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3 Days in Istanbul

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The top sights to see on your first time in Istanbul!

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

16 Places

3 City Tips

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16 Places

Day 1

Blue Mosque

Sacred & Religious Sites

Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)

Architectural Buildings, Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites, History Museums

Basilica Cistern

Ancient Ruins, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites

Topkapi Palace

History Museums

Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresesi

Sacred & Religious Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Kapali Carsi

Flea & Street Markets

Cemberlitas Hamami

Spas

Day 2

Spice Bazaar

Gift & Speciality Shops

Meshur Eminonu Balikcisi

Restaurants

Galata Bridge

Bridges

Galata Tower

Historic Sites, Observation Decks & Towers

Beyoglu

Neighbourhoods

Mikla Restaurant

Restaurants

Istiklal Street

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Taksim Square

Neighbourhoods

Day 3

Sehir Hatlari Cruise

Boat Tours

Chris O's City Tips

  • Dress modestly and remember that some of the city's most popular attractions, such as the Blue Mosque, are actually religious destinations as well - be respectful!
  • Keep in mind that Istanbul is a very hilly city: Wear comfortable shoes when hitting the streets.
  • The city's public transportation is modern, clean, efficient and inexpensive. For many visitors (and locals), the tram system is an especially handy way to get around.
    Day 1
  • Save
    Blue Mosque
    Sacred & Religious Sites
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Dating from the early 1600s, the historic Sultan Ahmed Mosque is more commonly know as the Blue Mosque for the many blue tiles adorning its walls, as well as its giant blue stained glass windows and blue painted ceilings. You might want to do some neck limbering exercises before entering because you'll be looking up in awe the whole time you're here!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Bring your own socks! You'll need to take your shoes off to enter the mosque.
    • Men would be wise not to wear shorts and women should cover thighs, shoulders, tops of upper arms and hair.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful place 16/12/2017
    • Mpa 15/12/2017
    • Blue Mosque
    Address:
    Sultanahmet
    Sultanahmet Mah
    Istanbul 34122
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 518 13 19
    Hours:
    Fri
    13:30 - 15:30
    Sat - Thu
    08:30 - 11:30
    13:00 - 14:30
    15:30 - 16:45
    Other:
  • Save
    Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)
    Architectural Buildings, Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites, History Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    One time Greek Orthodox basilica, one time imperial mosque, this architectural marvel and cultural landmark is now a museum. When you go, keep an eye out for the “Viking graffiti” that was carved into the wooden rails of the top floor.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The museum is closed on Mondays and some religious holidays.
    • Lines for purchasing tickets here can be daunting. Consider buying yours online in advance.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • If you could go to only one place in Istanbul, this is it 16/12/2017
    • Amazing place, a must see in Istanbul 16/12/2017
    • Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)
    Address:
    Ayasofya Square, Sultanahmet
    Istanbul 34122
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 522 1750
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 16:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Basilica Cistern
    Ancient Ruins, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The largest of the many hundred ancient cisterns lying beneath the streets of modern Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern is one of the city's top historical attractions. While it's just as amazing to visit as any of the others, it's usually not nearly as crowded.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • Brush up on your “night photography” skills here, and bring a small tripod for super cool pics of the cistern's columns reflection in the water.
    • Check to see if there are any upcoming concerts - an amazing opportunity to enjoy its unique acoustics.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Unfortunately in renovation...dissappointing 15/12/2017
    • Mysterious place 14/12/2017
    • Basilica Cistern
    Address:
    Alemdar Mahallesi, Yerebatan Caddesi, No:1/3
    Istanbul 34410
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 512 15 70
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 17:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Topkapi Palace
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Get ready to be dazzled and amazed – not only by the array of jewels and artefacts from Topkapi's collection, but also by the panoramic views of the Bosphorus. The lavish seat of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, Topkapi Palace is a must for any first-time visitor to Istanbul!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Do not leave the palace without a visit to its harem!
    • Planning to see the Sacred Relics (Abraham’s Pot, Moses’s Staff, David’s Sword, Muhammad’s footprints and more)? Don't wear shorts, miniskirts, tank tops or strapless clothing.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful place 14/12/2017
    • Amazing work of art and beautiful views of Bosphorous 14/12/2017
    • Topkapi Palace
    Address:
    Cankurtaran Mahallesi, Topkapi Palace Museum, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
    Gulhane Park, near Sultanahmet Square
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 522 44 22
    Other:
  • Save
    Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresesi
    Sacred & Religious Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Whether or not you want to partake in smoking some flavoured tobacco from the hubbly bubbly shisha pipes, you'll love the traditional tea and Turkish coffee here. Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresesi is an evocative spot to relax and unwind - popular with tourists and locals alike. Even walking down the covered passage from the bustling street into Corlulu's courtyard - with its myriad rooms decked out with all sorts of antiques and age old décor - is a delight for the senses.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    Tips
    • Apple seems to be the most popular and tastiest tobacco option here.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #52 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Nice ambiance 14/12/2017
    • A colourful and cool place to have a break 24/10/2017
    • Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresesi
    Address:
    Mollafenari Mh.
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 511 88 53
  • Save
    Kapali Carsi
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Don't worry if you get a little lost while exploring the Grand Bazaar - with its dozens of covered streets, thousands of shops and hundreds of thousands of daily visitors, it can be a little overwhelming! The bazaar, also known as Kapali Caris, is really something to see though, offering an unparalled shopping experience brimming with vibrant culture and living history. So enjoy it; just be sure to keep an eye on your belongings and pay attention to the signage pointing to the different exits.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Actually shopping and not just gawking in bewildered amazement? It would be rude not to haggle!
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #31 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good Place to Shop if you know how to Bargain 16/12/2017
    • Hassle hassle and hassle 13/12/2017
    • Kapali Carsi
    Address:
    Beyazit Mh.
    Fatih
    Istanbul 34126
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 519 12 48
    Other:
  • Save
    Cemberlitas Hamami
    Spas
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Affordable luxury is offered at this historic hamam situated next to the Grand Bazaar. Dating back to 1584, Cemberlitas Hamami is a truly authentic Turkish Bath. Booking an appointment here is a squeaky clean way to soak up ancient culture.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    Tips
    • Baths are divided by sex here. There are mixed hamams in Istanbul but for the traditional experience, Cemberlitas is hard to beat.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 135 Spas & Wellness in Istanbul
    • Effective but relaxing 10/12/2017
    • Chased out after an hour 08/12/2017
    • Cemberlitas Hamami
    Address:
    8 Vezirhan Caddesi
    Çemberlitaş
    Istanbul 34440
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 522 79 74
    Other:
  • Day 2
  • Save
    Spice Bazaar
    Gift & Speciality Shops
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Istanbul's Spice Bazaar is a centuries-old foodie wonderland that's as exciting to visit as it is budget friendly and delectable! Whether you're foraging your way through this aromatic labyrinth of yum, shopping for gifts, or just taking it all in, it's without doubt a sight to behold (and to smell)!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Love pastrami? Check out the Cankurtaran Gida shop for this and plenty more traditional Turkish meats and cheeses.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 549 Shopping in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Very Nice ! 12/12/2017
    • Much better than grand bazar! 03/12/2017
    • Spice Bazaar
    Address:
    Rustem Pasa Mahallesi 34116 Istanbul, Turkey
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 537 646 63 31
    Other:
  • Save
    Meshur Eminonu Balikcisi
    Restaurants (Turkish, Seafood)
    Chris O Says:

    You can't miss these gawdy boats rocking alongside the Eminonu Pier at the “Old City” side of Galata Bridge, and nor should you. And why exactly are the boats bobbing back and forth in steady rhythm? The cooks working in their kitchens are tossing Istanbul's favorite street food to the waiters working the tables on land, that's why! For a cheap and fun snack served in singular style, Eminonu's swinging boat restaurants are ace!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    Tips
    • The sandwiches from the boats are basically just bread and fish. For condiments such as the traditional pickles, you'll need to pay a nominal fee at a kiosk next to the boats.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #410 of 7,571 restaurants in Istanbul
    • Close to the Bosphorus and Life 24/10/2017
    • Here, fishy, fishy 22/10/2017
    • Meshur Eminonu Balikcisi
    Address:
    Yeni Galata Koprusu D:25
    Eminonu/Cagaloglu, Fatih
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    5288208
  • Save
    Galata Bridge
    Bridges
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    There's been some sort of bridge spanning the Golden Horn from “old” Eminonu to “new” Beyoglu since at least the 6th century, and today's pedestrian-friendly Galata Bridge is as much a link between ancient and modern as ever. It's still a hot spot for local fishermen too and a great vantage point for admiring the sunsets for which Istanbul is famous. Shutterbugs, this location is for you!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • You would have to be blind (and deaf) not to notice all the bars and restaurants on the bridge. But be aware there are far better and more authentic places to eat than here.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #30 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Go there hungry 13/12/2017
    • enjoyable 11/12/2017
    • Galata Bridge
    Address:
    Galata Koprusu Kemankes Karamustafa Pasa
    Beyoglu
    Istanbul 34425
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 243 95 01
    Other:
  • Save
    Galata Tower
    Historic Sites, Observation Decks & Towers
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The 1,500-year-old Galata Tower is an enduring and iconic landmark of Istanbul, and despite the many modern towers and rooftop bars and restaurants, this medieval stone tower still offers some of the best views of the city, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • The tower is open from 9am - 8 pm daily - at the height of tourist season, lines can be long, so plan to visit early.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #18 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The view from the top is amazing 13/12/2017
    • Fantastic view on the city 13/12/2017
    • Galata Tower
    Address:
    Buyuk Hendek Cad.
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 293 81 80
    Other:
  • Save
    Beyoglu
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Take the Beyoğlu Tünel funicular to spare your legs from the steep climb to Beyoğlu Square and then make time to explore this beautiful neighborhood, renowned for its many restaurants and a buzzing nightlife.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • Be sure to check out some of the shops selling traditional musical instruments near the Tunel's top terminus - how many different types of cymbals can you spot?
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #43 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The Place for musicians 13/12/2017
    • Used the trams a lot in the city! 07/11/2017
    • Beyoglu
  • Save
    Mikla Restaurant
    Restaurants (European, Turkish)
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Located atop the roof of the Marmara Pera Hotel, Mikla Restaurant offers upscale and stylish dining with a menu of contempory dishes based on traditional Turkish cuisine. Mikla is also home to an excellent al fresco bar where, come evening, guests get to enjoy one of the most spectacular shows in town: sunset over the Golden Horn.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • If you're planning to dine here, a reservation is highly recommended - you might want to tidy up first too if coming from a day of sightseeing.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #58 of 7,571 restaurants in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Top rated food and experience 15/12/2017
    • Interesting menu and presentation, but flavours not great 13/12/2017
    • Mikla Restaurant
    Address:
    The Marmara Pera Hotel, Mesrutiyet No 15
    Beyoglu
    Istanbul 34430
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 293 56 56
    Price range:
    US$51 - US$102
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    18:00 - 02:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Istiklal Street
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    There's no better place to get a sense of this massive city's diverse and cosmopolitan makeup than this short cobblestoned and pedestrianized street. It's hardly a bad option either for a quick bite, spot of shopping and top quality people watching (by the throngs)!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • As in any crowded urban space, keep track of your belongings here - it's very safe, but petty crimes and pickpocketing are possible.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #36 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Mpa 15/12/2017
    • Party street 12/12/2017
    • Istiklal Street
    Address:
    istiklal street Taksim
    Beyoglu
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 532 421 61 64
    Other:
  • Save
    Taksim Square
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The cultural and social heart of Istanbul, Taksim Square is the place to go for any variety of local action. From major festivities such as New Year's Eve celebrations to some of the city's most popular restaurants, shops and nightspots, Taksim Square is the go-to hub for many an Istanbul native … and probably the easiest place in town from which to hail a cab!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Major political protests tend to be staged here. You'll be safe, but it doesn't hurt to have idea of the local news before heading to the square.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #64 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
    • Shopping street 13/12/2017
    • may be too famous 12/12/2017
    • Taksim Square
    Address:
    Gumussuyu Mh.
    Beyoglu
    Istanbul 34437
    Turkey
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 23:59
  • Day 3
  • Save
    Sehir Hatlari Cruise
    Boat Tours
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    At some point during your stay in Istanbul you must hit the water for some sort of cruise on the Bosphorus. Sehir Hatlari's cruises are an especially picturesque and affordable way to begin getting a sense of just how gorgeous (and expansive) this age-old city is. The “Full Bosphorus Cruise” from Eminonu to Anadolu Kavagi is ideal for seeing a good stretch of Istanbul as well as much of the Bosphorus, and includes time to explore the 15th-century Yoros Castle (an uphill but easy hike) on the Asian side of town; to admire the views of the Black Sea from there; and to have a seafood lunch near the base of the castle or on the waterfront.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • This may “just” be the public ferry, but there's an informative headphone guide available, and the photos you'll take and memories you'll keep will be splendid.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 79 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Istanbul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Here’s how to shorten the long cruise when the short one is not offered 19/10/2017
    • Inexpensive Bosphorus Cruise 29/09/2017
    • Sehir Hatlari Cruise
    Address:
    Evliya Celebi Cad. No:1 - 4
    Kasımpaşa , Beyoğlu
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    Phone:
    +90 212 313 80 00
    Other:
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