior, which is decorated with thousands of Iznik tiles. The structure is considered to be one of the crowning achievements of Ottoman architecture.
Conclude the 1st leg of your 3-day itinerary by taking a cruise along the iconic Bosphorus. This is a unique way to see this world-class city from a different vantage point. During your journey, you will pass by stunning Ottoman-era mansions and historic palaces. There are several tours you can select of varying lengths. The short route takes you to the second suspension bridge and then back, while the longer option includes a trek to the Black Sea before returning to port. During the summer months, you can join a sunset cruise. Another option is the hop-on-hop-off Bosphorus boat tour that stops at key points of interest along the way, where you can get off to explore. When you are done, simply wait for the next tour boat to come by to continue your journey.
Sultanahmet Square is located on the site where the Circus Maximus used to stand during the heyday of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. During those times, it featured horse and chariot races to entertain the city's residents. Points of interest include the Egyptian Obelisk, the German Fountain and the Serpentine Column. The square is the main corridor to top points of interest like Topkapi Palace. It is dominated by the impressive Blue Mosque, which sits across from the venerable Hagia Sophia.
Enjoying the dining and nightlife scene in Taksim Square is the perfect way to conclude day 2 of your itinerary. Taksim Square is renowned as the heart of Istanbul's dining and nightlife scene, with something for every taste. In terms of the area's food scene, you will find a huge array of delights from many different countries across the world. A few of our top recommendations for a memorable meal include 360 Istanbul. This is a rooftop restaurant that provides you with stunning views of the city while you enjoy a world-class meal. The menu features a mix of Turkish, Indian, Mediterranean and Italian cuisine with plenty of unique fusion options to sample. Head to Eleos Restaurant for delicious Greek food that includes a complimentary drink of ouzo. This is the place to go for the freshest seafood, and you can take in views of the Bosphorus from the dining room while you enjoy your dinner. Otantik Restaurant is the spot to head for a Turkish food menu that features succulent lamb kebabs and unique desserts, such as the milk-based güllaç. After you are done eating, it is time to find your ideal spot to party the night away. There are plenty of bars and clubs to choose from in the Taksim area. We recommend checking out spots like Mojo Bar, Babylon and Kara Kedi.
The Grand Bazaar is another one of the must-visit points of interest for any Istanbul itinerary of 3 days. It is a massive, covered marketplace that takes up an entire quarter of the city. The bazaar is located between the Beyaz?t and Nuruosman?ye mosques and is surrounded by a set of walls. There are 11 entry gates into this maze of laneways that are covered by a vaulted ceiling. Inside, you will find vendors selling everything you can imagine. This is one of the best places to pick up unique souvenirs to take home with you when your holiday concludes. Since the various trades that operate within the Grand Bazaar are separated into different sections, browsing this imposing market is easier than you might initially think.
Wrap up your memorable 3-day itinerary with a visit to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. This is a paradise for history lovers with its vast collections of artefacts from Turkey and beyond. There are 3 primary sections, each of which focuses on a different area of study. During your exploration of the complex, you will encounter everything from fine ceramic art to sarcophagi that were discovered in places like Lebanon. The Istanbul Through the Ages room tells the story of the city as it has evolved over the past several thousand years from a Greek colony to the new capital of the Roman Empire and its transition throughout the medieval period to the current day.
Located to the southeast of Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara, you will find the iconic Princes' Islands. They are one of the top day trip options for an Istanbul itinerary of 3 days. You can take the ferry to get to this area that is famed for its serene beauty. There are a total of 9 islands, but Büyükada and Heybeliada are the most visited. The former is home to the Museum of the Princes' Islands and the Monastery of Saint George. The latter is popular with swimmers and sunbathers as it is home to a lovely beach. As there are no cars on the islands, you will feel like you have stepped back in time during your visit.
The city and district of Sile is located on the Black Sea coast. It is another popular destination as it is home to a beach that is covered in white sand. Here, you can also visit a castle built in the 14th century by the Genoese, which is just offshore. There is also an intriguing lighthouse that dates to the Ottoman period. You can visit the nearby town of A?va for more beautiful coastal scenery and additional sunbathing options.
The ruins of the ancient city of Troy represent another popular day trip option for those enjoying an Istanbul itinerary of 3 days. Since it takes around 4 hours to get to this iconic location, it is important to get an early start if you want to embark on this excursion. The good news is the fact that it will be worth it, as this is one of the world's most important archaeological sites. Its history extends deep into the Bronze Age, and the area continued to be inhabited into the Byzantine Era. It is one of the most important locations for researchers who are studying the contact that existed between the civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean world. For these reasons, Troy was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1998.
The Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul 5* features 186 luxurious guest rooms and suites that are ideally suited for your 3-day itinerary to this incredible destination. During your stay, you can choose between 3 different Deluxe Room options with spectacular views of the city, the atrium and the Bosphorus.
Hotel features include a concierge service, a laundry service, a luggage storage service, airport transfers, a babysitting service, Wi-Fi, a hairdresser, 4 restaurant/bar facilities, spa treatments, a shop, a fitness centre, an indoor swimming pool and a hammam. You will also enjoy in-room features like a mini-fridge, a coffee machine, bathrobes, a safe and a courtesy tray of tea/coffee.
What we like: We love this property's impressive listing of 5-star services that include rejuvenating treatments provided at the CHI Spa.
The Tria Hotel Istanbul Special Category 4* is ideally situated in the heart of Istanbul and close to the city's most iconic landmarks. It features stunning views of the Hagia Sophia and the Bosphorus from its terrace.
On-site amenities include a tour desk, a lift, free parking, air conditioning, multilingual staff, a 24-hour reception desk, Wi-Fi and the Tria Terrace Restaurant.
What we like: We love the authentic designs featured at this luxurious property. Its outstanding location and stunning views add to its value as accommodation for your Istanbul itinerary of 3 days.
The W Istanbul 5* is a luxurious property that features 140 well-appointed rooms and a range of on-site features that ensure a true 5-star experience. During your stay, you will be comfortably accommodated in an upgraded Fabulous Room with breakfast served daily.
This popular hotel features a currency exchange, a laundry service, a concierge service, multilingual staff, air conditioning, a lift, luggage storage, a fitness centre, the W Lounge and spa treatments. Rooms include a balcony or terrace.
What we like: We love this 5-star hotel's listing of services and its convenient proximity to Istanbul's bustling souks and impressive temples.
With 130 rooms to choose from, the Radisson Blu Hotel Istanbul Pera 5* is another great choice for travellers booking a 3-day trip to Turkey. It is located in the Beyo?lu district and is close to many of the area's top cultural landmarks.
You can look forward to on-site hotel features, such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, the Luna Lounge Bar, the Steak and More Restaurant, spa treatments, an indoor swimming pool and a fitness centre.
What we like: We love the spectacular views of the iconic Golden Horn that await you when you choose this property through Voyage Privé.
The Galata Hotel Istanbul - MGallery by Sofitel 5* is our final recommendation for your 3-day city break. The property blends grand architecture with modern facilities and elegant décor. It is located in the fashionable Beyoglu district and is just a short walk from the Galata Tower.
The hotel's on-site features include a luggage storage service, a laundry service, currency exchange, air conditioning, 24-hour reception, 3 restaurant/bar facilities and spa treatments.
What we like: We love the property's idyllic location in the heart of the city and its range of 5-star services.
We have a few tips to help you arrange an unforgettable Istanbul itinerary of 3 days through Voyage Privé. To begin, we suggest that you put some time into planning your holiday. At the same time, you do not want to be too rigid, as it is important to be able to adapt when you travel. We also recommend picking up the Istanbul Museum Pass and booking any other tickets in advance where possible. To save money, make use of public transportation instead of hiring taxi services. The local currency is the lira, and the official language is Turkish. Learning a few key phrases will enhance your interactions with the friendly locals you will meet during your getaway.
The best times to visit Istanbul are April to May and September to October. During these times, the weather is pleasant and mild, and the tourist crowds are fewer. You can also expect lower prices for accommodation when you visit off-season.
Flights out of the UK's top travel hubs depart for Sabiha Gökçen International and Atatürk International airports daily. The average in-air time is around 4 hours. Your options to get around the area include the Istanbul Metro. There are also trams, ferries, bus routes and plenty of local taxi services.
Turkish cuisine enjoys renown across the world with an array of mouth-watering delights that await you during your Istanbul getaway. The food scene here is a true melting pot of cultures, and this has created a dynamic offering of dishes that are certain to delight your tastebuds. During your visit, a few must-try local favourites include Turkish-style scrambled eggs called menemen. It is prepared using roasted peppers and onions that are mixed with eggs, tomatoes and herbs to create one of the country's most popular breakfast dishes. You should also visit a traditional meyhane (restaurant or bar) during your time in the city. These restaurants specialise in mezes. These are cold starters, such as patl?can ezmesi (grilled eggplant paste), barbunya (Turkish baked beans) and ?ak?uka (poached eggs in a spiced tomato sauce). No visit to Istanbul would be complete without sampling the various kebabs that are on offer across the city. Popular varieties include iskender kebap, kuyu kebab? and adana kebap.