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Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

Hagia Sophia (or Aya Sofya) is one of the world’s most beautiful buildings, built to be the world’s largest place of worship by Emperor Justinian in 532 AD.  The church became a Mosque under the Ottomans, and its mosaics and decoration were ... 

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Anneke

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
January 2016

I can highly recommend the private sightseeing tour in Istanbul. Luck also did play a crucial part in our day as there was snow on the day of our tour, which transformed Istanbul into a winter wonderland for the day.
Our tour guide Ilker Ulus was very knowledgable and friendly and took us to see all the relevant tourist attractions such as the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topikapi Palace. What was great about this tour however was the fact that we were also shown lesser known attractions such as the Cisterns- where a scene from the James Bond movie From Russia With Love was filmed and a private pottery demonstration in a family owned shop that has been around for generations.
We we're also treated to a lovely three course Turkish meal- this was one of the highlights of the day. Ilker also took us to the Spice Market in town and introduced us to some of his local friends that have one of the finest establishments in the market. We bought some of the best Turkish Delight we had ever had as well as other Turkish delicacies ask Ilker to recommend some treats!.

What made this tour great for our family was the flexibility of the tour and Ilker. We could decide what we wanted to do after seeing all the main attractions and Ilker had a great knowledge of all the things that we were interested in. Ilker ended up taking us to a leather factory store that supplies many of the famous Italian brands.
This tour is an absolute must and the guide, Ilker is also highly recommended!

Doing what: Private Tour: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour including Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace

Anneke

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
January 2016

I can highly recommend the private sightseeing tour in Istanbul. Luck also did play a crucial part in our day as there was snow on the day of our tour, which transformed Istanbul into a winter wonderland for the day.
Our tour guide Ilker Ulus was very knowledgable and friendly and took us to see all the relevant tourist attractions such as the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topikapi Palace. What was great about this tour however was the fact that we were also shown lesser known attractions such as the Cisterns- where a scene from the James Bond movie From Russia With Love was filmed and a private pottery demonstration in a family owned shop that has been around for generations.
We we're also treated to a lovely three course Turkish meal- this was one of the highlights of the day. Ilker also took us to the Spice Market in town and introduced us to some of his local friends that have one of the finest establishments in the market. We bought some of the best Turkish Delight we had ever had as well as other Turkish delicacies ask Ilker to recommend some treats!.

What made this tour great for our family was the flexibility of the tour and Ilker. We could decide what we wanted to do after seeing all the main attractions and Ilker had a great knowledge of all the things that we were interested in. Ilker ended up taking us to a leather factory store that supplies many of the famous Italian brands.
This tour is an absolute must and the guide, Ilker is also highly recommended!

Doing what: Private Tour: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour including Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace

oscar.lanza

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2015

I saw the Hitman and Taken 2 a movie and said to myself that one day I would go to those temples. I realized my dream and Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and the Basilica Cistern did not disappoint. I am a student of Roman history and geography and I can honestly say that books do not do justice to the real thing.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

sumerixmj

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2015

If you only have a day or two in Istanbul this is the tour for you. We saw all the main sites with an excellent guide who really knew her history and art. We toured from 8:30 am until 4:30 so it was a long day. We walked every where so wear comfortable shoes. The included lunch was great at a local restaurant. Hagia Sophia was amazing.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Tirsa R

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2015

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Istanbul and this tour. The Blue mosque and the Hagia Sophia were amazing!!! The Palace was great too. I didn't realize how much history Turkey has and enjoyed listening to our tour guide Omar. He was amazing and a great storyteller.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

James D

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
October 2015

We had an amazing day visiting the old part of the city on the European side of Istanbul. Our guide for the day Gulay Gunay was excellent. The tour was provided by a local tour company. Gulay looked after us very well telling us the history of this part of the lovely city of Istanbul. We were in a small group of 7 people which was just right, we all got on very well with each other, hailing from New Zealand, the USA and Canada. Our driver was excellent picking us up and taking us back to our hotels. We visited the Topkapi palace, the Cistern, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and a visit to a government run shop where carpets amongst other goods were sold. We finally visited the Grand Bazaar which was an excellent experience, as long as you are firm! Lunch was also included in a nice restaurant. All in all, an excellent way to see the city in 1 day, very worthwhile. Thanks to Gulay for her insights and taking care of us.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Roger M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
October 2015

I'll cover the disappointment first and briefly. We didn't get to see the bazaar. It was closed for Holy Week!! BUT, the remainder of the tour was great. The Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace and their history was quite interesting to learn. We also saw the Hippodome and the Cistern which added to the history lesson. Highly recommend this tour.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

teddie p

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
October 2015

This is a great tour, you see all the major sites, and sort of get a lay of the land also!! The Hagia Sophia and the basillica cistern were the highlights for me!! Wear socks and shoes as you have to take your shoes off to see the mosque and ladies take a scarf and wear a t-shirt with sleeves or take a light sweater,

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Norman C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
September 2015

Viator Istanbul One Day Tour August 26th 2015

My wife and booked this tour online and printed out the vouchers for presentation to our Tour Guide.

One of the great aspects of the Viator tour was door to door pickup from the hotel. We stayed at the Marriott Sisli

Our minivan arrived on time and proceeded to the next stop where our guide Hakam boarded. Hakam is a very pleasant young man with a wealth of knowledge of the city of Istanbul, its history and points of interest.

After picking up the other passengers from their hotels we headed to the first to Topkapi Palace where our tickets were purchased and distributed to us.

Hakam always gave us clear instructions and took great care in making sure we were comfortable and informed.

One couple on the tour a mother and daughter from Colombia, were very difficult and at times abusive towards our guide. The mother was disabled and had a wheelchair. The driver and Hakam pushed this woman over rough terrain in the blistering heat. In some areas there were steep stairs. In spite of super human efforts on the part of Hakam, the daughter tried to hog the limelight, threatening Hakam with complaints to the tour operator.

The bottom line was that the daughter really wanted the tour and the mother could not have cared less.

In spite of this Hakam skillfully made it all work and the tour of Topkapi was great.

Next stop was Hagia Sophia which was absolutely fantastic! The feeling of history surrounding us was palpable. Hakam brought the chronology of this site to life with his vivid descriptions.

Hakam timed our sequence of our visit to the Blue mosque perfectly and took us through the visitors entrance with minimal waiting. The mosque and its grounds are simply spectacular only to be topped by the beautiful interior and magnificent tile work.

A very nice lunch was included at a restaurant near Hagia Sophia.

The next stop was the Basilica Cistern where part of the James Bond film From Russia with Love was made. A

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Gary Y

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
September 2015

Great overview of key sites in Istanbul with limited time in the city. The guide, Hakan, was terrific. He had outstanding knowledge of history, had traveled extensively himself giving him experience and perspective.
The tour is a full 8 hours and requires a fair amount of moderate walking. Admission is included for Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. For anyone with limited time in Istanbul and wanting to get a narrative on the key sites, this is a definite.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Micko

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
September 2015

It was a great attraction to see these historical places and we were impressed with what we saw. Hagia Sophia was monumental and the Blue Mosque was epic. But what really blew me away was the Topkapi palace. The Ottomans had quite a collection of Islamic relies which were handed over to the current generation. It was astounding to see these historical items first had. The guide was a great help, explaining names as well as the historical significance of the places. Highly recommended!!!

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Winfried C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
September 2015

We lucked out with a private tour - only the two of us. Guide was friendly, knowledgeable and informative. All three sites are worth visiting, we had no wait because our guide had tickets, and we went directly in to both the Hagia Sophia and Basiillica Cistern even though there were extremely long lines. Worth it to book a tour! Our guide helped us to wind out way through the Grand Bazaar and had some good tips for us. This tour enhanced our visit to Istanbul.

Doing what: Imperial Istanbul Half-Day Tour: Hagia Sophia, Basillica Cistern and Grand Bazaar

Con V

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
July 2015

We had two nights in Istanbul before heading off on a tour of Turkey, so wanted a one day tour of the highlights in Istanbul.
Couldn't ask for a better tour to take. It was awesome !!!
Saw Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, and even fitted in the Hippodrome.
Highly recommended.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Vishaal S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2015

This was an amazing experience! The monuments, especially the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, are among the most beautiful works of architecture in the world that we've seen so far. And the tour guide was extremely informative and kept us as engaged as he could. The tour was longer than advertised we were dropped off around 6 pm. But it was worth it. There was even a surprise stop at a carpet dealer's showroom, and we were given a fascinating introduction to the tradition and evolution of carpet-making in Turkey. We got 1 hour at the Grand Bazaar, and bought some beautiful handicrafts there. It is a huge place, and full of local fashion and handicraft shops.

One thing I should mention is that we tried to bargain everywhere we went, and managed to bring the price down over 50 percent in some shops. I bought a camera in the city, and even some of those shops lowered the price when I asked if there are any discounts.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Jodie A

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2015

Absolutely loved this one, such a great tour, taking in all the best spots of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia was just magnificent. Katarina was such a wonderful guide, informing us of so many different aspects and whatever we asked - she had an answer for. If you can ask for a particular guide - Katarina is my recommendation - you won't be disappointed.

Doing what: Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar

Roelien J

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2015

Although the weather did not play game - it was pouring with rain, the sights was awesome. Our guide was well informed and kept an eye on us all. The highlight for me was for sure Hagia Sophia, and the carpets of tulips seen all over. Well worth it thnx

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

James H

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2015

Wow. This was a great tour. We learned the full history of Hagia Sophia. Our guide, Gülay knew every date and every detail. The Basilica Cistern was much different than I expected and enhanced by the knowledge of our guide. We had the opportunity to go to a private pottery showroom and have a personal demonstration. My favorite, was the Grand Bazaar. It is overwhelming, but our guide had a good knowledge of which vendors were reputable and helped us navigate. She should do shopping tours!

Doing what: Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar

Edward K

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2014

Gulay was really nice tour guide. You see sooo much on this tour. I wish all Viator tours packed so much in like this one. All tickets and skip the lines are included. You have plenty of time to take photos.
BLue Mosue, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace museum, Cistern, only one hour at the Grand Bazaar.
Lunch is included drink separate as usual.
Tip: when you are at the gardens of the Topkapi Palace and taken to the scenic coast view, spend time there taking pictures, you wont have enough free time to see all the side bits and get good coastal pics.
Also, keep in mind this is mostly a walking tour. If you have difficulties moving around and walking up inclines, you might want to reconsider and take a private or self tour.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Joyce United States of ... 

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
January 2014

Awesome tour. Thorough and carefree. You can walk to all these places. About 30 minute walk to grand bazaar from Topkapi Palace. The Topkapi is right near the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. A full day if you want it to explore it over and over and just people watch.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Edith T

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
January 2014

Enjoyed the 4 sight seeings on the 1st of November very much. Forgot to ask about the Harem place to visit at Topkapi Palace. Timewise it was excellent. The restaurant at Omar's place was devine, so the fooud and the service was fabulous. Also the pick-up service at 8.45 a.m. was great as well as the driving through some narrow streets. Enjoyed the one hour here and there to visit on my own, like the Grand Bazar and the Hagia Sophia etc.
Best wishes Edith

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Kathy K

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2013

Our guide Onur ("honor" in English) was terrific. He was very knowledgeable and passionate about the places we visited. Our tour went flawlessly. We were picked up on time from our hotel. We had the same bus and toured with the same group of ~10 people the entire day which wasn't the case with a couple other tours I took. Onur explained the different sites to us and then gave us free time to explore as well. The Roman cistern with the Medusa heads was the highlight of the trip for me. It was very serene and mysteriously beautiful. To top it off we had a very nice lunch in a restaurant that was near the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) church. My husband and I were very pleased with this trip.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Nora

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
August 2013

Note that this trip is 99% a walking trip, so wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes! The car simply picks you and the rest of the group up from the hotel and drops you off at the first sight--you don't see it until much later in the day. Overall it was a great trip, the price you pay here includes all your entrance fees into Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern. I did feel a bit rushed at the Basilica Cistern, but make your concerns clear to your tour guide and they will usually try to accommodate you as much as possible. Lunch is also included, it consisted of kabobs, rice, salad, and dessert. Drinks were NOT INCLUDED in the price and we had to pay that out of pocket. Later in the day our tour guide dropped us off at a carpet shop where they served us tea and gave us a pitch to try and sell us the ridiculously expensive handmade rugs. It was a complete waste of time and we couldn't find our guide for a while, but the employees at the shop are hospitable and not too pushy. Afterwards we went to the Grand bazaar which was nice, but don't just accept the price they give you, HAGGLE them down. My suggestion for tourist shopping: Go to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, it is much smaller but has many of the same items at the Grand Bazaar and for much cheaper!

We were so happy with out Old City tour that we purchased tickets for the next day's Bosphorus Sea Tour. It was overpriced for sure, but worth the convenience of being picked up and having people that talk English. The entire ship was our groups (not public)and the tour guide pointed out the landmarks we were passing by over the microphone, but we could barely hear him and sounded somewhat boring and monotonous.

We loved Turkey and wish we could go back again! Definitely recommend this tour if you have a day or 2 in Istanbul and want to cover all the major attractions.

Doing what: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

Nancy B

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
August 2013

Private guide picked us up on time, took us to the Hagia Sophia, Cistern, and Bazaar, gave us private time, and transferred us back to the hotel. Could not have been better.

Doing what: Imperial Istanbul Half-Day Tour: Hagia Sophia, Basillica Cistern and Grand Bazaar

Arthur R

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
July 2013

Our tour guide was Tibet. We would rate her as SUPERIOR. Her English skills were perfect. She answered every question we had. She guided us through the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and Grand Bazaar. The Tour requires a lot of walking. The Tour includes entrance fees for the places requiring them; this allows you to avoid some of the lines. Tibet avoiding the crowds as much as possible by arranging the order we went to places based on when she expected the crowds to be the smallest. We had a wonderful, relaxing lunch which is also included in the tour. We enjoyed the personalized nature of the tour – four of us and Tibet. This is a MUST tour for a one-day stay in Istanbul!

Doing what: Private Tour: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour including Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace

Julian E

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2013

This was probably the best tour of the ones I did on my trip to Istanbul and Athens. Our tour guide was beyond friendly and excited about showing us all of the cool sites that we were going to see in our full day. The small group walking tour was great because it was limited to a certain number of people so it was easier to follow and listen to our guide with no problems at all. We got to see and tour the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and the Topkapi Palace. The tour also included lunch at a great restaurant in the middle of the day. Our guide was very friendly and very gracious and warm with all of our questions and observations on the trip, even helping to take photos for people who wanted to remember the amazing sites that we were visiting. I have done a number of Viator tours and this one was probably the best one because the guide was so great. She really had a great deal of knowledge to past and when I even brought up a story that another guide had mentioned, she didn't shoot my story down but rather seemed genuinely interested in learning this new information and excited to research it as she might have learned something new herself. I would say that if you go to Istanbul you absolutely must do this tour because it covers four of the most visited sites in Istanbul in great detail and its so helpful to have someone showing you around and explaining what it is you are looking at, especially in the Topkapi Palace which has so many parts and rooms and things to look at. I would highly recommend this tour and hopefully you end up with the great tour guide that we had.

Doing what: Istanbul Small-Group Walking Tour: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar

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