Insider's Guide to Istanbul

Major attractions, tips and our top things to see and do.

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Tour code: 3795IST01
Immerse yourself in Istanbul’s six best sights on this guided full-day tour. Fit all of the attractions at the top of your bucket list into one packed day, with the help of an expert local guide. Stroll Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet neighborhood, brimming with iconic buildings and storied streets. Tour the Blue Mosque, one of the most important sites in the Muslim world. Delve into history of the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and Istanbul Hippodrome as well as the sunken palace of Basilica Cistern. And you won’t want to miss the and the bustling Grand Bazaar or savory 3-course lunch. This tour is limited to 14 people to ensure a quality tour experience.

Highlights

  • Full-day Istanbul sightseeing tour around the Sultanahmet neighborhood
  • Learn about Istanbul’s history as Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire
  • Visit six top Istanbul attractions with a knowledgeable local guide
  • Explore the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul Hippodrome, Basilica Cistern or Nakkas Cistern and the Grand Bazaar
  • Refuel with a 3-course lunch at a traditional Istanbul restaurant in Sultanahmet
  • Small-group tour with a maximum of 14 people ensures personalized attention from a guide

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

Small-Group Istanbul in One Day Tour Including Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia

Marvel at the interior of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul!

Your action-packed full-day Istanbul sightseeing tour begins with a pickup from your European-side hotel or by meeting your guide at a central location. Start with a brief orientation to the day ahead and then set off in your comfortable coach to your first destination. Keep in mind the order of places may change from what is described below. 
Venture to the Blue Mosque, one of the most stunning sights in Istanbul. Admire its six signature minarets and many ornate Iznik tiles that come together to form its dazzling blue walls. Listen as your expert guide tells you about the fascinating history of this Ottoman-era mosque. Then walk to the Hagia Sophia, an UNESCO-listed museum that was once a church and a mosque.
Next, stroll over to Topkapi Palace, a crown jewel of Istanbul. Explore its intricate corridors and intimate rooms where sultans once entertained elite guests—and were entertained by their harems. Your guide will point out interesting bits of backstory to the rooms, bringing to life this ornamental palace and museum. Midway through the day, break for a traditional Turkish lunch (see Itinerary section for sample menu). 
Move on to the Hippodrome, where you can admire a granite Egyptian obelisk that was a gift to Istanbul. At one point, this location marked the epicenter of the city’s sports life and also served as a political center. Then it’s on to Istanbul’s sunken palace, the Basilica Cistern, one of the biggest ancient cisterns in Istanbul. Follow your guide as he tells fills you in on the history of these historic places. 
Your final stop is also one of the most iconic: the Grand Bazaar. Stroll through its colorful alleys, more than 60 in all, in awe of the crafts, smells, sounds and sights. As one of the most famous souks in the world, you won’t want to miss this. Duck into leather, jewelry and ceramic stores as well as spice stalls and other unique outlets. Say hello to the friendly local shop owners and craftspeople. After, bid farewell to your guide and the rest of your group when you tour concludes with a convenient drop-off at your European-side hotel or in central Istanbul.
Please note:  Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays and the Grand Bazaar is closed Sundays. If your tour is on one of these days, an alternate, such as Chora Museum or another market, may be visited instead. Topkapi Palace, closed on Tuesdays, will be replaced with Istanbul Archaeology Museum).

Itinerary

Sample Menu:
First course:
  • Pastry stuffed with cheese or sausage, served alongside a seasonal salad
Main course (choice of one):
  • Turkish veal kebab
  • Grilled chicken
Dessert:
  • Specialty of the day
  • Seasonal fruit

Customer Reviews

James M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

Great tour. I was a solo traveler looking to get a feel for Istanbul, its culture, architecture, history, people and atmosphere. This tour ticked all those boxes and I would highly recommend to like minded travelers who have a short stay in Istanbul and want to get a full experience of the city.

Marsha S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

Wonderful, interesting tour.

Hani B

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

Tipit Sp? was a great guide and the tour was very well organized. Transportation was great, and prompt. Getting to see the major sites in one day is a great thing, and we loved walking around! Recommended it to all!

Shelly L. United States of ... 

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

Outstanding! We were the only 2 people on this tour. We were picked up on time at our hotel and our tour guide Gulay Gunay was amazing. Her English was very clear, her knowledge of the sights fascinating and she was very accommodating. Perfect way to see this city. Istanbul is safe and a very clean city. Shop keepers take pride in their city and are constantly sweeping the sidewalks in front of their shops. A wonderful place to visit, steeped in history.

lupe

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

It was a perfect tour. Included the most highlighted icons of Istanbul, visited in a tied schedule but enough for knowing the most important things about the city. Perfect for one day tour. The guide Tibet, was great, talked about the history of each icon but also comment about currently facts of Istanbul. Very clear, perfect english and so friendly. Highly recommended.

Walid Amyouni E

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

outstanding

Mariam A

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

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S M K

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

This is an essential tour of seeing Istanbul's grandest buildings in a day. We were picked up from the hotel by our guide Tibet who was very nice and friendly. She presented a clear programme of the day and how we were proceed.
We were in the Topkapi grounds before 09 Am. This was an excellent time to be there as there were not many people and we had the place mainly to ourselves and a few other people. Tibet was really knowledgeable about Topkapi and provided a mix of historical guidance and then some free time for us to explore on our own. This was a short 2 hour trip of Topkapi but to be fair you could spend a day here...some many treasures to explore. I especially enjoyed the Holy Relics room and the Treasury. Topkapi was followed by the grand Ayasofia which provided a stunning glimpse of how Istanbul has been at the cross roads of civilizations. Again Tibet provided us an excellent historical overview and the timeline. We then saw the Basillica Cistern which in my mind was less grand but they did film From Russia with Love here so worth a visit. After the Basilica Cistern we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant - this I must say was a let down especially for the kids as they wanted pasta rather then the chicken grill - they brought more of less boiled pasta and chips. After lunch we saw the grand Sultanahmet Blue Mosque which is an architectural master piece...we then proceeded in the car to the Grand Bazaar which was fascinating however, i did find some of the shops extraordinarily expensive - especially the leather ones typical carpet seller technique , starting with really high prices and then coming down significantly. On the whole the day was excellent. Tibet was one the best guides I have been with, she knew her stuff and was also flexible around the needs of family with kids - she connected well with the children. Neon travels really need to work on the lunch aspect as it was not good value for money. Would recommend this tour none the less.

Tobias W

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

Very good guide, good logistics, great places. After the tour, make sure you have some time on your own just strolling around on your own to let it all sink in and reflect on the many great things!

Ali H

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

Outstanding tour by all means! Our tour guide Tibet was awesome and gave us a great experience. Would recommend it without hesitation

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