Well, the bad news is that it is simply impossible to cover Istanbul in three days. After all, the city is just too vast and multi-layered to explore it to the full in just three days. You need at least a week to enjoy the city and its major attractions. However, if you just have three days here, then you must simply know how to make the most of it.
It is a great idea to look for one of those private tours in Istanbul and head for the fascinating highlights of this place. A major advantage of going with a local expert guide is that you can avoid wasting your time and efforts and zero in just the right spots. Istanbul is famous as a culturally rich destination and is indeed one of the most exotic cities in the world.
The iconic city of Istanbul enjoys an increasing influx of overseas visitors. Turkey’s capital boasts of a unique atmosphere made of distant sounds of Namaaz and epic sunsets. Here is how to spend your three days in Istanbul and enjoy a perfect holiday.
Start your day with a visit to the Topkapı Palace which now runs as a museum and showcases the Ottoman architecture. You must visit the Harem inside which is the most beautiful part of the palace. Once you have covered the Topkapı Palace, you can head for another famous structure, the Hagia Sofia where you can understand Istanbul’s history through its architecture. Squeeze in time for the 400 years old Blue Mosque that lies close to Hagia Sofia.
You can take a break here and look for some restaurants for lunch, and some good options are Mesale Café, Serbethane Cafe&Restaurant, Bella Mira Restaurant and more.
After lunch, you can head for Basilica Cistern that is just minutes from the Blue Mosque. Those ancient cisterns are more than 1500 years old, and the underground experience will make you feel as if you are back in the Byzantine era! Later, you can go to the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum that showcases centuries-old carpets and ceramics painted with calligraphy. The Hippodrome is another interesting spot that you must visit.
Head for Galata Tower in the evening for a great sunset view. You will love this place if you admire great viewpoints. Enjoy those panoramic views of Istanbul.
At night, you can explore the district of Beyoğlu for touristic restaurants that sell traditional food as well as Western-friendly fares. Meyhanes are the local restaurants that sell different salads, dips, seafood, and reflect the modern Turkish identity.
Keep the second day reserved for the old city and the famous markets. Head for the Suleymaniye Mosque that is well famous for that beautiful calligraphy inside. When you have seen the mosque, explore the Grand Bazaar that is just minutes away. The Grand Bazaar has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. The largest and the oldest open-air markets in the world sells just about anything, and you can haggle to any limits here.
After you are done with your shopping, it is time to relax and enjoy some lunch. One of the hidden pleasures of the Grand Bazaar are those back alleys and courtyards that offer great dining possibilities. Some favorite spots include Gaziantep Burç Ocakbaş, Kara Mehmet Kebap Salonu and Aynen Dürüm where one can enjoy delicious kebabs, grilled meat, flavourful dolmas and more.
After lunch, you can visit the Chora Church that is a bit outside of town. The ancient architecture of the church and its impressive Christian-inspired mosaics are sure to mesmerize you.
There is another site nearby which is worth seeing, and it is the city walls of Constantinople, that date back to the 5th century.
Explore Asitane that lies close to the walls of Constantinople and here you will come across many street food stalls and popular restaurants selling Ottoman dishes based on older recipes but with a modern twist.
Spend the morning in Taksim Square which is famous for great food and views as well as fantastic nightlife. You can spend some quality time here before heading for Istiklal Caddesi that houses the best places to shop in Istanbul.
You can take a break here and enjoy fresh fruits juices from street stands. Or, you can enjoy a great cup of coffee from one of the most popular bakeries here- Saray Muhallebicisi. You must try the pistachio baklava.
After a light lunch, you can head for Beyoğlu district that is bursting with antiques and very popular with tourists. The Museum of Innocence is another favorite spotty with tourists.
In the evening, you can take a ferry ride across the Bosphorus to enjoy the best views of the city. You will, of course, want a window seat as the views are stunning. There is plenty to see in Kadıköy, and it is indeed a heaven for foodies. Check out the Kadıköy market if you have time as there are countless restaurants and tea gardens here.
You can keep the night booked for a whirling dervish dance performance of Turkey. It is a must to see this unique religious dance and enjoy that unique experience.
There! You have just managed to cover the best of what Istanbul has to offer in those three days. It sure is not easy, but with a well-planned itinerary and a local private tour in Istanbul, you sure can squeeze in a lot.