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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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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

D D

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2015

Although there was quite a downpour on the day of the tour, our small group was able to visit all the sites listed. My favorite was the Basilica Cistern! The tour guide provided quality information and service, as did the driver. We were able to skip the lines at most locations, and our lunch was delicious too! Although none in our group was interested in purchasing an expensive rug near the end of the tour, the visit to the rug shop was interesting as was the walk through the Grand Bazaar. I highly recommend this tour to anyone stopping in or traveling through Istanbul!

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

Roger L

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
September 2015

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.

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

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

Scott R

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

Bonnie C

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

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

Liliana S

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

lesley.frankie

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

Beverley S

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

Keith N

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

Christopher F

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

Lise G

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

RonG

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

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

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

Leslie H

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

Chara T

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

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

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