Must Visit Places in Istanbul, Turkey : 3 Days Istanbul Itinerary

Must Visit Places in Istanbul, Turkey : 3 Days Istanbul Itinerary

Istanbul may not be the capital of Turkey, but it is sure a magical place where the east meets the west. It is a city which offers you great architecture, history, culture, mouthwatering food and Turkish hospitality. The things to do and places to visit in Istanbul are overwhelming. There is so much to choose from, that creating an itinerary can get nerve-racking. To relieve you from the stress I have made a three-days itinerary which covers all the must-visit places in Istanbul.

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An amazing 3 day itinerary for a perfect trip to Istanbul, Turkey. Read the post to know all the must visit places in Istanbul and how to reach there. #istanbul #turkey #Istanbultravel #itinerary #turkeytravel #travel

Must Visit Places In Istanbul

Most of the attractions in Istanbul happen to be in the Old Town. Therefore, spend two days exploring the old town and one day exploring the new town.

DAY 1: Explore the Old City and Spice Market

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque a.k.a Sultanahmet Camii is the most famous mosque of Istanbul.

The mosque owes its name to the blue tiles used to decorate the interior walls of the mosque.

Although it is seen as a tourist attraction, it is an active mosque, and therefore the mosque closes for the tourists five times a day during the time of prayers.

The best time to visit the mosque is early morning when the number of tourists is less and you can appreciate the beauty of this masterpiece away from the bustle.

Remember to cover yourself up before you visit the mosque. Depending upon the modesty of your clothes, the staff will provide you with some extra clothing, which you can return at the exit gate.

Entrance: Free

Open: 7 days a week (The mosque closes five days a day during the time of prayers.)

How to reach: Get down at Sultanahmet Tram Station and walk for two minutes to reach Blue Mosque.

must visit blue mosque in istanbul

Hippodrome of Constantinople

Hippodrome of Constantinople was a social centre of Constantinople (the ancient capital city of the Roman Empire), mainly for the chariot race.

Today it is called Sultanahmet Square.

The hippodrome had many monuments, but today you can see only three: Serpent Column, Obelisk of Theodosius and Constantine Obelisk.

Entrance: Free

Open: 7 days a week

How to reach: It is two minute’s walk from the Blue Mosque.

Must visit Hippodrome in Istanbul

German Fountain

The German Fountain was made in Germany and then transported to Istanbul.

German Emperor Wilhelm II visited Istanbul in 1898, and in 1900 the Fountain was assembled in Istanbul at its current location, to commemorate the second anniversary of his visit.

The fountain has a dome covered with golden mosaic in the inside.

Entrance: Free

Open: 7 days a week

How to Reach: It is at the northern end of the Hippodrome.

Must visit german fountain in istanbul

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia was a church (AD 360- ) later a mosque (1453- ) and now a museum.

The first president of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk turned Hagia Sofia into a museum in 1935.

It is one of the most magnificent buildings in Istanbul, with an extraordinary façade and interior architecture.

You can see exquisite mosaics inside the museum. For the best view, go to the upper gallery.

Remember that to enter the museum you will have to wait in a long queue to buy the tickets. If you dislike waiting in the queue then you can buy a fast track ticket. Fast track tickets are nothing but pre-bought tickets by travel agents.

There will be agents selling the tickets at the top of your voice near the queue. You can easily recognise them but they charge you a few TL more than the actual price of the ticket.

Entrance: 72 TL

Open: April to October – 7 days in a week (9 A.M – 7 P.M)
November to March – Monday closed (9 A.M – 5 P.M)

How to reach: It is a two-minute walk from the German Fountain.

Must Visit Hagia Sofia in istanbul

Spice Market

Spice market also called as Egyptian market is one of the most beautiful markets you will ever see. The amalgam of colours and aroma makes Spice market extra special.

It was built in 1664 as a part of Yeni Mosque complex, but now it serves as a market which lures foodies, spice lovers, tourists and photographers from around the world.

Explore the market and buy some spices. Every spice that you could think of can be found here. If you are not a spice fan, then buy some Turkish Delight and dry fruits. You will find Turkish Delight in all flavours and colours.

Entrance: Free

Open: 7 days a week (9 A.M to 7 P.M)

How to reach: Get down at Eminönü Tram Station and talk a five-minute walk to reach Spice Market.

must visit spice market in istanbul

DAY 2: Explore the Old Town and Grand Bazaar

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern is one of the largest ancient cisterns which lie underneath the city.

It was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 6th century. It is called Basilica Cistern because there used to be a Basilica at the place of the Cistern.

The cistern has a 52 step staircase and is 140 m long.

As it now serves mainly as a tourist attraction, therefore only a little amount of water is maintained in the Cistern.
Visit the Cistern the first thing in the morning, as the queue to buy the ticket can be frustratingly long.

Entrance: 20 TL

Open : 7 days a week(9 A.M – 5:30 P.M)

How to Reach: It is a two minute’s walk from Sultanahmet Tram Station.

Tomb of Sultans

These are the Tombs of five Sultans of the Ottoman period also called as Prince Tombs.

The five tombs are those of:
Sultan Selim II, Sultan Murad III, Sultan Mehmed III, Sultan Mustafa I, Sultan Ibrahim I

You can enter the tombs from the back of Hagia Sofia. When you go towards Topkapi palace, the tombs will fall on your left.

Entry: Free

Open: April to October – 7 days in a week (9 A.M – 7 P.M)
November to March – Monday closed (9 A.M – 5 P.M)

How to Reach: It is a two minutes’ walk from Basilica Cistern

Ahmet Çeşmesi

Ahmet Çeşmesi (also known as Fountain of Sultan Ahmed III), is a beautiful square structure near the gate of the Topkapi Palace.

When you walk towards Topkapi palace(next destination) from the Tomb of Sultans, you will witness this magnificent structure which is worth taking a few pictures.

Entry: Free

Open: 7 days a week

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace was the residence of the Ottoman Sultans in the 15th century, but now it serves as a museum.

The palace has hundreds of rooms but only a few important rooms are accessible to the public. Apart from the main palace, the harem (residence of the female members of Sultan’s family) is also open to the public.

It has a collection of various things related to the Ottoman Empire on display, such as clothing, painting, weapons, silverware, holy relics and porcelain.

The Palace is huge and it will take you 3 to 4 hours to see the entire palace. It is a must-visit place in Istanbul to understand the history of the Ottoman Empire, with all their extravagant living standards.

Entry: Main Palace – 72 TL
Harem – 42 TL

Open: 6 days a week (Closed on Tuesday)
April 1st – October 2nd: 9 A.M – 6:45 P.M
October 2nd – April 1st: 9 A.M – 4:45 P.M

How to reach: It is a two minute’s walk from Ahmet Çeşmesi.

must visit topkapi palace in istanbul

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar needs no introduction and as the name suggests, it is huge. Like really HUGE. It has around 4000 shops and lies across 60 streets.

There are 22 entrances to the market and it can get a little confusing for the first-timers. Nonetheless, I still feel that it is a must-visit place in Istanbul, as it is a little world in itself.

If you are looking for something particular and running short on time then taking the right entrance is extremely important. If you are not sure about the entrance, then feel free to ask any local.

Entry: Free

Open: 6 days a week (9 A.M – 7 PM)
Closed on Sunday

How to reach: Get down at Beyazıt kapalı çarşı tram station and take a 5-minute walk to the Grand Bazaar.

must visit grand bazaar in istanbul

DAY 3: Explore the New City

Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace was built in the 19th century, along the Bosphorus shore, and was completed in 13 years. This palace is a must-visit place as it drips luxury and glamour.

The last of the Ottoman Sultans lived in this palace. This palace was also used by the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, but he resided in a very basic and a small room of the palace.

After the death of Atatürk in 1938, the palace was converted into a museum.

Please note that Photography inside the palace is prohibited.

Entry: Main Palace (Selamlik) – 60 TL
Harem – 40 TL
Combined Ticket – 90 TL
If you are short on time or find the ticket too expensive then you can skip the Harem part.

Open: 5 days a week (9 A.M- 4 P.M)
Closed on Monday and Thursday

How to reach: Get down at Kabataş tram station and take a 10-minute walk to the palace.

must visit dolmabache palace in istanbul


A visit to Istanbul would be incomplete without a Bosphorus cruise tour.

You can either take a private cruise or a public cruise depending upon your need.

Private cruise tours are expensive but at the same time, they are more flexible and allows you to take a tour in a private environment with a small group.

I took a public cruise tour to Bosphorus with Şehir Hatları (Istanbul’s official ferry company).

There are two types of cruise: Full Bosphorus Cruise and Short Bosphorus Cruise.

The full Bosphorus Cruise sailing time is approximately 6 hours, whereas the short Bosphorus Cruise sailing time is approximately 2 hours.

Depending upon the season the time of departure changes. You can check the timetable here.  

I recommend the short cruise over the full cruise if you are only for 2 to 3 days in Istanbul as the full cruise is a whole day activity.

Price: Public Cruise (12 TL- 25 TL)
Private Cruise (200 – 1000 £)

How to reach: To take the public cruise, get down at Eminönuö tram station and on the opposite side you can find Şehir Hatları sales office.

Galata Tower

Galata Tower was built in the 14th century and was initially called the Tower of Christ.

Under the Ottoman Empire, the Tower went through many renovations and was used for military purposes during the time of war. During peaceful times, the Tower was used to spot fires in Istanbul.

In the 20th century, the roof was rebuilt and the wooden interiors were replaced with concrete. It was then made open to the public.

You can reach the roof of the Tower to have a 360° view of the city. Surprisingly enough, the interior of the Galata Tower is extremely modern. There is a lift which takes you to the 7th floor and then you just have to climb two floors to reach the roof.

There is a restaurant on the top floor of the Tower to grab a bite if you are hungry with all the sight-seeing throughout the day.

Entry: 25 TL

Open: 7 days a week (9 A.M – 8:30 P.M)

How to reach: Get down at Karaköy tram station and talk a 10-minute walk to reach Galata Tower.
Karaköy is only one station away from Eminönuö.

Must visit galata tower in Istanbul

View from the top of Galata Tower

Taksim Square and Istiklal Street

Taksim square and the neighbouring Istiklal street will for sure win your heart. It is a lively place from dusk to dawn.

Taksim Square and Istiklal Street are must-visit places in Istanbul.

At the centre of the Taksim square is the Monument of the Republic. The monument feature Atatürk, the Turkish army and other prominent figures.

From the centre make your way to the famous Istiklal Street and do some shopping, watch various artists perform, eat good food and enjoy the lively vibes the place.

Entry: Free

Open: 7 days a week

How to reach: If you are not tired you can walk down to Taksim from Galata Tower. It will take you around 15 – 20 minutes to reach Taksim OR get down at Kabataş Tram station and take the Funicular line to Taksim.


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Planning a trip to Turkey and want to know the epic things to do in Istanbul? Click on the link to know how to spend perfect 3 days in Istanbul, Turkey. Read the post to know the best locations and must visit places, you can't miss, with a detailed 3 day itinerary. #turkey #istanbul #turkeytravel #istnabultravel #travel #itinerary #istanbulitinerary



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