This is a 3 Day / 4 Night travel itinerary for Istanbul and it is assumed that you would have reached Istanbul on Day 0 before starting your activities on Day 1.
First a note about Public Transport
Beware of Taxi Drivers. Taxi drivers in Istanbul are notorious for tricking the passengers. On the other hand, Istanbul has a very good Rapid Transit system and its covers almost every place you would like to visit as a tourist. Check out the below map of Istanbul Tram’s, trains and Funiculars.
Where to stay
Mostly tourists stay either in Taksim Square Area or in Sultanahmet district when traveling to Istanbul. Taksim Square has comparatively modern and upscale hotels and has better access all across the city using Metro whereas Sultanahmet has advantage of having many tourist attractions within close distance. In creating this itinerary, we assume that you are staying in Taksim Square area.
Day 1 Morning:
Visit Dolmabahçe Palace (Duration: approx 4 hours, Closed every Monday). Take Taksim to Kabataş Funicular (Line F1). (Taksim Square has a big underground metro station). From Kabataş Station its just a 5 minutes walk while keeping the sea on your right side. Remember to buy ticket for full tour of Palace including Imperial Harem of Sultan. You wouldn’t be allowed to take picture inside the Palace so take as much pictures outside as you can.
Day 1 Evening: Spend evening in Ortaköy. If you want some amazing views of Bosphorus at night sitting in a lush cafe with vibrant atmosphere then Ortaköy is your place. If you love Photography, this place is a must visit. Best way to reach From Taksim is to take F1 line to Kabataş from underground metro station in Taksim Square and then take a bus from Kabataş to Ortaköy. Many buses goto Ortaköy including Bus #22, 22B, 25E, DT1 etc.
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DAY 2 morning: Goto Blue Mosque aka Sultanahmet Mosque. Take Taksim to Kabatas Funicular (Line F1) then come out upstairs on road and you will find Tram station for line T1 infront of you which will take you to Sultanahmet. Drop off at Blue mosque and Visit both Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia (Hagia Sofia). Previously Aya Sofia used to be closed on Mondays but from 1st April 2019, it is open on Mondays also until further notice. It is a good idea to check their official website before visiting.
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Get back on metro(in the same direction from where you arrived) after visiting both places. Your next destination is Grand Bazaar which is the 2nd stop (Beyazit) from Sultanahmet. Grand Bazaar is one of the famous tourist attractions of Istanbul. Bargaining and negotiating the price is a must before buying any souvenirs.
Day 2 afternoon & Evening: Take a 2 hours Bosphorus cruise. You can get one from Şehir Hatları in Eminonu. We recommend to avoid any people trying to sell private ferry tours and stick with only Şehir Hatları. Take their short cruise of 2 hours. Reach back Eminonu by sunset time and spend some lazy time over there watching boats, birds and Galata Tower from across the water. Have dinner in some nice seafood restaurant at Galata Bridge and head over to Galata Tower. We strongly recommend to take up the lift to top floor of Galata Tower. The views from top specially in the evening are worth the time you will wait in queue for elevator. After Galata tower, head back to your hotel in Taksim square via Istiqlal Street. You can either walk in Istiqlal street for 20 minutes to reach Taksim Square and enjoy the vibrant environment and retail outlets. Or you can take the Istanbul’s Nostalgic Tram (T2)
DAY 3 Morning: Visit Topkapi Palace (Duration: Minimum 4 hours, closed on Tuesdays. Click here to check latest schedules). For lunch, take a ferry from Eminonu and goto Asian side called Kadıköy (Caution: Kadıköy is different than Karaköy. Make sure you are going to correct destination). Our favorite restaurant over there is Ciya Kebap.
Day 3 Evening: Time to pack your bags and head to airport. Just make sure that you are heading to correct airport as Istanbul has 2 International airports. One in Asian side and one in European side.
Getting to Istanbul
All UAE based airlines have daily non-stop flights to Istanbul. In addition, Turkish airline and Pegasus also fly non-stop from Dubai to Istanbul.
- Both Turkish Lira and Euro are accepted in Istanbul. Hotels may specially ask you to pay in Euro. Keep them with you.
- Keep 1, 2 Lira or 1,2 Euro coins with you for airport luggage trolley
- Buy IstanbulKart for fare payment on public transport. They can be purchased for 6TL from vending machines on entrance of metro stations.
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