Start your tour in the early afternoon with a pickup from your centrally located Istanbul hotel or meet your professional guide near Istanbul’s Old City (Sultanahmet).
Travel by air-conditioned coach to the Topkapi Palace, overlooking the Golden Horn. This former residence of the Ottoman sultans makes a magical sight with its cylindrical turrets and imperial gate.
Head inside with your guide and hear about the sultans who lived here with their families between 1453 and 1839. Wander around the chambers and courtyards, and visit the eye-popping Treasury. Here, marvel at the arrays of priceless objects on show: they include everything from enormous diamond candlesticks to the famous, emerald-encrusted Topkapi Dagger and sacred Islamic relics such as the Prophet Mohammed’s footprint set in clay. Other must-sees include the great kitchens and collections of imperial robes and manuscripts.
Next, follow your guide to the courtyard of the nearby Hagia Sophia. Here, view the five recently restored mausoleums of the Sultans Mehmed III, Selim II, Murad III, Ibrahim I and Mustafa I and their families. The interiors are adorned with 16th-century tiles painted with vivid purple, red, green and blue florals. Also, approach the tombs themselves to see priceless fragments of each sultan’s robes and parts of the original rugs of the Kaaba in Mecca.
Return to your coach for a drop-off either at your hotel or the starting point near Istanbul’s Old City (Sultanahmet).