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Is 4 days enough in Istanbul? Yes, absolutely! In fact, 4 days in Istanbul is the perfect amount of time to spend in this wonderful city which is split between Europe and Asia! In this post, I’m going to give you my recommended Istanbul 4 day itinerary based on my time in this city as a tourist and a blogger living here for a few months! I really love this city!
I’ll go through what to do in Istanbul in 4 days including all of the top Istanbul attractions, but also unique things to do in Istanbul and hidden gems in Istanbul to visit because seeing a lot of Istanbul in 4 days is certainly possible so you’ll have time to get off the beaten track a bit!
Istanbul Itinerary 4 Days
Where To Stay in Istanbul
First off, before we get into planning your 4-day Istanbul itinerary, you’ll need to know where to stay in Istanbul.
This city is huge and there are many different areas to stay in in Istanbul! Personally, I recommend staying around Galata because it’s a lovely neighbourhood and also Besiktas which is very central but more local.
From these locations, it will be easy to follow this Istanbul itinerary!
Do you have Travel Insurance and Covid-19 Insurance for this trip, or any other trip you’re taking soon??
One of the first companies to offer Covid-19 insurance is SafetyWing and this is who I am insured with!
With SafetyWing you can choose the exact dates you are away for whether that’s 3 days or 2 weeks, and if you are going on a longterm trip you can get insurance that renews every 4 weeks and can be cancelled whenever!
Day 1 – 4 Days in Istanbul
Landing in Istanbul – You’ll want to be connected in Istanbul and luckily, it’s really easy to get a sim card at both Istanbul Airports! Here is help for buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport and buying a sim card at Istanbul SAW Airport and then you’ll have data for the rest of your trip!
AM: Sultanahmet Square, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Lunch
I think your first day in Istanbul out of your Istanbul 4 day itinerary should be spent seeing the most popular Istanbul tourist attractions which are all found in the Sultanahmet area of the city.
Start your day at Sultanahmet Square by visiting Hagia Sophia which is now a Mosque and free to enter, before it used to be a museum and cost money to enter. Hagia Sophia opens for visitors at 9am and I think that is a good time to start your Istanbul itinerary!
It is a good idea to bring a scarf out with you today to cover your hair if you are female as you will need to cover your hair and wear appropriate clothing inside Hagia Sophia however there is somewhere at the entrance where you can borrow a scarf and light coat to cover you.
Afterwards, take in Sultanahmet Square, get a Simit from one of the stalls for a quick breakfast however I will warn you that prices are much higher in this area of the city so buying a fruit juice or coffee will cost you a lot more!
Within Sultanahmet Square is also Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque which is easy to visit.
The Basilica Cistern is also across the road, this is one of the top things to see in Istanbul and it is only small once you are inside so it doesn’t take long to visit on your Istanbul itinerary.
If Topkapi Palace is on your list of things to do in Istanbul in 4 days, then now is a good time to visit as it is just behind the Hagia Sophia. Topkapi Palace is stunning, it’s full of different rooms to visit with views over the city.
There are signs in English all the way around so you know what you are seeing, you could also get a guide from outside if you want more information. You need about 2 hours to really see the Palace.
There is a cafe inside Topkapi Palace with incredible views of the Asian side of Istanbul so I recommend getting lunch there.
PM: Grand Bazaar, Süleymaniye Mosque, Rooftop Restaurant, Bosphorus Boat Tour
After lunch in Topkapi Palace or nearby (be aware that restaurants in this area do cost more but they are plentiful with good service so on day 1 of your 4 days in Istanbul it’s ok to eat in touristy areas), head to the Grand Bazaar.
The Grand Bazaar is not the most pleasant of places. The men in the shops can be very annoying to both men and women, however it’s blue and yellow painted interior and arches are so iconic that it is one of the must visit places on a first trip to Istanbul!
Unless you are shopping in Istanbul, you do not need to spend much time in the Grand Bazaar, 30-45 minutes maximum and from here you can easily walk to Süleymaniye Mosque.
This mosque is huge and one of the most beautiful mosques in Istanbul! It’s easy to visit and open for tourists and non-Muslims so you have to visit on your Istanbul itinerary 4 days!
Süleymaniye Mosque offers guests a cloak type outfit to cover your hair and body if you are female so you are appropriately dressed so do not worry about this.
The mosque does close for prayer times so if you arrive and it’s closed, take in the gardens and the views and it will open again in 10-15 minutes.
The view from Suleymaniye Mosque looking over at Galata is beautiful and the grounds are huge, lots of locals come here to relax. The courtyard of Suleymaniye Mosque is great for photos and inside the mosque is beautiful too. You could easily spend 40-50 minutes here relaxing and taking in the city.
If you are in need of food or a drink break, there are so many rooftop restaurants near Suleymaniye Mosque, they are touristy restaurants because of the area and the prices here are higher but they offer incredible views and good service so I still recommend going to one as this is day 1 of your 4 days in Istanbul and it’s for touristy things to do in Istanbul!
If you are looking for evening entertainment, especially if you are visiting Istanbul around Summer where the nights are still light, from Suleymaniye Mosque area you can easily walk down to the Galata Bridge and next to Galata bridge you will see lots of Bosphorus Boat Tours on offer.
Going on one of these at sunset is the perfect thing to do to when planning what to see in Istanbul in 4 days.
Note – the biggest thing I want to stress is that the areas I recommend you visit on day 1 of your Istanbul trip itinerary are very touristy and because of that you will have locals trying to sell you things, kids begging around you, however I want you to expect this and know that not all of Istanbul is like this!
The other 3 days in Istanbul I have planned for you will show you a much different side of Istanbul to this.
However, if you want to see the top Istanbul attractions, you have to put up with higher prices and being pulled into restaurants, that’s just how it is!
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Day 2 – 4 Days in Istanbul
AM: Turkish Breakfast, Galata Tower, Galata Neighbourhood & Galata Bridge
If you haven’t heard about how good Turkish Breakfasts are, let me tell you now! They are amazing! You typically get over 10 dishes of things to try and the spread also looks incredible.
Turkish Breakfast is best if there is at least 2 of you but if you are visiting Istanbul solo you can still ask for it for 1 person.
So, on day 2 of your Istanbul 4 day itinerary, I suggest you go for Turkish Breakfast. You’ll see many on offer around the city, however a place I recommend you visit is Cafe Privato Restaurant in Galata. They offer one of the best Turkish Breakfast’s in Istanbul and the cafe is really cute with a view of the Galata Tower!
Plan to spend at least 90 minutes eating breakfast in a slow way. This is how you really enjoy Turkey!
After a long breakfast, you can head up to Galata Tower which is one of the best things to do in Istanbul and perfect to do whilst here on your Istanbul 4 day itinerary!
Galata is also full of local, independent shops, so be sure to browse the area for a bit before walking down to the Galata Bridge at the bottom of the hill.
Walking over the Galata Bridge is one of my favourite things to do in Istanbul. Seeing all of then men fishing off the sides, spotting the mosques in the distance and being surrounded by water so walk over the bridge and from here either grab a taxi to Balat or go onto Google Maps and go to the bus station in Eminonu on the other side of the Galata Bridge.
PM: Lunch in Balat, back to Sultanahmet or Bosphorus Boat Tour
Enjoy the afternoon in the colourful, cool and local neighbourhood of Balat! Balat is most famous for it’s colourful houses however once you get there and walk around this historical neighbourhood you’ll realise it offers so much more which is why its on my list of places to see in Istanbul in 4 days.
I love the colourful cafes in Balat, the antique shops, the abandoned buildings and seeing locals sat outside drinking tea. Balat is a perfect mix of being tourist friendly but also keeping local charm and scenes and you can easily spend 2-3 hours here and even stay for dinner as there are many options available.
Related Post: What To Do in Balat, Istanbul!
Depending on the time, whilst you are over this European side of Istanbul, you may decide to catch up on some things you missed on day 1 of your Istanbul itinerary if you didn’t do the Bosphorus boat cruise you could do it tonight, if you missed Suleymaniye Mosque, you can go after visiting Balat on day 2 of your Istanbul 4 days itinerary.
Note – if Balat does not sound like your kind of thing, after finishing in Galata you could walk up Istiklal Street and then up into Taksim.
Istikal Street is the main shopping street in Istanbul full of high street stores. Taksim is popular for bars and more lively restaurants.
Day 3 in Istanbul
AM: Boat to Asia, Uskudar, Lunch
Istanbul is split between Europe and Asia, so far on this Istanbul itinerary 4 days you have stayed in Europe but you will have seen Asia across the water so day 3 is the time to go!
You will more than likely be staying in Europe because when it comes to where to stay in Istanbul, there are more options in Europe so look on Google Maps at the boat routes across the water and work out how to get to Uskudar by boat.
You can go from Kabatas, Karakoy and Eminonu. There is also a metro that goes underwater which Google Maps will also help you with!
Uskudar is a really cool neighbourhood and there are a few different things to do in Uskudar.
Here is my full post on what to do in Uskudar but for some ideas you can go to the fish market, get breakfast or tea at Maidens Tower, visit Yeni Mosque and have a coffee in a cafe and library called Nevmekan Sahil.
You can also walk along the boardwalk along the Bosphorus taking in the views, the perfect activity for morning of day 3 on your 4 days in Istanbul itinerary and ending your time in Uskudar with lunch.
Related Post: 10 Things To Do in Uskudar & Uskudar Guide for Tourists!
PM: Camlica Mosque
From Uskudar you can catch a bus or the metro and a bus to Camlica Mosque, or you can jump in a taxi (taxies in Istanbul are really reasonable in price by the way and on the metre).
Camlica Mosque is the largest mosque in Turkey and it was only completed in 2019!
Because Camlica Mosque is so new, and because it is a further away, not as many people will visit, especially with just 2 days in Istanbul, but with 4 days in Istanbul, you have so much time which is why I recommend it as what to visit in Istanbul in 4 days!
The best time to go to Camlica Mosque is in the afternoon and if the sunset is not too late you can also catch the sunset. This is because there is a huge viewing platform outside of the mosque with a view of the city and sunset.
Be sure to go inside the mosque and see one of the biggest mosques you’ll ever see!
Again, this mosque provides clothing to cover for tourists if you do not have it.
Although Camlica Mosque is anything but hidden, it is one of my top hidden gems in Istanbul because not everyone knows about it!
Afterwards you can get the bus or a taxi back to Uskudar, go for dinner and cross over the water back to your Istanbul accommodation.
Remember You’ll Need Travel Insurance.. and Covid-19 Insurance!
One of the first companies to offer Covid-19 insurance is SafetyWing and this is who I am insured with!
Choose the exact dates you are away for whether that’s 3 days or 2 weeks, and if you are going on a longterm trip you can get insurance that renews every 4 weeks and can be cancelled whenever!
Day 4 in Istanbul
With your last day in Istanbul, I recommend visiting one of the local and less touristy neighbourhoods in Istanbul like Cihangir, Ortakoy or Arnavutkoy.
Another option and something I haven’t yet mentioned in this post for what to visit in Istanbul in 4 days is the Princes Islands, these islands are some of the most beautiful places in Turkey!
They are an easy boat ride from Istanbul city, just across the water. These islands are a perfect Istanbul day trip if you are feeling a bit tired of city life.
Here you can walk and cycle around the islands, go swimming if the weather is warm, watch the sunset from the top of the hill, look at all of the beautiful houses and eat fresh seafood, you’ll feel like you are on holiday on holiday!
Lastly, if you want to visit another place in Turkey whilst you’re in Istanbul then I recommend a day trip to Bursa!
This is one of the best day trips from Istanbul because it is easy to reach by boat and bus from Istanbul centre and you will see a totally different city to Istanbul! There are also many things to do in Bursa to keep you busy for a full last day!
I hope you enjoyed this post on what to do in Istanbul in 4 days and it has helped plan your Istanbul itinerary for 4 days!
- For more of my Istanbul posts to help you plan youse trip see:
- 10 Istanbul Hidden Gems To Visit For Unique Things To Do in Istanbul!
- Where to Stay in Istanbul! A Neighbourhood Guide To The Best Places!
- How to Travel From Istanbul to Cappadocia! A Detailed Guide!