Read what other Viator.com travelers think about the Private Tour: Istanbul's Jewish Heritage. What they loved, what they liked and what they think could be improved, it's all here to help you make the most of your next trip.
Our guide was wonderful. He wqs very warm and inviting. It would have been better, however, if a representative from each of the synagogues we visited had been able to tell us something about the congregation and not merely ask for a donation. Speaking with a congregant would have greatly added to our understanding of the Istanbul Jewish community - their customs, issues, etc. This, however, was not the fault of our guide.
FIrst I want to give the highest praise for our delightful,knowledgeable helpful, sweet, chic,friendly tour guide, Mine pronounced Meenay (hope her name is correct) This is a must see for anyone interested in Jewish Heritage. Our tour was half a day and fine for us.we had read of one dissatisfied traveller's opinion and were concerned. We were so interested in the three Synagogues we saw. Each with a different story. at Neve Shalom the Rabbi himself met with us. The tour for two was so well organized with our guide and driver. I don't know how much you want to read but The tour as set is wonderful and then we were given options of certain sites to see. A tour is a must as it is difficult to get from one area to another unless someone really directs you and takes you. It was surprising to learn that the Neve Shalom Synagogue ( I am pretty sure that is the one) does not have dues but is supported by contributions. Mine told us a great deal of information about the Jewish Community (24,000 Jews) and 16 active Synagogues as well as about Istanbul itself especially since we had just arrived the day before. Be prepared to do some walking on cobblestone streets...some of the fun about this through streets with much to see en route.
THe security is very tight as we appreciated and as it is necessary so plan ahead to send your passport information at least a week or more ahead of your tour.
Marcia and Richard Schaefer Delmar (near Albany) New York
was in icu in American Hospital istanbul and had to miss everything
Jewish history in Istanbul seems limited....the synagogues were important for us to see and the guide made them as interesting as possible.
The guide was a good guy, but has no idea about history of Jews in Istanbul. He didn't make any comments in place we have visited and just let us explore the place ourselves. Couple of synagogues were closed at the time of tour, as a result we were not able to visit it. Generally, I would describe the tour and organization of it as unacceptable. We could easily arrange the same excursion ourselves, and the result would be completely the same. Taking in account the cost of the tour, I had a full right of expecting way more interesting and professional trip.
This tour was very disappointing. The tour guide did not appear very knowledgeable about the Jewish community in Istanbul even though she had said she took a special course. She also mentioned she had only called the synagogues the day before to arrange our tour. It was a morning tour and it was supposed to include three synagogues. One of those mentioned is only open in the aft. which the local tour company should know and therefore not advertise it as part of a morning tour. We went back on our own in the afternoon to see it. One we couldn't see but she was unsure of the reason. That left one, the Jewish museum and the Jewish hospital where there isn't much to see or anyone to talk to. A member of the one synagogue told us about a special exhibition in a restored synagogue which was very pleasant. The local tour company was also bad about followup. Viator had to get them to answer emails I sent before I left and they said they would send a fax to my hotel with a pickup time which they didn't do. The hotel called for me. (Later they sent the fax). This was a very expensive tour that was not worth the price paid. I would definitely not recommend it to anyone.
We felt that we were taken. The guide knew very little of what she was doing.