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Istanbul itinerary 3 days

Istanbul, the former Constantinople, was once the wealthiest place on Earth. It was rich with its resources, surrounded by city walls that other emperors had trouble conquering. It developed systems that other places adopted and copied.

I visited Istanbul for 4 days during my trip to Turkey. And let me tell you, after visiting over 40 countries and hundreds of cities, Istanbul has made it to my top 3 favorites. The city is truly stunning and unique. So, I’ve created this itinerary based on my experience so you can have an equally great time and know what to expect.

So let’s visit Istanbul together.

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Overview Of The Istanbul Itinerary For 3 Days

To help you navigate through the article, here is a short overview of the sights I recommend visiting in Istanbul each day.

1. DAY: Istanbul In A Nutshell

📍 Sultan Ahmet Square
📍 Hagia Sophia
📍 Blue Mosque
📍 Arasta Bazaar
📍 Topkapi Palace
📍 Soguk Cesme Street

📍 Gülhane Park
📍 Marmarai Sirkeci
📍 Eminönü
📍 Galata Bridge
📍 Karaköy Funicular
📍 Galata Tower

2. DAY: Istanbul & Bazaars

📍 Grand Bazaar
📍 Spice Bazaar
📍 Eminönü Bazaar Streets

📍 Süleymaniye Mosque
📍 Bosphorus Cruise In The Evening

3. DAY: Asian Side Of Istanbul & Experiences

📍 Local Markets & Maiden’s Tower
📍 Emaar Skyview

📍 Food Tour In Istanbul
📍 Turkish Hammam

Map Of 3-Day Istanbul Itinerary With Sights

Below is a map of this 3-day itinerary with all its sights. Follow the signs during your walking tour and while exploring the city.

Interesting Facts: Istanbul In A Nutshell

Before we head to our 3-day itinerary, I’d like to briefly introduce the city to you. Here you have some interesting facts and historical milestones about the city:

💡 Istanbul is the only city located on 2 continents (Europe & Asia)
💡 During the Eastern Roman Empire, its name was Constantinople
💡 When the Ottomans took over, they renamed it Istanbul
💡 Its Grand Bazaar is the biggest old covered bazaar in the world
💡 Istanbul has the highest number of mosques – around 3110 mosques
💡 Tulips come originally from Istanbul; only later they were transported to the Netherlands
💡 The city has the third oldest underground system (after London and New York)
💡 Istanbul Card (for metro and transportation) comes from Istanbul – London copied the idea and created Oyster Card

Istanbul itinerary 3 days boat cruise Bosphorus straight
Me taking a boat to the Asian side

👉 READ ALSO: 9 Best Cappadocia Tours From Istanbul

1. DAY: Istanbul Itinerary

Istanbul walking tour Old Town

Good morning to Istanbul. Today, we’ll do a walking tour to see the highlights of its Old Town. Then, you’ll drive the oldest underground funicular and have the city’s best views from the Galata Tower.

In the evening, you’ll see Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque from a rooftop terrace, offering the most stunning views. Are you ready for your first day in this fantastic city? So let’s go for it. Follow the sites I suggest, take breaks on the way, and have fun.

Get Skip-The-Line Tickets For Attractions

I strongly recommend getting skip-the-line tickets for some attractions such as Topkapi Palace and Galata Tower. It’ll save you so much time.

You can get these tickets under the description of each sight. So purchase them before, and you don’t have to waste your time in Instabul standing in long lines.

📍 Sultan Ahmet Square

We’ll start our walking tour of the Istanbul Old Town in the most beautiful spot, Sultan Ahmet Square and park.

First, I want to draw your attention to the oldest monument in the entire IstanbulThe Obelisk of Theodosius, standing in the middle of the Hippodrome. It was brought from Egypt to celebrate the victory of a battle in the 15th century BC. It features many Latin and Greek inscriptions, about which you can learn during an organized walking tour.

Walk towards the park of Sultan Ahmet and stop at the magical fountain for some of the best photos and views of the Hagia Sophia Mosque.

📍 Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was a church before it was converted into a mosque. It was built back in 325 by Constantinople I. Its name comes from the Greek language, meaning ‘Holy Wisdom.’

When the city became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II. converted it into a mosque. He added the minarets, minbar pulpit, and great chandelier, the most significant parts of a mosque. It remained a mosque for the following 500 years before they made a museum out of it.

Nowadays, it serves as a mosque again, and you can see people coming for prayers from all over the world.

PRO TIP: I highly recommend leaving your visit for a late evening to avoid crowds of people. So for now, you can continue your walking tour, see it from the outside, and come back in the evening after 10:00pm.

➡ Visit the 3 most important mosques with a guide – book this guided tour and learn about the history and religion with a local guide (includes Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque & Süleymainye Mosque).

Hagia Sophia mosque Istanbul
Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul

📍 Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque is officially called the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. However, most people refer to it as the Blue Mosque, thanks to the beautiful 20000 blue tiles in its interior.

This mosque hosts the tomb of Sultan Ahmet. It’s also the only mosque in Istanbul that has 6 minarets. Back then, Mecca was the only one with 6 minarets, making it the most important mosque in the world. However, after Sultan Ahmet built 6 minarets for the Blue Mosque, it was regarded as a big disrespect to the Kaaba. So Sultan Ahmet paid to construct a seventh minaret for Mecca.

Nowadays, it’s one of the world’s largest mosques.

➡ Visit the 3 most important mosques with a guide – book this guided tour and learn about the history and religion with a local guide (includes Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque & Süleymainye Mosque).

What is Istanbul known for Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque – Istanbul

📍 Arasta Bazaar

Welcome to your first Turkish bazaar. We’re starting it lightly. This bazaar is far from the craziness you’ll experience in other bazaars in Istanbul over the next few days.

Arasta Bazaar is just one street full of interesting shops selling various goods such as fabrics, clothes and scarfs, Turkish delight, ceramics, and more.

FUN FACT: Rent from the shops goes on the reconstruction and maintenance of the Blue Mosque.

Try your first Turkish coffee and tea and speak to the salesmen. But don’t let them fool you when it comes to buying. Be wise; if the deal is not good, kindly reject them and walk away.

Once you have enough, continue your walking tour towards the Topkapi Palace.

Istanbul itinerary 3 days Arasta Bazaar
Arasta Bazaar

📍 Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace was the main residence of sultans when Istanbul was part of the Ottoman Empire. At that time, it was home to over 5000 people. With over 1000 employers, the kitchen itself had to prepare more than 6000 meals a day. So just imagine what a significant place it was.

It was the heart of the entire Empire, the center of administration, and even an educational institution. It was here where the coins of the Ottoman Empire, as well as Turkish coins, were made.

Nowadays, it’s a museum and welcomes thousands of visitors each day. So go inside, learn how the sultans lived here, and see those beautifully decorated rooms.

Book this guided tour if you want to learn about the history of Topkapi Palace with a local guide. You’ll also skip the line with it, so it’ll save you a lot of time to see other sights.

📍 Soguk Cesme Street

This street is one of the most attractive streets in the city. It’s full of traditional Ottoman houses converted into boutique hotels. The English name of the street is ‘Cold Fountain.’

You can also visit the Carpet Museum and the former Byzantine cistern, which has been converted into a restaurant.

📍 Gülhane Park

After walking through Soguk Cesme street, you’ll reach the entrance gate of the most beautiful garden parks in Istanbul. Welcome to the Gülhane Park. This is a perfect time to rest before the second part of your walking tour.

Buy the traditional Turkish sesame pretzel (Turkish Simit) and sit for a while enjoying the beauty of this park.

Gulhane Park
Gülhane Park

📍 Marmarai Sirkeci

Then make your way down to Istanbul’s train station. I’ve brought you here as it used to be the stop of the famous Orient Express train.

Many celebrities came here on the Orient Express to admire the richest city. They stayed in the most famous hotels and then continued traveling further to other parts of Europe or Asia for trade.

FUN FACT: One of them was the British author Agatha Christie, who wrote her novel ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, while staying in the Pera Palas Hotel in Istanbul.

📍 Eminönü

Welcome to Eminönü, the oldest part of the city, from where other neighborhoods expanded. It’s located on the southern side of the Golden Horn, the famous urban waterway flowing into the Bosphorus. We’ll be soon crossing the Galata Bridge to explore the other side of it.

Eminönü is mainly famous for its fish boats selling fish sandwiches on the harbor. You should definitely try one, as it’s one of the most typical dishes in Istanbul, served together with pickled juice.

Eminönü is also a great place to start exploring Istanbul’s bazaars. Right across the street, there is the spice market. And once you come out of it, there are many streets full of shops selling different stuff.

PRO TIP: ‘Sokak Lezzeti’, a small stall in the Karaköy district. (just across the Galata Bridge), has even a better fish wrap. I highly recommend to try it, too. Get the fish sandwich at Eminönü for the experience, and the fish wrap at Sokak Lezzeti for the taste.

Is Istanbul safe for Americans safest areas and neighborhoods
Eminönü – Safest areas and neighborhoods

📍 Galata Bridge

Galata Bridge expands across the Golden Horn, from the Eminönü district to the Karaköy district of Istanbul. It’s famous for its fishermen standing all across, trying to catch the fish. On the lower part are many seafood restaurants.

However, I don’t recommend eating there as they’re very touristy and normally overpriced.

Galata Bridge is especially beautiful at night, with all its lights reflected in the waters of the Golden Horn. Cross the bridge to the other side, where we’ll take the oldest funicular in Istanbul.

👉 READ ALSO: 33 Famous Turkey Landmarks To Visit

📍 Karaköy Funicular

Let’s take the Karaköy underground funicular now. It’s the oldest in the city, and the second oldest underground transport in the world, after London’s tube. Its underground tunnel is 573 meters long and 6.6 meters wide. You can use your Istanbul card for the ride.

It takes you from Karaköy to Beyoglu station. Once you’re up at Beyoglu, walk slightly further, and you’ll get to the Istiklal Caddesi Street, the most famous shopping street in Istanbul. It’s also the place of the historical ‘Nostalgia’ tram.

Walk through the street, get some food or sit down for a coffee and Turkish tea. After, get to the last point of our walking tour, the Galata Tower.

Is Istanbul safe for Americans - public transportation
Public transportation – Second oldest underground transportaion connecting Karaköy and Beyoğlu

📍 Galata Tower

Galata Tower is still located on the European side of Istanbul, not to get confused. Offers some of the best views of the city, Golden Horn, and the Bosphorus Straight, which created a natural border between Europe and Asia.

It was built in the 14th century by the Republic of Genoa. This district used to be a colony of the Republic of Geno, so that’s why they constructed it. It was part of the entire Citadel of Galata, torn down during the Sack of Constantinople, one planned thing of the 4th Crusade.

So only the Galata Tower was left from the entire complex. It was then mainly used to watch and prevent the city from fires.

Galata Tower is usually super crowded – skip the link by getting this ticket with an audio guide. Don’t waste time in the crowds and go in straight away by clicking this link.

Galata Tower
Galata Tower
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This is our walking tour of the historical part of the old city of Istanbul. I recommend doing it on the first day of your Istanbul itinerary. It’ll enable you to better understand the city’s history. You’ll also gain a general understanding of its culture and the people around it.

Then spend some time around the fountain in Sultan Ahmet Park. Finally, end your day visiting Hagia Sophia. Watch the prayer inside, calm down, and enjoy its unique atmosphere.

Istanbul Guided Walking Tour

Join this guided tour of Istanbul, see the highlights, and hear interesting stories from your local guide.

👉 READ ALSO: What Is Istanbul Know For? 21 Reasons To Visit

2. DAY: Istanbul Itinerary

istanbul itinerary 3 days bazaar and bargain like a local

Istanbul’s bazaars are vast, crazy, chaotic, and I could go on with descriptions. That’s why I’ve dedicated almost an entire day for their visit.

Once you get in, it’s sometimes difficult to get out. One reason would be the salespeople constantly attracting you to their shop, offering you all kinds of Turkish delights or tea to try. Another would be the huge area or the endless options of things you can buy here.

It’s an activity and experience on its own. You’ll get to talk to Turkish people, understand them, see how they drink tea all the time, and learn about their products and culture.

How To Bargain In A Turkish Bazaar

To be successful in having a good time inside the bazaar, you’ll first need to learn some bargaining skills.

So, let me give you a quick yet effective lesson for bargaining in the Turkish bazaars. Be strong and stand up for what you want. Not that you walk away disappointed, feeling like you’ve just been robbed and Turkish people are the worst in the world. Because they’re not. They just want to sell stuff, so don’t blame them for that.

1. TIP: Cleary Express What You Want

Your role is just to keep saying what you want and if they don’t accept it (whether it’s the price or some extra stuff they offered you and you don’t want it), walk away. There are so many other shops selling the same things.

2. TIP: Don’t Feel Bad About Tasting & Then Leaving

You shouldn’t feel bad about leaving the shop after you’ve spent 15 minutes there drinking coffee and tea and trying all kinds of Turkish delight and spices. They gave it to you, and so you tried it… there is nothing to feel bad about. That’s how they make the trade.

3. TIP: Walk Away If You Don’t Feel Comfortable

If any salesman is being too harsh on you, forcing you to buy stuff, and giving you all those presents into the bag that you don’t even realize it’s all so overpriced (believe me, that can happen)… Just walk away straight. Don’t even talk to him. This is not how you make people farly buy your stuff; I am sorry.

Turkish tea culture in Grand Bazaar
Turkish tea culture in Grand Bazaar

How To Find Out A Good Price Of Goods

To feel like you’ve done a good job bargaining, you first have to know the approximate/real price for the things. But how do you determine the real price if there are thousands of shops and everybody has a different rate?

Well, that’s easy. First, just walk through the bazaar and try to remember where the shops from which you want to buy something are located. For example, let’s say you want to buy a good Turkish delight.

Locate All Shops With Turkish Delight & Taste

So walk through and find all the Turkish delight shops. Go even to different bazaars in the city. Enter each shop and let them give you a sample of it. Try how you like it and ask them for a price. Remember the price and try to bring it down. See how they’re willing to bargain and treat you as a customer.

Remember Prices In Each Shop

Then thank them and walk away. Do this with as many shops selling Turkish delight as possible. Try to remember the prices, taste, and atmosphere.

Cheapest Turkish Delight = Approximate Price

Eventually, see which shop has the cheapest Turkish delight. This is the approximate/real price of a Turkish delight. You should take the price and refer to it when buying it in any other shop.

What Is A Good Price For Turkish Delight?

If you want to know, a good price for 1kg of Turkish delight is about 130 Turkish lira (approximately 7 USD or 7 EUR). That’s what I learned while practicing my bargaining skills in Istanbul and trying to buy the best yet cheapest Turkish delight possible.

But you might find even a better price. So go out there and try. Most importantly, have fun.

👉 READ ALSO: 19 Best Things To Do In Pamukkale Turkey

Best Bazaars To Visit In Istanbul

So now that you know how to bargain and go around Turkish bazaars let’s head into them.

Firstly, I recommend you visit the famous Grand Bazaar, one of the top Turkish landmarks. Afterward, you can go to the Spice Bazaar, one of the city’s most beautiful bazaars.

Then spend some time in the Street Bazaar of Eminönü and get the best baklava.

📍 Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s biggest and most visited markets. Around 91 million people visit it every single year.

It was built in the 15th century and commissioned by Sultan Mehmet II. He wanted the city to be the trading center of the Ottoman Empire. His intention was to mainly trade jewelry and textile. In the 17th century, it became the center of the Mediterranean trade, connecting 2 continents.

Nowadays, you can find everything you can think of inside this one-roof market. The idea of having a closed place for shopping was mainly for security reasons. It helped to decrease fire risk as well as theft.

➡ I booked this guided tour of the Grand Bazaar and had the best experience ever. Our guide pointed out the best shops (even one where celebrities and Hollywood movie makers come to buy fabric) and even took us for tea. So click this link and book this guided tour of the Grand Bazaar for the best experience.

Is Turkey worth visiting Grand Bazaar Istanbul
Me exploring Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

📍 Spice Bazaar & Eminönü Bazaar Streets

Afterward, you can go to the Spice Bazaar and the nearby streets on your own and get the best baklava.

Once you come out of the Spice Bazaar, get lost in the street bazaar around. Try to locate a baklava shop and get some of the best baklava in the city. It’s called ‘ASI Künefeleri’.

FUN FACT: Typical Turkish baklava is slightly different from that of Greece and other countries. Turks like to prepare it also cold. This type of baklava is soaked in milk and sprinkled with cocoa. It has a lot less sugar as they don’t use so much sugar syrup. They also refer to it as diet baklava.

➡ To have an even better experience, book this guided tour of Spice Bazaar. You’ll also visit the Grand Bazaar and taste Turkish coffee with locals. Click this link and book a guided tour of the best bazaars.

Is Istanbul safe for Americans bargaining and shopping in bazaar
Bargaining and shopping in Istanbul’s bazaar

📍 Süleymaniye Mosque

In the afternoon, I recommend switching to a quiet place once you have enough of the bazaars and the chaos. It’s a great time to visit the Süleymaniye Mosque.

It’s one of the most beautiful mosques I’ve seen, with a special atmosphere. So go inside, calm down, and enjoy the quietness.

The mosque has 4 minarets and 10 balconies. The minarets represent 4 sultans that took over the city after conquering Constantinople. And the 10 balconies represent Suleyman being the 10th Ottoman sultan.

➡ Visit the 3 most important mosques with a guide – book this guided tour and learn about the history and religion with a local guide (includes Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque & Süleymainye Mosque).

Istanbul itinerary 3 days Suleymaniye Mosque
Me visiting Suleymaniye Mosque

Speak To Volunteers & Visit Their Cultural Center

What is special about this mosque are the volunteers, ready to answer all your questions about Muslims, Islam, and even other religions. You can just approach them and ask whatever you feel like.

It was one of the most enriching experiences in Istanbul for me. They’ll also invite you to their religious center for a cup of coffee and tea and to chat with them. Anybody can go inside and have a chat with them.

Go inside the mosque’s park for other amazing views of the city.

📍 Bosphorus Cruise In The Evening

Today in the evening, I highly recommend doing the Bosphorus cruise. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. So go for it at 8:00pm, starting at the Eminönü pier. That way, you’ll also enjoy the sunset during the cruise. Come to the pier at 7:30pm to secure your spot.

The ticket office says ‘Bosphorus Cruise,’ and sells the cruise for about 7 EUR/USD per person. This is the one of the best cruises you can do. Others are touristy and quite overpriced.

Click here if you want a unique experience, do the Bosphorus Cruise at night with dinner. Book this Bosphorus Cruise with a private dinner table.

What is Istanbul known for Bosphorus Strait & Cruise
Bosphorus Strait & Cruise

👉 READ ALSO: Best Of Turkey Itinerary 10 Days

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3. Day: Istanbul Itinerary

Asian side of Istanbul on a boat

Let’s explore the Asian side today as part of our itinerary. Take your time in the morning and have a great breakfast with Turkish coffee.

Afterward, head to Eminönü, where you’ll catch a boat across the waters to Asia.

The boats run regularly throughout the day. You’re looking for the one going to Üsküdar. So ask around at Eminönü to be sure you hop on the right one.

Enjoy the boat ride. It’s one of the best things to do in Istanbul for sure.

Istanbul itinerary 3 days Europe and Asia boat time
Me crossing from Europe to Asia on a boat – Istanbul

📍 Local Markets & Maiden’s Tower

Once you get to Üsküdar, walk to the local markets and get the vibe there. Then sit down for a tea or coffee and relax for a while.

After, you can walk alongside the sea on the promenade towards Maiden’s Tower.

Istanbul itinerary 3 days Asian side
Asian side of Istanbul

📍 Emaar Skyview

Then I invite you to visit the Emaar Skyview (Seyir Terasi), the observation deck, for other stunning views. It’s the newest attraction in the city.

Climb up to the 48th floor of the building and walk on the glass terrace. Enjoy the spectacular 360° view of Istanbul from there. You can make some of the coolest photos on the terrace.

Further activities I highly recommend you do in Istanbul are a food tour and/or a Turkish hammam experience.

Food Tour In Istanbul

Join this food tour in Istanbul and experience the best street food, culture, and atmosphere with a local guide.

Turkish Hammam Experience

Experience traditional Turkish Hammam in the center of Istanbul. Book this experience, treat yourself, and relax.

Practical Tips For Visiting Istanbul

I also have some tips to help you plan your visit to Istanbul. See how to get to the city and how to get around, the best time to visit, safety tips, where to stay, and the best places to eat:

How To Get To Istanbul

Getting to Istanbul is easy as it’s well-connected with other major cities worldwide.

Istanbul has 2 international airports, one on the European Side (IST) and the other on the Asian side called Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW).

You can take a bus from the airport that takes you directly to the city center or a taxi. Be aware of taxi scams that occur sometimes.

You can also book this private transfer from the airport to Istanbul.

If you’re arriving from Cappadocia, it’s well-connected by bus, too. You can easily take a bus from Nevsehir (the biggest city in Cappadocia) to Istanbul. But this bus ride can take between 9 to 12 hours, just to let you know.

Alternatively, you can fly directly to Istanbul from Cappadocia (Nevsehir) or other major cities.

How To Get Around Istanbul

Getting around Istanbul is also easy, thanks to its great transportation system.

The best way to get around is to get the Istanbul Card. It enables you to travel in Istanbul on a subway, trams, buses, and even boats. You top it up as you go and how much you want (it’s the same system as Oyster Card in London).

You can get Istanbul Card in any metro or bus station in a machine. The card costs 50 Turkish Lira. On top of that, you have to charge it with some credit, the minimum is 50 Lira, or you can top up more.

➡ You can also book this Istanbul Card to make it even more hassle-free. It also comes with a free e-brochure, a map of the city and attractions, audio guides, and discount codes for activities in Istanbul.

Istanbul itinerary 3 days boat cruise Bosphorus straight
Boat cruise – Bosphorus straight

Best Time To Visit Istanbul

The best time to visit Istanbul is in May, June, September, and October. These months are less crowded, and the weather is usually perfect.

You can also visit the city in the summer, June, July, and August, but be prepared for the sights to be more crowded and expect slightly higher prices.

Is 3 Days In Istanbul Enough?

Yes, 3 days is the perfect time to explore Istanbul. I visited the city for 3 days, had a great time, and saw the most important sights with the city’s best activities.

If you want to do more guided tours and enjoy extra activities such as Turkish Hammam, an ideal time in Istanbul would be to stay up to 5 days.

Where To Stay In Istanbul: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

It’s important to choose the area where you’ll choose to stay and book your hotel wisely. Some areas are not so safe. Generally, I recommend booking your hotel in one of these 3 neighborhoods in Istanbul:


✅ Best Hotels In Sultanahmet – Istanbul

These are some of the best hotels in the historical city center of Istanbul. It’s a great area if you want to treat yourself and stay in a more luxurious hotel with amazing facilities. But you’ll also find many budget-friendly options.

Check out the prices and book your hotel stay by clicking on the hotel names below:

🔆 Efzen HotelBest Budget-Friendly Hotelbook here
🔆 Hotel NovanoBest Mid-Range Hotelbook here
🔆 Tria Hotel IstanbulBest Luxury Hotelbook here

✅ Best Hotels In Fatih/Eminönü – Istanbul

Here are some of the best hotels in the Fatih/Eminönü area of Istanbul. Check them out and click on the hotel names to see prices and book your room:

🔆 Crowned Plus HotelBest Budget-Friendly Hotelbook here
🔆 Golden Royal HotelBest Mid-Range Hotelbook here
🔆 Cronton Design HotelBest Luxury Hotelbook here

Best Places To Eat In Istanbul

In the evening, I recommend having dinner in the old city.

Generally speaking, if you want to enjoy Istanbul street food, go to Hoca Paşa Street in the old town. That’s where a whole section with restaurants is. Then walk towards the spice bazaar, and the restaurants are all around. This is one of the best places in Istanbul to eat.

To be more specific here are some great restaurants you should try in Istanbul:

  • Last Ottoman Cafe & Restaurant – for one of the best pottery kebab
  • Saltanat Fish & Kebab House
  • 360 Istanbul – goood food and stunning views of the city
  • Roof Mezze 360
  • Sultanahmet Ottoman Terrace Fishouse – for the best seafood
Istanbul street food baklava
Me enjoying Turkish Baklava

Food To Try In Istanbul Turkey

I know it can be overwhelming when choosing your food in a new country. So here is a basic list of food you have to try in Istanbul:

  • Meze – small plates of various starters and spreads
  • Manti – handmade meat dumplings with yogurt
  • Pottery Kebab
  • Nohutlu Pilaf (my favorite, yet very simple) – pilaf rice with chicken stripes and chickpeas
  • Köfte – meat patties similar to meat balls
  • Icli Köfte – stuffed fried meat ball
  • Islak Hamburger
  • Lahcun & Pide –  traditional Turkish pizza
  • Gözleme – thin bread stuffed with cheese and spinach
  • Kelle Paca – traditional Turkish lamb soup

Best Roof Top Views In Istanbul

Head to the Seven Hills Restaurant for the best views of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

For nice evenings on rooftop bars with coctails/food, you can choose from the following rooftop bars and restaurants:

  • Spago Istanbul
  • Ay’a Rooftop Lounge
  • 5. Kat
  • Mesai Bar
  • Ritz Carlton Rooftop Bar

Best Beaches In & Around Istanbul

If you fancy a beach gateway and want to spend a few days on a beach close to the city, I have the best beaches in and around Istanbul for you. If you want to visit some, they’re either on the Marmara Sea or the Black Sea.

Here is a list of the best beaches in Istanbul you can enjoy:

  • Burc Beach
  • Kilyos Bamboo Beach
  • Solar Beach
  • Sile Beach
  • Agva Beach

Is Istanbul Safe?

Yes, Istanbul is a safe city to visit. There are some areas I recommend avoiding, but if you stay in the touristy areas and the center, you’ll be fine. I felt safe throughout my entire visit.

Istanbul and Turkey rank 96 on the Safety Index by Global Resident, safer than major cities in the USA, Egypt, Russia, and Tunisia.

I’ve also written a separate article about safety in Istanbul, so check it out. It contains safety tips, areas you should avoid, and what to watch out for when it comes to crime, pickpockets, and thefts.

3-Day Istanbul Package

If you don’t feel comfortable getting around to Istanbul by yourself or don’t want to plan anything, you can also book a package.

This 3-day Istanbul package includes airport transfer, food, a guided tour of all city highlights, a visit to a nearby island, and a cruise. So if you want everything to be taken care of and have the best experience in Istanbul with locals, check out this Istanbul Package for 3 days.

Book this 3-Day Istanbul Package if you want to have everything organized for your visit.

BONUS: 10-Day Turkey Itinerary

When I visited Istanbul, I also explored other beautiful places in Turkey. Thanks to my experience, I’ve created a detailed 10-day itinerary so you can see the country’s highlights. Follow my itinerary and enjoy Turkey to the fullest by clicking on the image below:


To help you have the best possible experience in the city, I’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions. Check them out below.

How Many Days Is Ideal For Istanbul?

3 to 5 days is the ideal time to visit Istanbul. Three days is the basic time to explore all the city’s highlights. If you want to do extra guided tours, Turkish Hammam, and book more experiences (like a day trip), five days is a great time for Istanbul.

Is Istanbul Safe?

Yes, Istanbul is a safe city. While it has some dangerous areas, you’ll be safe visiting all the main attractions in the city center. Be aware of possible scams and pickpockets during your stay. But overall, Istanbul is a great city, and I always felt safe when I was visiting.

Is Turkey Worth Visiting?

Yes, Turkey is 100% worth visiting. Its unique culture, Turkish hospitality, historical sites, and beautiful nature will surprise you. Turkey is such a diverse country, and it deserves to be explored by you – traveler. Learn more about the reasons why Turkey is worth visiting.

WRAP-UP: Istanbul Itinerary 3 Days

This is my 3-day Istanbul itinerary for you. Take it and explore the highlights of the city. It’ll help you skip the planning, and I’ve included everything to make it easier for you. Istanbul is one of my favorite cities, and I highly recommend you see it, too.

If you have any questions, contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com. I’ll gladly help you or design a customized travel itinerary for your trip.

Happy Travels!

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About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

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