Enjoy a pickup by minibus at your central Istanbul hotel and cruise to central Istanbul to meet your guide for your small-group guided walking tour. Begin with a walk to the stunning Hagia Sophia. Learn how this monument began as the world’s largest church, converted to a mosque, and in the early 20th century became a museum, its present form. Marvel at the incredible architecture that supports the Hagia Sophia’s immense dome and learn about its Byzantine and Ottoman influences.
Next, head across Sultanahmet Square to admire the German Fountain, a 19th century tribute from General Emperor Wilhelm. Onward to the location of political and sporting life, the Hippodrome. Learn about the chariot races and riots that once took place here during the Ottoman Empire’s reign.
Walk to the nearby Blue Mosque and admire the six towering minarets that add to Istanbul’s fantastic skyline. Then step inside the mosque and listen to stories of Sultan Ahmet I, who at a mere 19 year’s old delegated the construction of the mosque. Alongside your guide, stare up at the detailed blue Iznik tiles that cover the ceiling.
Afterward, break for a tasty Turkish lunch and enjoy meze style plates. Then, traverse Sultanahmet’s beautiful landscape on foot to Topkapi Palace Museum. Not only is this one of the world’s oldest and biggest palaces, but it’s also Turkey’s most popular museum. Step inside and move through its four courtyards to observe historical artifacts and antiquities. Hear lore of the sultans who resided here from the 15th and 19th centuries and observe the elegant Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III.
Following your 2-hour tour of Topkapi Palace continue on to the once Eastern Orthodox church - Hagia Irene. Ogle its beautiful architecture as you gain insight about Istanbul’s oldest Christian place of devotion. Finally, visit the largest covered market in Turkey and one of the largest in the world, the Grand Bazaar. As you roam with your guide and pass bustling shops and stalls, witness local artists create traditional crafts. Then return to central Istanbul where your tour ends.