Visiting Istanbul in three days is the guarantee of a successful long weekend. Firstly, because you will marvel at its 3113 mosques, each more beautiful than the next. Secondly, because its neighborhoods, Beyoğlu, Fatih, Eminönü, Kadiköy, Üsküdar, Şişli and Beşiktaş, are full of charm and contrast. Going from one to the other is disorienting and leads continuously from the East to the West.

We pass through the souks that smell good spices, we drink mint tea, we cruise on the Bosphorus, we enjoy kebabs and we enter wonderful Mosques. Along the Bosphorus, you can walk along the quays, breathe in the scent of incense, roses and loukoums. Once called Byzantium or Constantinople, this capital is rich in history and has many treasures.

Visit Istanbul in 3 days

Bizance is a city that never sleeps. Colorful and warm bazaars, mosques and palaces by the thousands, the stamboulian life along the Bosphorus, the atmosphere in the cafes and markets, the music under the bridges and the fishermen on them. It is very easy to get around by metro, streetcar, bus or boat.

In 3 days in Istanbul we didn’t feel like we were running and we were able to enjoy this city and many of its corners. We crossed and surveyed Sultanhamet, Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Eminömü, the old Galata, Beyoğlu, Taksim. We even took a short cruise on the Bosphorus to Üsküdar.

Tourist map of Istanbul

The map of Istanbul below shows you the monuments and places not to be missed during your visit

Tourist map of Istanbul

Book your accommodation and a guided day

Before you fly to Istanbul I recommend that you plan your visit at least a little, especially if you are only spending a long weekend there as there is so much to see and do :

➜ We recommend booking your nights in advance at the Katelya Hotel.  It’s right in the city center in the Sultanahmet district, just a 5 minute walk from the Blue Mosque.

What to do and see in Istanbul?

Here is an overview of what you can see and do in a weekend in Istanbul, in a few pictures.

Aperitifs and grilled fish on the Galata bridge

The Galata Bridge spans the Golden Horn and offers a breathtaking view of the city of Istanbul. It connects the sacred part of the city to its modern districts. It was here that we spent our first evening tasting local wines, feasting on grilled sardines and making contacts with Stamboulians and passing travelers. And then during the day, We watched the fishermen and boats pass by on the bosphorus. From here the view is superb

Galata Bridge

The narrow and spicy paths of the Grand Bazaar

The stalls make you dizzy, we wanted to taste everything and bring back kilos of spices, scents, fabrics and flavors of orients… Moreover, the decorated vaults gave us a torticollis by dint of raising the nose in the air.

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The most beautiful Mosques to visit in Istanbul

The mosques will inevitably punctuate your stay in Istanbul, hold on, there are 3113 in the city! And there are nearly 82,700 in all of Turkey. hey are all worth a visit but it will be impossible to go around them all, you will have to make choices. Among the most beautiful, we can mention :

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque is famous for its blue ceramics, hence its name. It is one of the historic mosques of Istanbul. It dates from 1609. Its entrance is free. Plan to spend a good hour there.

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The Süleymaniye Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent

This imperial Ottoman mosque of Istanbul was built for the sultan Soliman in 1550. Its entrance is free.

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The other mosques that we recommend :
  • Mosque of Rüstem Pasha
  • Fatih Camii Mosque (del Conquistatore)
  • Yavuz Selim Mosque
  • Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Camii Mosque

The Basilica of Saint Sophia

This ancient Christian basilica was erected under Constantinople in the 6th century. At the time of Sultan Mehmed II, in the 15th century, it was transformed into a mosque. Since 1934, it is no longer a place of worship but a museum. Majestic meeting between the Christian and Muslim tradition, you will not want to leave. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm, the entrance ticket costs about 10 €.

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Cruises on the Bosphorus

We left in the early morning to admire the contrasting shores of Istanbul. We could see many monuments like the palaces of Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi but also superb stambouliote houses. This unique strait of 32 km long separates the city in two but also Europe and Asia. A tour costs between 2€ and 6€ depending on the duration. For private tours, it is more expensive obviously

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The Topkapi Palace

This superb palace whose name means “palace of the door of the guns” is constituted of a part formerly reserved for the men and another for the women, it also has vast and beautiful gardens. Topkapi is worth spending at least one morning there! Located in the district of Fatih in the center of old Constantinople, it is next to the Blue Mosque and the Basilica of Saint Sophia. It overlooks the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. To visit the whole palace, count 14€ or 6€ only if you do not enter the harem. It opens at 9:00 am, closes at 4:30 pm in winter and at 7:00 pm in summer. Please note that it is closed on Tuesdays.

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And more…

So here are the six activities we recommend for a three-day stay in Istanbul.

We also went quickly to Gülhane Park, Galata Tower, and wandered around all the neighborhoods without exception, Beyoğlu, Fatih, Eminönü, Kadiköy, Üsküdar, Şişli and Beşiktas.