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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.
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.
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.
Couldn't have been better. Our guide, Jimmy, was knowledgeable, charming, and provided insights which were invaluable in understanding Topkapi.
We booked are trip in advance and confirmed it with the Turkish operator 24hr prior to arrival to agree a convenient pick-up point. By good fortune we actually passed the pick-up point on our way from the airport which reduced the pressure on having to find it early next morning. The tour starting time was before our breakfast so we were a trifle hungry during the morning session. The tour was led by an historian who was anxious to make us understand the significance of Greek, Roman and earlier civilisations on the current standing structures which helped make sense of some of the things we were seeing. We started at the Topkapi Palace with a logical walk through the various courtyards and buildings. detail. We moved on from Topkapi to Haghia Sophia currently a museum but previously a mosque, church and an even older church founded in the 4th century a history spanning nearly 1500 years. Our group was mixed interest with some really into architecture and others into civilisations and religion this sparked some serious questions and discussion. Lunch was local Turkish cuisine and gave us a chance to sample kebab and halva. The afternoon session took in the Basilica cistern, Blue Mosque and grand Bazaar. Part of our intention had been to use our tour as a 'get our bearings' excursion and to this end we did we also learnt a great deal about Turkish history, architecture and the fusion of one civilisation into another right up to the current day. Our guide enriched the tour with his knowledge and was able to show us how one of my wife's forebears James William Redhouse had enlightened scholars down the years with his Turkish - English dictionary which took the Ottoman script and made it accessible to all. The tour was excellent value and is highly recommended.
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
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.
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!!!
This was a great tour and allowed us to see the highlights of Instanbul before boarding our cruise ship the next day. Our tour guide was fantastic and easy to understand. She provided lots of interesting information. We were given free time to explore the Topkapi Palace. I wish there had been more time, so that we might have included the Harem tour, which cost extra, but we had to leave for the Blue Mosque. Between the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar tours, the guide took us to a carpet shop, where they did the hard sell, but the free beverage was nice. I would have preferred that this time be allowed for us to tour the Harem at the Topkapi Palace.
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.
This is a very comprehensive tour that packs a lot of highlights into a very full day. The advantages are having the knowledge and services of a local guide and pre-purchased tickets that by-pass some of the very long queues. It is the ideal tour for somebody with a limited time in Istanbul who wants to cover some of the main highlights - Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the magnificent Basilica Cisterns. A tasteful lunch at a local cafe provides added ambience.
Yogesh J USA
An outstanding tour. It gives you a fantastic view of Istanbul in a single day. Excellent guide, Gulya, who spoke very good English and was very knowledgeable. Enjoyed every minute of the tour, particularly Topkapi palace and the view of the Bosphorus. There is a lot of walking, so we were tired by the time we got to the Grand Bazaar. But there is so much to see, one does not mind the walking.
Tíbet, our guide, was simply amazing. She had so much knowledge that my head was spinning post-tour! It was just my husband and I on this tour, and we we're so glad. Topkapi Palace would not have been so interesting had it not been for the information and history she provided. It, by far, was our favorite of the 4 sights visited. We especially appreciated not having to wait out the queues, as she already had our tickets. We requested to skip the carpet demonstration (did that in Ephesus and had no desire to do it again). We had also already visited the Grand Bazaar on our own the day before, so we skipped it. Don't think twice, book this tour if you want a great experience.
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.
Joyce United States of ...
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.
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
The tour guide was very knowledgable about the blue mosque's history and architecture. It is unbelievable how those people built this magnificent building during their time. In the Topkapi, the tour was packed because there was too many interesting small museums, but it was fantastic to see ancient armoury and clocks and watches, so engaging that we feel not enough time in this half day tour.
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.
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!
Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable. It was a great tour and we got to see alot in one day. I wish the lunch was at the Topkapi palace though with great views. Lunch was just ok..pretty touristy spot..
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.
This tour was everything we expected it to be, and more. Thanks to our helpful and knowledgeable guide Omer, we saw and learned about all the major historical sights. To be sure, it is a very full day so be prepared for a cultural inundation. Omer was able to get us at the front of some very long lines which made the process quite effortless. Having a private guide made us feel special, in particular among the hordes of people who would not have the benefit of immediate facts and knowledge provided by Omer. One thing to note is that it is not permitted for the guide to accompany you inside the various wings of Topkapi and provide any narration. This they must do before you enter so you get a preview of what to look for.
Blanca United Kingdom
I really enjoyed this tour, which was the perfect introduction to Istanbul, including all the top attractions which can´t be missed! I was really impressed by the Blue Mosque, it was probably my favourite. And Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia were also definitely worth seeing. The guide was really knowledgable and made the tour and explanations very interesting. We were in a very small group, which was great as it almost felt private! Really recommend this tour!
Blanca United Kingdom
This tour was the perfect introduction to Istanbul, including all the top attractions which can´t be missed! I was really impressed by the Blue Mosque, it was probably my favourite. And Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia were also definitely worth seeing. The guide was really knowledgable and made the tour and explanations very interesting. Really recommend to do it on first day to Istanbul!
Be prepared for a lot of walking but also for a lot of very interesting sites and sounds. Topkapi is amazing and has so much to offer. The Blue Mosque is beautiful and definitely a must to see, as is the Hagia Sophia. Unfortunately by the time we got to the Grand Bazaar, we were all a little tired and very hot but it gives you a little taste of the bazaar and certainly makes a future visit to the bazaar a little easier. The lunch that we had on this tour was exceptionally good and made for a nice break in the middle of the day.
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