Golden Horn
Activities

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Our most recommended Golden Horn Activities

Istanbul: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

1. Istanbul: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

See all the sights of Istanbul on this hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus. Choose between flexible Classic and Premium tickets. Save money with a family ticket and take the kids to child-friendly sites such as the Dolphinarium or the Miniatürk model village, where Turkey’s most important monuments are recreated in miniature. You will have access to 2 routes. Buses come regularly and frequently on both routes. Informative recorded commentary is available in 8 different languages, including English, Turkish, Arabic, Russian, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Complimentary earphones are provided. Jump off at any of the stops on the Red Route and see architecture from the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. Cross the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia to see the Beylerbeyi Palace and watch all the activity of the Bosphorus Straits. Marvel at the old city wall of Constantinople and the Roman Aqueduct on the Golden Horn/Blue Route, which also includes the iconic Blue Mosque. The City Tour (Red) Route: • Sultanahmet Square • Galata Bridge • Tophane • Port • Dolmabahçe • Naval Museum • Beylerbeyi Palace • Akaretler / W Hotel • Taksim Square • Egyptian Spice Bazaar Golden Horn/Blue Route: • Sultanahmet Square • Galata Bridge • Patriarchate • Cable Car • Dolphinarium • Miniatürk • Transport Museum / Rahmi Koç Museum • Egyptian Spice Bazaar

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Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

2. Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hipporome, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar Explore the highlights of Istanbul on this private full-day walking tour that covers the major attractions, from the Hagia Sophia Museum, to the iconic Blue Mosque, to the bustling maze of the Grand Bazaar, to the obelisk of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. The 8-hour excursion starts with a pick-up from your Istanbul hotel and a walk through the lively streets of Turkey’s largest city to visit the dramatic former basilica of the Hagia Sophia, a great architectural beauty and an important monument during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. For many centuries, this was the largest church in the world, and it still boasts the 4th largest dome after St. Paul's in London, St. Peter's in Rome and the Duomo in Florence. Dedicated to the Hagia Sophia  or 'divine wisdom', it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Move on to the Blue Mosque, more officially known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. The mosque’s striking blue tiles give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul’s most iconic attractions. Located close to Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque was considered the Supreme Imperial Mosque in Istanbul. Continue to Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. The former palace boasted a population of about 4,000 people at its peak and was home to 25 sultans over a period of 400 years. Located on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, it sits in tranquil gardens that provide shade from the blazing heat of the summer. Pop in to the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. You will also visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Three monuments from the original building remain, including the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. You will also pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Your day won’t be complete, however, without a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handcraft shops selling everything from handmade carpets to Turkish coffee, the atmosphere is electric, and it's a great place to try out your bargaining skills. Day 2 – Spice Bazaar, Bosphorus cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Istiklal Street, Taksim The spice bazaar is located in Fatih. It's known as the Egyptian Market because, during the Ottoman period, Egyptian exports were sold there. The Bosphorus is a narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses are located at the narrowest point of Bosphorus. There are also magnificent Ottoman palaces and mosques along the Bosphorus. Keep an eye out for them! Built in the 19th century, Dolmabahce Palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and housed some of the last Ottoman Sultans. The palace site was created by filling in the small bay on the Bosphorus. This gave rise to its name, in Turkish, Dolma means 'filled' or 'stuffed,' and bahce means 'garden'. Istiklal Street is brimming with life. There, you'll find a plethora of shops, restaurants, and bars. From there, it is a 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area.

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Istanbul: Golden Horn and Bosphorus Tour with Audio App

3. Istanbul: Golden Horn and Bosphorus Tour with Audio App

After finishing your busy day of sightseeing around Istanbul, you can relax on this 2-hour Golden Horn and Bosphoros cruise. You will meet your guide across from the Hagia Sophia, from where you will go together down to the pier behind the building. From there you will discover the Golden Horn, including the 32-kilometer-long Bosphorus which separates Europe and Asia. You will be able to see Istanbul’s main attractions, including magnificent palaces, ancient castles, and famous hills and parks, as well as spectacular seaside residences from different centuries. All of this sightseeing will of course include your passing under Istanbul's many famous bridges. You will pass by Dolmabahce Palace, Ciragan Palace, Ortaköy Mosque, Bosphorus Bridge, Rumeli Fortress and Beylerbeyi Palace. You will also get to see some historical landmarks from a distance, such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Maiden Tower, and Galata Tower. 

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Istanbul: Half-Day Cruise and Bus Tour with Lunch

4. Istanbul: Half-Day Cruise and Bus Tour with Lunch

Explore Istanbul in 3 fascinating ways on this action-packed, 3.5- to 4-hour sightseeing tour by boat, then grab lunch in Sultanahmet. Take an amazing cruise between the 2 continents of Europe and Asia. Sail along the Bosphorus by the Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi Palaces, wooden villas and mansions, all the way up to the Rumeli Fortress near the Black Sea. See imposing Rumeli Fortress, Yildiz Palace, and wooden Ottoman houses. Then head back to shore to wonder at the ancient City Walls, iron-paneled St Stephen's Church, and colorful former-Jewish district on a bus tour to the Golden Horn. Finish with a memorable experience in Istanbul's iconic old city, Sultanahmet. Settle in for a delicious lunch.

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Istanbul: Full-Day Tour with Dolmabahce & Bosphorus Cruise

5. Istanbul: Full-Day Tour with Dolmabahce & Bosphorus Cruise

Get a comprehensive overview of Istanbul on this full-day tour of the city by coach, boat, and cable car. Perfect for those who aim to get a sense of what makes Istanbul unique, this full-day exploration gives a varied tour of the city. It will reveal a mixture of Eastern and European influences that makes the city so unique. First, get picked up from your hotel by bus and driven along the length of the Golden Horn, the historic water that divides Istanbul. Take in the sites of the historic city center and the main port, dating back to the Ottoman and Byzantine empires. Then, travel to the top of Pierre Loti Hill by cable car, and admire panoramic views of the city as you drink coffee at the famous Pierre Loti Café, named after the French novelist who spent much of his time there.  Next, experience the splendor of Istanbul from the water. In the afternoon, enjoy a relaxing cruise on the Bosphorus and take in the grand spectacle of the city’s houses and palaces from the river. Finally, enjoy a tour of Dolmabahce Palace, home to the last of the Ottoman Sultans. Admire one of the most glamorous palaces in the world, once the administrative heart of the Ottoman Empire.

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Istanbul: Full-Day Golden Horn & Bosphorus Tour

6. Istanbul: Full-Day Golden Horn & Bosphorus Tour

Begin this full-day excursion with a stroll around Pierre Loti Hill. Hop-on a cable car and let it take you to another world where the ancient Byzantine walls of Constantinople, the Chora Church and the Castle of Seven Towers await. Learn about the history of this centuries-old metropolis and how it functioned as both the capital of the eastern Roman Empire and as the head of the Ottoman Empire.  Then, board the boat and cruise around the Bosphorus Strait which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea and separates Europe and Asia, making Istanbul one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the only one built astride two continents. This romantic cruise along the Bosphorus will allow you to admire the Dolmabahce Plalace, the Beylerbeyi Palace, the Ciragan Palace and the Rumeli Fortress, ancient wooden villas, bridges and all the wonderful and unique maritime landscapes.

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Istanbul: 2-Day Historical Tour to Gallipoli and Troy

7. Istanbul: 2-Day Historical Tour to Gallipoli and Troy

Journey through some of the most momentous events in history - separated by centuries - on a 2-day tour of southwest Turkey. Visit the battlefields and war memorials of the ill-fated Anzac Campaign from World War I at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles, and then go to the historic city of Troy, site of the Trojan War and legends of Helen and Paris. Your overnight accommodation will be in the coastal town of Eceabat on a peninsula of the Aegean Sea, and the nearest town to the Gallipoli battlefields. Day 1: Istanbul - Gallipoli Meet for the 7:30 AM bus transfer to Eceabat, with a scheduled arrival at approximately 12:30 PM. Then, start your tour of the Gallipoli war museums, monuments and battlefields, traveling through the dark days of World War I at the Kabatepe War Museum in the Gallipoli Historic National Park. Learn about some of the defining moments of the ill-fated Anzac campaign by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Continue to Beach Cemetery, site of John Simpson´s Grave, one of the best known of the ANZAC soldiers. Discover where the Australian and New Zealand troops set up base at Anzac Cove. Go to Ari Burnu, the 1st landing site of the ANZAC troops. Pay your respects to the fallen Australian soldiers at the Lone Pine Cemetery memorial, and continue to Johnston´s Jolly to walk in the trenches dug by the ANZAC troops. Take in the views of Shrapnel Valley and its Judas tree, before going to the Turkish Memorial to the many Turkish soldiers that lost their lives in the campaign. Next, visit The Nek on the Anzac battlefields. Continue to the small cemetery of Walker´s Ridge near Suvla Bay. Finally, pay your respects to the fallen soldiers of the New Zealand troops at Chunuk Bair. Transfer to your hotel in Eceabat for an evening at leisure. Day 2: Troy Following breakfast at your hotel, transfer to Troy at 8:00 AM. Explore the myths and legends behind the ancient city and Trojan War, including some of its principal players, such as Helen, Menelaus, Zeus and Paris. See the replica of the famous Trojan Horse (used in the Hollywood blockbuster "Troy") at the entrance to the archaeological site, before exploring the remains behind the city walls, including landmark monuments such as the Temple of Athena and the Scaean Gate. Learn where the Trojan Horse was taken at one of the Gates of Troy, and more. The tour of Troy ends at around 11:30 AM. You will then be transferred to the bus station to catch the 1:00 PM bus to İstanbul. Feel free to use the free shuttle to Sultanahmet Square on arrival in Istanbul.

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Istanbul: Hagia Sophia Admission and Bosphorus Cruise

8. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia Admission and Bosphorus Cruise

All trips to Istanbul should include a visit to the most famous Christian church in the world, the Hagia Sophia, located in the old town in front of the Sultanahmet Square. Combine this experience with a river cruise on the Bosphorus. From the boat, admire the city's most historic buildings and almost all seven hills. At the entrance of Hürrem Sultan Hamam, meet a local host who will take you through a fast-track line to enter the site, followed by a short security check. Once inside, explore the gardens and admire the monumental architecture of the building which was reinforced during the Ottoman Era. Enter the building through the main gate and marvel at the frescoes in the first hall. Check out the second floor to see the original frescoes of the Orthodox church and even a mark made from a viking intruder on the wall. Begin either with the cruise or from the Hagia Sophia. Your local host will help you get oriented and advise you of the best time to visit both attractions so as to avoid long lines. You may use the same voucher for both experiences, even on two consecutive days. Please note that you can easily walk from the meeting point to the pier.  The cruise lasts a bit less than two hours and takes you along the Bosphorus and inside the Golden Horn. While on the boat, take photos of the whole city and admire important monuments and mosques from a distance. The boat will return to its departure point and then you are free to walk back to the old town center.

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Gallipoli Full-Day Tour with Lunch from Istanbul

9. Gallipoli Full-Day Tour with Lunch from Istanbul

Travel back to the dark days of World War I and learn about the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915, when western Allies launched a massive attack on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula, leading to the loss of thousands of lives. Following a transfer from your hotel in Istanbul, journey across the Dardanelles to Eceabat on the eastern shore of the Gallipoli Peninsula. Visit the Kabatepe War Museum inside the Gallipoli Historic National Park to learn about the defining moments of the campaign and the involvement of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Continue to Beach Cemetery, site of John Simpson´s Grave, one of the best known of the Anzac soldiers. Then, go to Anzac Cove where the Australian and New Zealand troops set up base during the campaign. See the 1st Anzac landing site at Ari Burnu, and pay your respects to fallen Australian soldiers at Lone Pine Cemetery. See some of the original trenches at Johnston´s Jolly, where unidentified soldiers were buried after the Armistice. Soak up the views of Shrapnel Valley and its Judas tree. Then, go to the Turkish Memorial to remember the many Turkish soldiers that also lost their lives. Continue to The Nek on the Anzac battlefields, and go to Walker´s Ridge, a small cemetery located near Suvla Bay. Finally, pay your respects to the fallen New Zealand soldiers at Chunuk Bair, the main memorial for New Zealand’s Anzac troops, before your return transfer to Istanbul.

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Istanbul: Food Tour around Galata and Karakoy Neighborhoods

10. Istanbul: Food Tour around Galata and Karakoy Neighborhoods

Meet your local expert guide in Karakoy Port for a culinary adventure in Istanbul. Learn all the rich history of Turkey's world-famous cuisine simultaneously with your ears and taste buds. Sample all kinds of street food, from superb Turkish pastries, doner kebab and authentic baklava, to the fishmongers' best and grill joints. Finally, treat yourselves to some authentic Turkish coffee. Start your walking tour on a route leading up the hill to the Galata Tower area and famous Beyoglu. Explore the cobbled streets, historic alleyways, and vibrant food culture. Learn about the area's stunning architecture inspired by Europe and compare it with oriental Sultanahmet. As you visit traditional food stores try delicious treats, such as olives and cheese. There will be plenty of other food sampled along the way as well, such as: desserts, Turkish delight, simit, Turkish tea, mezes, , delicatessen stops, pastrami, clotted cream, and more. Afterwards, you can choose to spend some more time in Galata or follow your guide back to the original meeting point.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Golden Horn

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What people are saying about Golden Horn

We really enjoyed our trip together with Ahmet, our tour guide. He is very knowledgeable of the sites and the history behind these sites. I personally became really interested about the Ottoman empire because of his stories. He also recommended a nice place to eat - the food is very delicious. This activity is highly recommended :).

In my life I have visited several places in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Istanbul immediately won me over by being among my 5 most beautiful cities I have ever visited. A melting pot of cultures and traditions. It releases a unique and magnetic energy. W Istanbul

MR. Shaban the tour guide was very knowledgeable and made our experience very enjoyable with his story telling . He is professional , punctual, courteous and most importantly very passionate about Istanbul and it’s history.

Fantastic day with Çağlar in Italian. Tour at Aya Sofia and Sulejmani mosque with interesting explanations and anecdotes. Saw the Grand Bazaar It helped us a lot to orient ourselves and what to do in Istanbul. Optimal!

Numan is a great guide! He's very pleasant, knowledgeable and flexible. He accommodated to our interests and thanks to him our stay in Istanbul was wonderful