Insider's Guide to Istanbul

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

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4.5 star rating: Recommended 907 Reviews

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  • Location: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Duration:  8 hours (approx.)
Visit six top Istanbul attractions in one day on a full-day sightseeing tour of the city! The action-packed day includes a comprehensive tour of the historical Sultanahmet neighborhood where many of the city’s finest architectural legacies and landmarks are found. Visit the Blue Mosque and museums of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, as well as Istanbul Hippodrome, the sunken palace of Basilica Cistern and the dazzling Grand Bazaar. A delicious 3-course lunch is also included halfway through the day.

Numbers are limited to 14 on this small-group tour ensuring a personalized 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 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

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

Marvel at the interior of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul!

Start your day with a pickup from your European-side hotel or alternatively, meet your guide at a central meeting point. Before departing by coach, listen to a brief breakdown of your day. The sequence of your itinerary is subject to change, so certain attractions (as detailed below) may be visited in a different order. Lunch at a traditional restaurant is included halfway through the day; see the Itinerary for a sample menu.

Head to the Blue Mosque to marvel at its six minarets and the thousands of Iznik tiles that cascade a sea of blue over the building’s interior. One of the finest examples of classical Ottoman architecture, the mosque was built at the bequest of Sultan Ahmet I who demanded a mosque to rival the grandeur of the Hagia Sophia.

Both a church and a mosque in its past life, Hagia Sophia (or Aya Sofya) is now a UNESCO-listed museum that showcases Ottoman- and Byzantine-era artifacts. Browse the interior’s architecture and historical exhibits with your guide, and then continue to Topkapi Palace. Like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace now exists as one of Istanbul’s premier museums, home to a collection of ornamentation that once belonged to the city’s 15th-century sultans and harems.

Continue through Istanbul Hippodrome, seeing the granite Egyptian obelisk that was gifted to the city, and hear how the site once represented the hub of the city’s sporting and political life. After stopping for photos, visit Basilica Cistern — Istanbul’s ‘sunken palace’ — a site that famously featured in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love. The site is one of the largest of the city's ancient cisterns that lie beneath the ground.

The final attraction included in your tour is the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s most famous souks. Comprising nearly 60 streets and thousands more shops, the bazaar can be overwhelming. Let your guide introduce you to its colorful (if chaotic) highlights, and shop for jewelry, leather, pottery, spices and more.

Your tour finishes with a drop-off at your European-side hotel or in central Istanbul.

Please note: The Grand Bazaar will be closed on Sundays. Hagia Sophia will be closed on Mondays from (October 20, 2015). If your tour falls on any of these days, an alternate attraction (such as Chora Museum or another market) may be visited instead.

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

Very nice, our guide Tibet was very clear and fulfilled the tour with a lot of explanations regarding the history of turkey. A great advantage is that you don't have to wait for the museums when you're in a group. The only thing that we disliked was the tour of the carpet company.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

What a great way to see this city. A well run tour!

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

This tour was amazing! I am so glad that we chose this. We ended up in a group of only 8 people at the beginning, then half way through the day a family of 4 joined us. The smaller group definitely made this more enjoyable as we didn't have to waste time waiting for late people! The tour covered everything you would want to see as a highlight tour. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and made this tour wonderful. Highly recommended for those people who want a snapshot of the city before exploring it on their own.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

Great tour "Charlie" knows his stuff and warns you of the market traders of the tricks they pay on tourists. The bazaar is a hostile place try not to be drawn in to the shops because they make it difficult for you to leave try and stay outside so to make it easier to walk away.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

The tour was excellent, out guide Charlie was very knowledgable and managed to fit all of the cities main historical sites into one day. If your only in Istanbul for one day like I was, I would recommend it.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

It was fabulous. Haken was very knowledgeable .

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

I had an amazing time during this tour. It was a small group of 10 people and the tour guide, Hakan, was very knowledgeable and spoke fluent English. There was a lot of walking involved which was great. I usually take a one day tour if I am travelling to a new place just to know my way around. During the tour we visited a carpet shop which was massive and I feel like I was obliged to purchase one but luckily carpets was not in my list. This I could do without but I appreciate the free drinks though! Overall I I am pleased with the tour and I highly recommend to anyone who wants to have a glimpse of what Istanbul have to offer!

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

great day of site seeing eman was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour even when my wife whom is greek kept claiming things as greek ie hagia sofia baklava. had a great bunch of people on our tour saw all the great sites and had a great lunch and carpet making demo
Highly recommended tour and guide

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

A great tour that took in all the major attractions. Our friendly guide was very knowledgible. Highly recommended.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

This is the only way to see Istanbul's Old City. Without a guide you'll stand in long ticket lines guides skipping ticket lines and be overwhelmed by surges of tourists from larger bus tours or cruise ship tours. Our guide Zeus was fantastic and did a great job avoiding the masses and long lines- switching the order of sites everything is within a few minutes walk to make the day more enjoyable. I would happily pay for this tour again and recommend any friends/family visiting Istanbul to purchase. Only drawback is the hotel pickup and drop off- we were the first to be picked up and it took an hour to get the rest of the folks on the tour. But Zeus kept us entertained and shared some history on the different neighborhoods we visited, making the time spent enjoyable.

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Tour code: 3795IST01

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