Time is short, there are so much to see and experience. No need to worry, the point is how can you spend your time most efficiently in Istanbul in 3 days.
Firstly, you should book a room around Taksim or Sultanahmed, where you will spend most of your time. Secondly, buy a Museum Pass Istanbul; it allows you to enter the Museum and Palaces without waiting in long ticket lines.
Good morning! It will be a tough day, start with a nice breakfast and enjoy Turkish Tea. You will be around Sultanahmed, a famous tourist hub, all day. Start your day at Topkapi Palace, where sultans ruled the whole empire for centuries before move to the Dolmabahce Palace, then head to Hagia Sophia, one of the most well known monuments of Istanbul, and Basilica Cistern to see what mysteries lay beneath your feet. Istanbul Archaeological Museums is also a must if you are interested. End the day by visiting Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar to see where Ottomans pray and shop. All mentioned attractions are within walking distance.
Start your day at Dolmabahce Palace in Kabatas. Because you have to take guided tours to see inside, arriving there early may save you from visiting the palace with a crowded group. After the tour ends, take the tram to Eminonu to see New Valide Mosque, Spice Bazaar, and around. Both Mosque and Bazaar are settled in the heart of Eminonu, standing next to each other. Cross Galata bridge to wander around Karaköy and Galata, and if you want to see Istanbul from above, climb to monumental Galata Tower. After leaving tower climb the hilly streets of Galata to reach Tunel, where commercial Istiklal Street begins. Go with the flow of Istanbul’s vibrant daily life, take a seat one of the restaurants or cafes on the street and rest. You may go to meyhane(Turkish pub) in Çiçek Pasaji or Nevizade for dinner, both are located on Istiklal Street.
Before saying good-bye to Istanbul, we still have things to do! Firstly, catch a ferry to tour the Bosphorus for half day. They will depart from Eminonu or Kabatas and drop you where they picked. Balat Edirnekapi route is highly advisable for afternoon, to see uncrowded side of Istanbul. As the day ends, before settling into your hotel, go to a historical hamam to relax and experience the Turkish bathing ritual. Keep in mind that a non touristic Hamam have separate sections or time zones for men and women, so you should check them for a real experience.