Istanbul in 3 Days
This is a 3 days guide to Istanbul, with a perfect 72 hours plan that will guide you on the best way to enjoy this amazing city. All tips, maps, costs, information is included, so that you feel like you are having your best friend with you showing you around Istanbul.
Where to Stay in Istanbul
Our favorite hotel recommendation for Istanbul is the Hotel: City Guest House Istanbul
Address: Kucukayasofya Mahallesi Akburcak Sok No 25 – Istanbul
Tel.: (0090) 212 518 27 55
Address/Reviews/Book it Online: Click Here to Read Reviews on Booking and Book the Hotel Online
Price / night: 150E [405TL] for triple room
Recommended: Yes. Spacious and clean rooms and very close to Hagia Sophia & Grand Bazaar. Its rating is 7.7 on Booking and we usually go for hotels that are more than 8 but in this case, we have been very happy with the hotel. Moreover, its location is something that will save you a lot of time.
Day 1 in Istanbul: Arrival, Top Monuments
09:45 Arrival at the Airport
Arrival at the Istanbul Atatürk Airport, which is 20 km west of the city center.
09:55 Take the luggage and pass from passport control.
Tip: It does not take more than 10 minutes to exit the passport control.
10:05 Take the metro from the airport to the city center, to go to the hotel (45 minutes trip). The Hotel is “City Guest House Istanbul”
Tip: View ZoomTip 1.1 and ZoomTip 1.2
11:30 Accommodate in the hotel and then visit the top monuments on foot.
Accommodate yourself in the hotel and then start your day visiting the famous monuments of the city, all by walking. Hagia Sophia Museum, built during the reign of Emperor Theodosius and burned down in the fire of Nika Revolt in 532 A.D, Blue Mosque famous with its heavenly six minarets, Topkapi Palace, the main residence of the Sultan and his Court, Hippodrome, Basilica Cistern are all very near and easy to reach on foot.
Tip: View ZoomTip 1.3
Hagia Sophia Ticket Price: 25 TL/person
Blue Mosque Ticket Price: Free
TopKapi Palace Ticket Price: 20TL
Harem Section Top Kapi: 15TL
Basilica Cistern Ticket Price: 10TL
16:30 Lunch at: Restaurant “Albura Kathisma”, Akbıyık Caddesi 26, Sultanahmet, tel. (0090)212 517 9031
Tip: Please try hünkar beğendi (lamb or beef goulash served on a mound of rich aubergine puree) and mantı (Turkish ravioli topped with yoghurt, tomato and butter).
17:30 Turkish Hammam at Cagaloglou Hammam.
Info: Phone: (0090) 212 522 24 24/ (0090) 212 512 85 53
For women it is open between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
For men it is open between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
This hammam is in the same district with the monuments, so it is very easy to reach.
20:00 Take the Tram from Sultanahmet to Eminonu and then the ferry from Eminonu to Kadikoy (20min). Taste Dondurma Ice-Cream
Here are the ferry schedules: Click Here
Ali Usta, Moda Caddesi 176/A, Moda, Kadıköy
Trip will cost 3.5 TL/person
22:00 Return to the hotel and rest
Istanbul 1st Day Map
Get this map online: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zg5djDmJ6KII.k7PVxjd8rEOM
ZoomTip 1.1: Transportation and ATM
There are various ways to get to the city center. It depends on the amount you can afford. I took the metro. The operating hours are only between 6 am and midnight.
Other options to get from Ataturk Airport to the center:
- Taxi: about 40- 48TL to Taksim and Sultanahmet. There is no night fare in Istanbul anymore – the price would be the same at midnight or midday.
- Havatas: the express bus service that departs half-hourly between 4AM-midnight and costs 10 TL to Taksim and Aksaray.
- The public bus (line #96T) that costs 5 TL (3.5 with İstanbulKart). It has fewer departure times now, due to Havatas, which is also a municipality engaged bus service.
Note: Turkish Liras (notes of TL5 and TL10 and coins) are necessary to buy fare card or tokens, in order to pay your fare on Metro and trams.
Where can I find Currency Exchanges and Cash Machines (ATMs)?
In the Arrivals hall outside the secure Customs area, in the baggage claim area. You can also find ATMs at the entrance to the Metro station.
How you can reach the metro:
After you have exited the secure Customs area, turn right and walk to the end of the terminal watching for the Metro signs. Follow the Metro signs along the broad underground concourse to the Havalimanı Airport Metro station on the left at the end. It is 10minutes walk from the airport to the Metro Line. You will take the Red Line M1 at the Metro Map towards Aksaray. You can obtain the metro paper map from the kiosk from the place you buy the tokens.
Before entering the metro station, it is necessary to buy a jeton (token) for 3TL per person. You can buy this either from the cashier- just hand 3TL and he will give you a token -, or from the Jetonmatik- automatic dispenser that vends tokens (jeton)
This machine accepts banknotes as well as coins. Press ‘select’ button to choose the number of tokens you want to buy and then push ‘ok’. You have to buy 2 Metro tokens per person from Atatürk Airport to Sultanahmet, Eminönü or Kabataş and 3 to reach Taksim Square. The price for each jeton is 1, 5 TL.
Note: They don’t accept credit card or foreign currency here.
ZoomTip 1.2: How to Get to the Hotel from the Airport
At start you take the metro from the Terminus Metro Station, Havalimani, and get off at Zeytinburnu, the 6th Metro stop. There, you have to buy another jeton (3TL), which is different from the first one.
From Zeytinburnu, take the T1 blue tram line Bağcılar-Kabataş towards Kabataş. The tram passes by Sultanahmet (Sultanahmet stop), where you have to get off. The huge Blue Mosque will be clearly in view about 300 meters to the south.
The trip from the airport to Sultanahmet takes about 45 min.
If the tram is already crowded and your luggage is bulky, you may want to wait for the next tram so that you have a better chance of getting a seat.
Beware of pickpockets. Take any valuables out of your pockets and put them under your clothes (a neck pouch is best). Having a seat is also a good way to reduce the danger from pickpockets who are most active on the crowded trams
Please find street-by-street guidance in Sultanahmet: Click Here
ZoomTip 1.3: Info on the Monuments
Summer Schedule: 15 APRİL -1 OCTOBER Visiting Hours: 09.00 – 19.00
Hours of Ticket Sale: 18:00
Winter Schedule: 1 OCTOBER- 15 APRİL Visiting Hours: 09:00- 17:00
Hours of Ticket Sale: 16:00.
Ticket Price: 25 TL.
Entrance Fee: Gratis
Remember: The mosque closes for 90 minutes at each pray time, so avoid visiting a mosque at pray time (Especially Midday praying on Friday) or within a half hour after the ezan is chanted from the Mosque minarets. Pray happens five times a day with the first call to prayer at sunrise and the last one at nightfall, so you would better arrive mid-morning. Before step in to Mosque, take off your shoes and put in plastic bags provided at the entrance. If you are women wear a head covering when entering to Blue Mosque. Head coverings are available at the Blue Mosque entrance for free. When you are inside the mosque, remain quiet and don’t use flash photography.
Hours: 09:00-17:00pm. Tickets are purchased in the gateway to the Second Court.
Ticket Price: 20 TL The Harem Section can be visited with a separate ticket in the ticket office near the Harem entrance with Ticket Price:15TL
Note: Topkapi Palace is really big, so you will spend half day for touring all of it. Do not program your visit on Tuesday, as it is closed.
Ticket Price: 10 TL
This is the end of the first day itinerary and tips from our “Istanbul in 3 Days” travel guide. You can get the complete guide by clicking here.