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Witness the must-see wonders of Ottoman Istanbul on this full-day private tour. With your own expert guide, explore top Istanbul attractions including the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar, and visit the glorious Hagia Sophia, the 6th-century basilica turned into an Ottoman mosque in 1453. Learn about Istanbul’s fascinating history from your guide, and stop midway for a delicious included lunch at a local restaurant. Upgrade to make your visit to the Hagia Sophia in the early morning or evening, so you can enjoy its treasures without the crowds.

Highlights

  • Full-day private tour of the highlights of Ottoman Istanbul
  • Visit the top Istanbul attractions of the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia
  • Absorb the sights, sounds and aromas of the chaotic Grand Bazaar
  • Ogle Istanbul’s skyline from the Bosphorus waterfront
  • Break for a delicious, included lunch at a traditional restaurant
  • Upgrade to visit the Hagia Sophia before or after opening hours for a crowd-free experience
  • Enjoy undivided attention and in-depth commentary from your own private guide

What You Can Expect

Private Tour: Ottoman Istanbul Full-Day Tour with Optional After-Hours Visit to Hagia Sophia

Admire the brilliant blue tiles of the Blue Mosque on your private full-day tour

Select your tour option when you book, and on the day, begin with a pickup from your central Istanbul hotel. Meet your private guide, receive a blue-and-white ‘evil eye’ token as a gift, and settle into your private, air-conditioned minivan.

If you’ve chosen to visit the Hagia Sophia during its regular opening hours, make your way first to this incredible UNESCO-protected building for a 1-hour guided tour. Step inside with your guide and marvel at the soaring dome and glittering mosaics as you hear about its tangled history. Constructed as a Christian basilica by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, this astonishing edifice was converted to a mosque by the Ottomans in 1453.

Continue to the exquisite Blue Mosque, whose six minarets are a famous fixture on Istanbul’s skyline. Head inside for a guided tour of the stunning interior — a vision of bright blue, delicately painted Iznik tiles. Next, stop by at the Hippodrome, the city's former Ottoman chariot-racing arena, and then pay a visit to the Topkapi Palace. This opulent palace was the power base of the Ottoman sultans for more than 400 years, and boasts ornamental courtyards, rich chambers and lavish treasures that bear witness to the sultans’ wealth and pampered lives.

After lunch at a local restaurant (see the Itinerary for a sample menu), dive into the Grand Bazaar. Delve into the chaotic corridors and browse the colorful stalls hawking carpets, lanterns, leather and other goodies. Refuel with a Turkish coffee along the way, and then finish with a waterfront stroll to admire stirring views over the Bosphorus Strait and city skyline.

Your tour then concludes with a hotel drop-off.

Optional Early Morning or Evening Visit to Hagia Sophia
Upgrade to enjoy an early morning or evening visit to the Hagia Sophia and enjoy a 1-hour tour with your private guide, but without the crowds!

Choose to arrive before the official 9am opening time and be one of the first of the day to experience its glorious interior. Alternatively, select an evening visit as the last port of call on your private tour. Arrive after the official closing time of 6pm in winter (November to March), or 8pm in summer (April to October), and make the most of the interior free from the noise and bustle of the main daytime crowds.

Itinerary

Customer Reviews

mpdoucakis United States of ... 

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2016

Our tour guide Hande was awesome!!! She was very knowledgeable and full of very interesting information about all of the stops on our tour, and we chatted about all things Istanbul in between the stops. Since this was our first full day in Istanbul, we had not yet ventured past the Taksim Square area. What a beautiful and interesting city so full of history and beauty!!! We always had plenty of time to see everything and ask questions. The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market were absolutely amazing and so unique!!! Hande is such a natural tour guide, and she is hands down one of the best that we have ever had in any country!!!

Debra C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended April 2016

Fantastic tour-our guide Hamde was lovely and very knowledgable. We had plenty of time in each attraction. The included lunch was very yummy. Well worth it.

Yasemin B

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

The tour was excellent! We would definitely recommend it for those who have limited time in Istanbul. Our guide was also very knowledgable on the sites we visited. Be aware that your guides will take you to their preferred retailers as they gain profit from your purchases. Other than that, great!

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