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3 days quick stop over in Istanbul around Christmas

I am travelling to Istanbul with my family in December close to Christmas most likely Dec 22-24, arriving late evening on Dec 21.

I am planning to cover the following sites and plan to stay in the old city
1. Blue Mosque
2. Topkapi Palace
3. Haghia Sofiya
4. Boshphorus cruise
5. Galata Tower
6. Golden Horn
7. Hammam experience
8. Grand bazaar and
9. Spice bazaar.

Istanbul has been on my bucket list for a long time to visit. Any suggestions on plan or hotels are most welcome??

Posted by
6147 posts

I recommend either of these two hotels, they are very well-located right off the tram and close to all the sites you want to see in the Old City.

Raymond Blue Hotel
http://www.booking.com/Share-Fl4zWp6
The Empress Theodora Hotel
http://www.booking.com/Share-5JZrgt

If the weather isn't great for the Bosphorus Cruise (I can imagine it may not be), then definitely consider going to the Archeological Museum and Gulhane Park (next door) instead, or the wonderful Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Well worth it. Also, I liked the smaller Arasta Bazaar much better than the Grand Bazaar.

Posted by
2361 posts

We stayed at Ottoman Imperial near Hagia Sophia in 2012 and loved it.

Posted by
13930 posts

Plan your timing!! The Grand Bazaar is closed on Sunday, the Spice Bazaar is open but really really crowded. Other sights have different opening/closing days. Also google the prayer times for Istanbul as mosques are closed to the public then - non-Muslim visitors will be hustled out at least a few minutes before prayers begin.

Most (all?) mosques expect you to take off your shoes, put them in a plastic bag and carry them with you. If you can, add the Süleymaniye Mosque - I liked it better than the Blue Mosque. Also the Rustem Pasha Mosque is right around the corner from the Spice Market and a small gem.

We stayed at the Erboy Hotel - the staff, rooms, breakfast, restaurant, and location - all excellent.