Meet your guide and air-conditioned minivan at Istanbul cruise port, and begin your full-day tour. On route, learn about Istanbul’s history as the capital of three successive empires — the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman — and how its historical importance rested on its strategic location between Europe and Asia.
Head for the UNESCO-listed Hagia Sophia museum, and go inside to explore this richly gilded former basilica and then mosque, constructed in its present form by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century.
Stop at the Hippodrome, the site of chariot races and other sporting and social events in Roman and Ottoman times, and visit the Topkapi Palace, home to the Ottoman sultans for around 400 years. Stroll around the chambers and courtyards, and view the imperial treasures, including the sultans’ robes, jewels, and more.
Head to the Blue Mosque, a masterpiece commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I in 1603. Admire the domes and six minarets, and explore the interior, seeing the blue Iznik tiles that lend it its name.
Finally, visit the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s biggest covered marketplaces. Roam the maze-like corridors, filled with 4,000 shops selling gold, carpets, leatherware, and more, and browse for souvenirs before a port drop-off ends your tour.
Please note: Guests are required to cover their shoulders and knees for visits to mosques. The Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays and the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, so tours on these days will include replacement visits to other attractions.