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3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

green bay, wi
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3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

Only my second trip outside the U.S. since i went to spain 15 years ago. I guess I needed some adventure (maybe going thru midlife crisis) so I booked a trip to Istanbul. Looking for any comments on my planned itinerary. I'm staying at

Name : Grand Liza

Address : Tiyatro Caddesi No:114 - Kumkapı 34303 - Istanbul

Day 1 -


Topkapi Palace


Blue Mosque

Byzantine Hippodrome

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art

Sunken Palace Cistern

A Turkish bath

Day 2 -

Divan Yolu(1 hr walking tour)

Kariye Museum

Grand Bazaar

Egyptian (Spice) Market

Day 3 -

Galata Bridge (stay 1/2 hr)

Galata Tower

Istiklal Caddesi

Taksim Square

Dolmabahce Palace

Military Museum

Can I really fit this all in over 3 days? If not, what should I remove? I love ancient history and architecture, new experiences and being exposed to new cultures.

thank you.

P.S. what is the best way to get around taxi's, tram, bus??

Montreal, Canada
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1. Re: 3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

I think day 1 is a very heavy schedule. Tokapi palace will take you half a day already. I suggest moving some visits onto day 3. Istidal caddesi and Taksim square can be done in the evening. Transport by tram is very convenient. Taxi is quite cheap but beware of the following scams: go around to simulate alonger trip and watch on your change as you pay your fare.

Perrysburg, Ohio
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2. Re: 3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

Hi Purple Wizard,

You definitely have way too many things scheduled for Day 1. You can see a lot (but not all) of what you have listed in three days, although you won't have a lot of leisure time and you'll have to plan the logistics carefully.

If I may make a suggestion, I'd reorganize my schedule as follows:


Haghia Sophia (morning)

Blue Mosque (morning)

Basilica Cistern (morning)

Hippodrome (morning)

Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts (Afternoon)

Turkish Bath (Late Afternoon/Early Evening)


Topkapi (Morning)

Divan Yolu (Walking Tour to Grand Bazaar)

Grand Bazaar (Afternoon)

Spice Bazaar (Afternoon)

Galata Bridge (Right After Spice Bazaar)

Galata Tower (Right After Galata Bridge)


Kariye Museum (morning)

Military Museum (afternoon)

Evenings are the best time to visit Istiklal Street/ Taksim Squre, so any (or all) of your evenings can be spent in that area. The whole area is lively until the wee hours of the morning.

I'd skip Dolmabahce completely, because you really don't have time for it. (Personally, I think it's the least interesting site in Istanbul.)

Also, since I don't know which days of the week you'll be in the city, you may have to switch the order of your "days" depending on what sites are closed those days. Note that the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays; Haghia Sophia & the Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts are closed on Mondays; Military Museum is closed on Mondays & Tuesdays); Topkapi is closed on Tuesdays; and Kariye Church is closed on Wednesdays. If you somehow manage to fit Dolmabahce in, note that it's closed on Mondays & Thursdays.


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3. Re: 3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

All that in three days? Not likely.

First step - buy an Istanbul guide book and start reading.

Second - after reading about the city and the sights, decide what you'd like to see and what to skip.

Third - Consider the time needed in each sight (Topkapi Palace = ~3 hours; Aya Sophia = ~2 hours; Cistern = ~ 30 minutes); getting to/fro Sultanahmet, the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Taksim, etc. Some activities must be done during the day, while others can wait until evening. Seeing the Hippodrome, walking along Istiklal Caddesi, Taksim Square, and taking a Turkish Bath can be done at night.

green bay, wi
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4. Re: 3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

Thanks for all the great info. How do I plan on getting from one destination to the next? I love using mapquest for U.S. destinations, but I'm a novice in internation travel.

Can anyone give information on how to plan the transportion from one location to another?

Mount Dora, Florida
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5. Re: 3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

Go to Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy of DK Eyewitness Guide to Istanbul, or order one from Amazon.

You can do a little reading about the places you want to visit. In the back of the book there is a good map of the public transportation system. Istanbul has an excellent public transportation system that you can use to reach most of the places you want to visit.

If you are staying in a hotel in Sultanahmet many of the things you want to see are just a short distance from one another. You can take the tram to reach the Grand Bazaar and then walk down hill through the little streets (where the real bargains are) to reach the Spice Bazaar. You can also take the tram to Galata Bridge, then the Tunel to Istiklal St. You can walk down Istiklal to Taksim or take the Nostalgic Tram, that runs down Istiklal.

A jeton for public transportation cost 1.5TL, and it is a great bargain.

To visit Chora Church and the Military Museum you will either need to take a bus or a taxi. I prefer to use a taxi. Taxi fees in Istanbul are reasonable. I think we paid 10TL from Sultanahmet to Chora Church. The Military Museum would be a little more expensive.

If you have DK Eyewitness you will also have some excellent maps in addition to the public transportation map. You can study these, even before you leave, to determine where things are located.

I have not used any of the mapping tools on the internet to locate places in Istanbul. I am sure there are internet sources, but I much prefer a good printed map.

Good Luck and Happy Travels!

Ruhr Area, Germany
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6. Re: 3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

Hi Purple wizard,

I don´t want to be impolite , but why did you chose exact this hotel? It hasn´t the best reviews and is located a bit far from all the main sites.

For the price you could get perhaps a hotel room in Sultanahmet or Sirkeci (Peninsula, Hanedan, Erboy, Agan) where you don´t waste much time for the approach.

But of course you can got to Sultanahmet either by the tram (you have to walk up the Tyiatro Caddesi or by foot, a nice walk across Kadirga area.

And I agree with the previous posters, skip the Dolmabahce and take some more time for the other attractions.

Enjoy your trip


Naples, Florida
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7. Re: 3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

I agree w/ the advice above. I made the mistake on my first visit of dashing from place to place w/o really absorbing any of what I was seeing. Some of the greatest beauty of IST is found by simply wandering aimlessly & soaking in the culture.

While I trust Osumom's (& BR's) vast knowledge of the city, I must chime in & respectfully disagree about the significance of Dolmabahce Palace. Granted, there are so many other important sites to include when you have so little time. But don't cross it off your list entirely should you ever return to IST. I was totally mesmerized by the opulent beauty & it's contrast to the somewhat drabness of the old city across the water. Historically, it put into perspective the vast difference between the "haves" & the "have nots" during the time of the Ottoman empire. Had I not seen DP (& Beylerbei Palace), a big piece of this extraordinary puzzle would still be missing.

I know this will be the greatest experience of your life so far. Happy travels.

Mount Dora, Florida
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8. Re: 3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

I personally love Dolmabahce Palace. I try to remind visitors that many people do not care for the Palace because of a couple of reasons. One is that it is similar to other European Palaces. Having not seen any other palaces, this is not a concern for me. I understand that people more well traveled in palace viewing may not care for it.

The other objection people have to this site is that everyone is forced to go with a tour guide, and the experience can be very rushed. My advice is to slow down and take your time. You pay for the opportunity of seeing the palace and you should linger where necessary. This means that you want to do some reading in advance because if you are at the last of the tour group you will not hear the rushed explanations of the official tour guide.

This place is very special to me because it is where Ataturk died, and I always feel somber and respectful when I stand near his bed. It is also easy to visualize the palace when it was occupied by heads of state and other dignitaries.

Sceaux, France
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9. Re: 3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

As patara said, why did you choose grand liza.It's located in kumkapi, from grand bazar to grand liza there is no bus, no tram, you'll have to walk in tiatro caddesi(street) down to the hotel, getting to grand bazar it's another story : the road is very hilly.The taxi costs 4 liras.If not you can cross the road from grand liza to kumkapi station and catch a train to sirkeci station(eminonu pier).

Good luck!

enjoy your holiday.

Sceaux, France
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10. Re: 3 days in Istanbul - comments on itinerary please.

In the military museum between 3 and 4pm, you could see the army orchestra : mehter takimi.The music is very beautiful.