Your full-day guided sightseeing tour of Istanbul kicks off when you meet your friendly guide near the Blue Mosque, one of the city’s most iconic sites. You have the advantage of seeing it in the morning, to hear about the interesting history and religious significance before the masses arrive. Admire the details Iznik tiles, dome and signature minarets.
Move on to the nearby Hippodrome, a place known for historic sports such as chariot races. Tour the Hagia Sophia, a 6th century UNESCO-listed site. Listen as your guide explains its long history, beginning as one of the principal churches in the Christian world, before becoming a mosque in 1453 and a transitioning to a world-renowned museum in 1935. The best part? With your guide you will be able to skip the line
Then head to the Basilica Cistern, where once again you will be treated as VIP by skipping the long line and heading below ground to the tour this historic cistern. Back in the 6th-century, this facility helped bring potable water to the city.
In front of Topkapi Palace, learn about this storied former residence of Ottoman sultans. Then refuel with an authentic Turkish lunch at a local restaurant. Savor specialty kebabs and more (see the Itinerary for a sample menu).
Next, it’s on to one of Istanbul’s most visited landmarks, the dazzling Grand Bazaar. Amble through its’ colorful stalls, seeing arrays of spices, carpets, ceramics and other locally-crafted goods. If you’re feeling brave, try your hand at haggling and ask your guide for tips.
You won’t want to miss the Spice Bazaar, full of the aromas of Turkey, before boarding your group’s private cruise down the Bosphorus Strait. Admire the Asian and European sides of this sprawling city as your boat makes its way up the strait and back.
Finally, conclude your tour in style, with a beverage (own expense) at hip rooftop cafe near the medieval Galata Tower taking in panoramic views of the city. When you are done, continue exploring this constantly-evolving city on your own.