Prepare to be awed by Istanbul’s magnificent architecture, rich history and eclectic bazaars as you discover the unmissable highlights of the Old City on this full-day, 2-day, or 3-day private tour. Marvel over the glorious Hagia Sophia, learn how the Blue Mosque earned its famous nickname and see the ancient Basilica Cistern. You’ll also tour Topkapi Palace, where you’ll gain an insight into the lavish lifestyles of the Ottoman sultans and their harem, and browse the legendary Grand Bazaar, where you’ll find everything from carpets to Turkish delight.
*Led by a local guide
* Comprehensive tour of the city
* Explore the local streets on a walking tour of the city.
Inclusions & Exclusions
Inclusions Private tour Professional local guide Exclusions Museum/Attraction Tickets Transportation from/back to hotel and between sites (unless option selected) Lunch Gratitude (suggested)
Departure & Return
Departure Point Tour guide meets you at central European side hotels or port. If hotel is not centrally located or it is on Asian side, the meeting point with tour guide is the front of Basilica Cistern Museum Entry. Departs Daily Return Details If van option selected, guests can be dropped off at their hotel. Otherwise, the tour will end in the Grand Bazaar.
What To Expect
Day – 1
Meet your tour guide at your hotel or port and start the tour with the highlights of Istanbul; Hagia Sophia; Built in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinian, played a very important role in the Christian and Islamic World. After the Ottoman conquest the bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over to convert the church into a mosque. Hippodrome; where the chariot races were held in the Roman Empire times. Basilica Cistern is a subterranean wonder and one of the greatest of Istanbul’s surviving Byzantine sites, in fact a former water storage chamber. Blue Mosque; Built in the early 1600s for Sultan Ahmet I, Blue Mosque is truly a magnificent masterpiece of architecture with amazingly delicate proportions for a building of such massive scale. Grand Bazaar; One of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world with over 4,000 shops. Topkapı Palace; More than just an Imperial Residence of Ottoman Sultans, it was the seat of the Supreme Executive and Judiciary Council for almost 400 years long.
Day – 2
Spice Market is a colorful indoor bazaar and has lots of shops offering a variety of spices, purses, flavored teas, Turkish delight, nuts, as well as ceramics and small souvenirs. Take the public ferry for Bosphorus Cruise to see both Istanbul’s European and Asian sides, Galata Tower, Dolmabahce Palace, the Rumelian Fortress, old Ottoman villas, Bosphorus bridges, mosques. Dolmabahce Palace; Elegance and beauty with the most luxury decoration,chandeliers,rugs,crystals,ceramic fireplaces. Beautiful palace, right on the Bosphorus with gorgeous furnishings, paintings, porcelains. Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Galata Tower; A great place defining modern Turkey. Have very good, cafes, shops, bars, night clubs around.
Day – 3
Suleymaniye Mosque is the largest mosque in Istanbul and is as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside. Its terrace offers lovely views of the Golden Horn and Bosphorus. Chora Church; considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of a Byzantine church. With its glorious mosaics and frescoes about the scenes of the Holy Bible she holds an important place. Fener District; Explore Istanbul’s rich religious history with a stop at the Church of St. George. Since the 1600s, the church has been the location of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and is recognized as the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Religion. Balat District; lines of drying laundry stretch across steep, winding streets. Century-old Ottoman houses lean against each other in a combination of reds,blues,greens. And art galleries and design shops dot the area along the water. Pierre Loti Hill and Cable Car is one of the most popular sights to visit since it offers great views for the visitors. Take the cable car to reach to the top and enjoy the beautiful scenery while sipping your Turkish coffee or tea.
Hotel pick-up is offered for this tour. Note: if you are booking within 24 hours of the tour/activity departure time, we cannot guarantee hotel pick-up. Once your purchase is complete, we will send you complete contact information (phone number, email address, etc.) for our local operator to organize pick-up arrangements.
Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability Please note that Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays Blue Mosque is closed until 2pm on Fridays Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays between November 1 and March 31. Hagia Sophia is open to visit on Mondays between April 1 and October 31 Dolmabahce Palace is closed on Mondays Due to museum regulations, live guide service is not available at Dolmabahce Palace When booking the tour with van, if your hotel is located in Sultanahmet you will be steps from the museums, so the van will not be used as much.
Annual closing dates of all museums and bazaars in Istanbul as follows:
January 1 – New Year
June 4/6 – Ramadan Festival,
August 10/14 – Eid Festival
October 29 – Republic Day.