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Yerebatan Sarayi (Basilica Cistern)

Atmospheric music, rosy flood lighting and the lilting sound of water lapping on marble – entering the Underground Cistern known in Turkish as Yerebatan Sarayi - or Basilica Cistern, is an experience that charms all the senses. Built to store ... 

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5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2015

Great tour with personable and knowledgeable guide with the surprise bonus of seeing the underground cisterns.

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2015

Gulay was a wonderful guide and we truly enjoyed our day with her! About the right amount of time was spent in each location and the lunch was quite nice in a restaurant near the Underground Cisterns. This was our 3rd time to Istanbul and it was much more relaxed having a guide with us. We were able to take advantage of the shorter guided tour lines which gave us additional time at each site. Would recommend to everyone.

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

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2014

It was a great tour! The guide was very informative it gave me a totally different perceptive on Turkish history. The lunch was at a great restaurant, the atmosphere and food were exceptional. Our tour was in English and our guide was perfect in her pronunciation. The Topakai palace, blue mosque, st.Sophia, the basilica cistern, the grand bazaar exceptional.

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2014

We very much enjoyed our walking tour of Istanbul. The weather was quite awful but the places we visited were so interesting that it did not matter. The guide, Omar, ( I think it may be spelled differently) was very knowledgeable and was able to answer the many questions we asked him. It was great to bypass all of the lines to get into the sites. We also went into the Basilica Cistern which I had not expected to do on the tour, so that was a great bonus. I could have done without lunch and perhaps the visit to the carpet manufacturer although neither thing spoiled the tour. I can recommend this tour and Omar.

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
October 2014

We took this tour on our first day. It was very full and interesting, taking us to all the wonderful historical sites. We enjoyed the information given by our lovely female tour guide. We enjoyed lunch and then visited the cistern which is a marvel. Onto a rug distributor which was fascinating but hard sell- we bought a rug! We then visited the Grand Bazaar and were somewhat intimidated by the pushy selling techniques. This tour is well worth it as it oriented us to the location, history and culture.

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
September 2014

The tour was very good and the guide was too. His English was excellent. We were picked up at the hotel promptly and the order chosen for the sites seemed was good as we seemed to miss the long queues. The substitution of the Roman Cistern for the Grand Bazaar (Sunday closure) was a good choice. The only disappointment was the inevitable visit to the "carpet factory/salesroom" at the end of the tour. KN

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
July 2014

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.

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2014

The tour is perfect for those who want to see the major attractions in Istanbul but have only a limited time frame. Even though it poured cats and dogs for the first half of the day, I would highly recommend this tour for city orientation, history, and art appreciation. It also was reassuring to have a native Turkish guide who knew the language(of course!), the customs, and for the easy, no-waiting-in-line access to the sights. Our tour guide also shared her personal opinions and beliefs during the tour about Turkey, its history and culture, and women's roles and rights. It was refreshing and interesting.

Wear good walking shoes and be prepared to spend most of the day on your feet. It does seem long at times, but you really get a feel for the city and its history. We were blown away by the Basilica Cisterns but everything on the tour is quite remarkable.

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2014

This was a full-day tour (walking) of the most important sights in Istanbul. The hotel pick-up was appreciated but somewhat disorganized as to the actual time to be ready. The local tour provider was difficult to reach by phone to confirm. Once we met our guide, Tibet, the rest of the day was outstanding. She was energetic, knowledgeable about the sights and Turkish culture and very personable. Our small group of nine blended well and we had a great time. Lunch was unexpectedly very good and the cistern tour was a real bonus. Highly recommended.

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

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

Anthony W
United Kingdom

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
February 2014

Stunning places on this trip. We enjoyed it immensely. Highlight for us was the visit to the Cistern - which is curious as we didn't even realise we were going there!

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
January 2014

Perfect way to begin our stay in Istanbul. Tibet was a wknderful guide and tailored our tour to our specificatioons. Having a guide meant minimal waiting in line at the various spots. Loved the Cistern and Tibet enthusiastically joined in oir search for the "perfect" treasures. The stop at the rug store was informative and fun. Lunch was also a treat and Tibet gave us great recommendatins for the rest of our stay.

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2013

Grand Bazaar was closed since I did the tour on a Sunday but the rest of the tour was great! Excellent organization, tour guide very nice and accurate. I highly recommended viator to anyone visiting istanbul! Please don't miss Basilica cistern!!!

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

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2013

this gave us everything we needed to see in one day , the tour guide was very well informed and gave us a lot of information , this is a nice way to explore the City of Istanbul , walking the tour and the underground Cistern was amazing .

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

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

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2013

Our guide was fantastic. He can be considered a walking historian. The best thing is we skip the line when we visited the underground cistern ( or else we had to wait at least 1 hour due to the queque). Enough time to venture at all places and most importantly, they were punctual when they pick us up at the hotel.

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

Vincent H
United Kingdom

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2013

Very good tour, which was booked at the last minute. The pace was just right and the content was informative without being overbearing. The guide spoke excellent English and she tweaked the agenda to suit the group. We all agreed to skip the grand bizaar in order to spend some time at the cistern basilica. Lunch was also very good. Much better than the normal expectation for a tour so all in I would and have recommended bith the guide and the tour to collegues travelling to Istanbul.

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2013

I would recommend the full day tour, but we only had a half day available. Good tour guide and interesting tour. Suggest you copy what is on tour (its not on the voucher), as our tour guide would have left out the Roman Cisterns (which was a highlight), if I had not reminded her.

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2013

Once again our tour guide, Omar was very knowledgeable. The Blue Mosque was amazing. The Palace is a must see! I quite enjoyed the cistern--what advanced thinking on the part of the architect. Both the tours I took were outstanding and made my trip to Turkey better than expected!!

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
August 2011

Love love loved this tour!! Omar our tour guide was amazing!!!! He was so informative and gave us such a personalized account of Istanbul. We were picked-up where our ship docked, and were taken to all the great sites Istanbul has to offer. We were given ample time to take pictures and have free time at each stop. We had a delicious lunch, and even got to see the cistern and some amazing carpets. This was such an amazing tour and I would do it again!!!

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
August 2011

i booked this at the last minute. the guide was incredibly friendly and helpful. our group was about 9 people, all wonderful. there were 20 somethings and 60 somethings. the tour was great and an outstanding value. i had some doubts going into it, but after this experience i will keep coming back. i wish i had known about this earlier! had a wonderful time. my only suggestion is that the add one more stop, the cisterns, as it is so close to everything else and can be done in 30mins or less. if you only had one day in istanbul this would be the only way to do it!

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2010

Included the most important things to see in Istanbul. The guide was very knowledgeable and spoke perfect English. You must see the stops on this tour while in Istanbul. It would be good it this tour included the cistern which was in the same area and alos a must see venue.

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

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