I have had many friends visit me from abroad and I have taken them on tours of Istanbul many times. In this itinerary, I have written up a three-day tour of Istanbul very similar to the ones I have taken with my friends. This itinerary is designed to be the perfect introduction to Istanbul for the first time visitor. The itinerary takes you to the iconic historical sites and shows you the many faces of Beyoğlu, the cultural heart of the city. It ends with a relaxing tour of the Bosphorus, so you can soak up the beauty of the scenery before you leave! I have included the "must-see" highlights like the Blue Mosque in the historical peninsula. That's not all though, the itinerary is packed with many experiences locals enjoy, like enjoying a kumpir in Ortaköy.
Istanbul is a big city and it has a long past. It has been the seat of power for two world empires: the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires. It has been a crossing point between continents and cultures throughout history. As you can imagine, there is A LOT to see and experience and three days are not nearly enough for all. This itinerary will help you by pointing out the most interesting things to see and it will help you locate them with maps and photos. By the end of the three days, you will have experienced the history, the cultural scene, and the scenic beauty of Istanbul. You will also have a wonderful culinary experience through my lunch/dinner suggestions throughout the three days.
The itinerary is centered around walking tours. While the distances walked are not huge and while I have planned many opportunities for taking breaks, you will be walking around a lot. I would like to point this out for travelers who may have difficulty with mobility.
I recommend reading the Appendix section BEFORE you arrive in Istanbul. By doing so, you will avoid any surprises and be ready to employ the tips and tricks included in this section. I even have some literary suggestions in this section; reading the suggested books will give you a better understanding of the culture and history you are about to experience.
Some of the highlights this itinerary will take you to are:
- Topkapı Palace
- Hagia Sophia
- Blue Mosque
- Grand Bazaar
- Istiklal Street
- Fish Bazaar and Flower Arcade
- Cihangir and Çukurcuma
- Museum of Innocence
- Bosphorus Ferry Ride
- Sadberk Hanım Museum