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

1. 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.

Istanbul: Full-Day Guided Tour

2. Istanbul: Full-Day Guided Tour

Istanbul straddles East and West, enticing your senses and expanding your perceptions of the world around you. Todays full day tour will give you a glimpse at some of Istanbul's incredible sites and sounds and leave you with a deeper understanding of this rich land. Begin your day at one of Istanbul's greatest architectural masterpieces - the Hagia Sophia. This 6th century basilica will stun you with its towering minarets and beautiful handcrafted mosaics. It is called, by some, the 8th wonder of the world and you'll soon see why. Soon after your visit to Hagia Sophia, head across the street to the Blue Mosque. One of the most famous monuments in all of Turkey, the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque) is a monument to the Ottoman empire and its builders. It gets its name from the more than 20,000 Iznik blue tiles that adorn its facade and interior and its history will impress you as you receive a tour. Then step back in time a bit to the Hippodrome. Here, imagine what life might have been like as locals traveled to see the chariot races at this famous sports arena. The area dates back to Egyptian times and there are still relics of the past dotted around this incredible area. With so much history, it's time to take a little shopping break. Head to the Grand Bazaar, where you'll have the chance to barter on everything from fine leather goods, to spices and plenty of sweets to satisfy your sweet tooth. There are nearly 4000 stalls here, so you're sure to find something for yourself.  After lunch visit the recently discovered and restored Şerefiye Cistern, which was built by Roman Emperor Theodosius II between 428 and 443 to store water supplied by the Valens Aqueduct (Roman Period Water Reservoir). Your tour ends here.

Istanbul Private Guided Tour

3. Istanbul Private Guided Tour

Discover the highlights of Istanbul on a private full-day tour that takes in the major attractions. Begin with 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. Move on to the Blue Mosque, officially known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. It is the mosque's striking blue tiles that give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul's most iconic attractions. Continue to Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. You will also visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. See the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. You'll also get to check out the gazebo-like German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Finally, stop at 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.

Istanbul Old City to Grand Bazaar Tour

4. Istanbul Old City to Grand Bazaar Tour

See the highlights of Istanbul on a full-day sightseeing tour of the only city in the world on 2 continents. Visit the Blue Mosque to admire its minarets and iconic Iznik tiles that adorn its interior. Then, go to the ancient Hagia Sophia, built by the Emperor Justinian in 537 AD. Hear how the building served as a church and later mosque, and admire the Byzantine mosaics of the museum. Explore the former residence of the Ottoman sultans at Topkapi Palace overlooking the Golden Horn. Go for a walk in the grounds to get a stunning view of the Bosphorus. End at the Grand Bazaar and soak up the atmosphere of one of the world's largest covered markets.

Istanbul: Top Attractions Tour with Skip-the-line Tickets

5. Istanbul: Top Attractions Tour with Skip-the-line Tickets

See Sultanahmet with your own eyes as an awe-inspiring hotspot for visitors with four prestigious hillside monuments and much more. Visit the world-famous Blue Mosque, Istanbul’s premier sight. Blue Mosque in Istanbul is an essential part of any Istanbul tour that lets you see mosque architecture and learn the basics of Islam in a very relevant setting. Walk the gardens and courtyards of Topkapı Palace to witness the glory of the Ottomans. Topkapı Palace is a place of opulence, complexity, and mystery that inspires awe and is a must to see on your Istanbul tour. Visit the inspiring Hagia Sophia, which on its own, justifies a visit to Istanbul. The church of the Divine Wisdom is eternally impressive and important with its extraordinary dimensions and beauty. You can expect to have in-depth explanations of the monument as part of your tour.  The Grand Bazaar is a classical example of Ottoman civil architecture in Istanbul and deserves a visit not only for the shopping experience but also to see the way it was built. This ultimate medieval shopping center is a monstrous hive of little shops all under one roof and cut up into labyrinthal alleys. Grand Bazaar is Turkey’s largest and oldest covered market offering excellent shopping opportunities: Iznik Tiles of glass crystal and quartz; traditional woven items in organic cotton, linen, and silk; kaftans of many colors, endless jewels, pashmina throws, leather jackets, inlaid backgammon sets, magic carpets, golden bangles, copper plates, good books and good conversations with Turkish tea in small glasses. Have one of the most fascinating touring experiences of your travel life! 

Istanbul: Dolmabahce Palace and Grand Bazaar Tour

6. Istanbul: Dolmabahce Palace and Grand Bazaar Tour

Learn all you need to know about the Ottoman Empire on a half-day tour of Dolmabahce Palace, beautifully situated on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul. Built in the 19th century on an old bay of the Bosphorus where the Ottoman fleet would anchor, the palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and home to the last of the sultans. A licensed guide will take you on a tour of the palace complex, explaining its history and function. Hear annecdotes about a youthful Ataturk, father of the Turkish Republic, and how he would welcome foreign guests for international conferences and other state functions. Continue to the Grand Bazaar to discover one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. Haggle with the vendors for bargain carpets, jewelry, leather work and other souvenirs, before the transfer back to your hotel.

Topkapi, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome & Bazaar

7. Topkapi, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome & Bazaar

Your 6-hour tour begins in the morning with a short drive from your hotel to the the ancient Byzantine Hippodrome, where your guide will show you the Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine Column, and Fountain of Wilhelm II. Afterwards you’ll visit the Blue Mosque, known for its 6 elegant minarets and blue Iznik tiles. See the Saint Sophia Museum, built as a church during the reign of Emperor Theodosius and destroyed in the fire of Nika Revolt in 532 A.D. After a lunch break at a local restaurant (included in the tour price), you’ll visit the Topkapi Palace, the residence and administrative center of the Ottoman sultans. You’ll also have the chance to shop for some Turkish handicrafts before the transfer back to your hotel.

Istanbul Old City Full-Day Tour

8. Istanbul Old City Full-Day Tour

Travel through time on a full-day tour of Istanbul, and see the main monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Following a pick-up from your hotel, transfer to the Hippodrome, site of major political life and sports activities during the Roman and Bzyantine Empires. Marvel at the last remaining monuments at the complex, including the Obelisk from Egypt and the Serpentine Column from Delphi. Next, go to the Church of St. Sophia, also known as the “Church of Holy Wisdom,” and “Hagia Sophia.” One of the world's architectural masterpieces, the former church and mosque is now a museum of artifacts from Byzantium. Continue to the Blue Mosque to see the city’s icon up close. Famed for its stunning Iznik tiles, the building’s graceful minarets can be seen from many points in the city. Next, explore the narrow lanes of the Grand Bazaar, the oldest and largest covered market in the world. Discover decorative jewelry, leather work, souvenirs and carpets in more than 4.000 shops. Your next stop will be Topkapi Palace, former residence of the Ottoman sultans, now home to an exquisite collection of crystal, silverware, and Chinese porcelain, as well as robes worn by the sultans, and the jewels of the Imperial Treasury. Then, head to Sultans Tombs. Made up of 5 tombs of the Ottoman Sultans, within the graveyard at St. Sophia, these ceramic panels are the most beautiful examples of the 16th century with purple, green, blue and red flower motives. The prince's robes and a small piece from the Kaaba covers are displayed on the sarcophaguses. Please note, Sultans Tombs are closed on Monday and will be replaced with a visit to the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque.

Private Tour of Istanbul: Hagia Sophia & Grand Bazaar & More

9. Private Tour of Istanbul: Hagia Sophia & Grand Bazaar & More

The morning sun hits your face as you look out across the Bosphorus to a different continent. Here in Istanbul, the crossroads of the world, your day of excitement is just beginning. Today you'll be treated to a full day private tour of this exquisite town. Begin your journey at the Hagia Sophia. This incredible architectural wonder has stood on these grounds for centuries. For years it was the largest church in the world, but it is the dome that makes it stand out to this day. The church's name means "Divine Wisdom" and you'll soon discover why. Next, walk across the park to the Blue Mosque. Snap some pictures of the thousands of blue tiles that give this mosque its nickname. In Turkish, they still call it Sultanahmet Mosque, as it stands close to the Topkapi Palace and was used by the leaders of the city during their reign. After the more "modern" visits, we'll step back in time to the Hippodrome, built in 203 C.E. The Roman Emperor Septimus Severus built these grounds as a place for fun and games, and today they serve as a reminder of Istanbul's long history. We then head to Topkapi Palace, the home of rulers during the Ottoman Empire. Your guide explains to you its history and you can explore its many rooms filled with incredible relics of the past. Finally we head out for some shopping in the Grand Bazaar. These nearly 4,000 shops and stalls have everything your heart desires, so try your hand at bartering for the best deals around!

Istanbul: Best of Istanbul Tour with Lunch and Tickets

10. Istanbul: Best of Istanbul Tour with Lunch and Tickets

Meet your guide next to German Fountain and head first to the Hippodrome where chariot races were held during the Roman Empire. Next, marvel at the Blue Mosque, built in the early 1600s for Sultan Ahmet I, this is truly a masterpiece of architecture. The blue shade of the 27,000 pieces of Iznik quart tiles give the mosque it’s popular name and six towering minarets give its uniquely recognizable structure. Continue to Hagia Sophia to see a great blend of Christian and Islamic influences. Built in the 6th century by the emperor Justinian I, the building played a very important role in the Christian and Islamic worlds. After the Ottoman conquest, the bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over to convert the church into a mosque.   The next stop is at the Topkapi Palace, more than just an imperial residence for Ottoman sultans, it was the seat of the supreme executive and judiciary council for almost 400 years. Topkapi Palace is a great monument of Asian architecture which houses exhibits of art, books, jewels, plates, costumes, and the Holy Relics. The tour concludes with a visit to the city’s Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world with over 4,000 shops. It was constructed in the 15th century and became the commercial hub of the trade between Asia and Europe.

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What people are saying about Grand Bazaar

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 571 reviews

My guide (Musa) was exceptional and was very well versed in the history of Istanbul. He was very knowledgeable, friendly, and kind. I could not have asked for a better day-long tour in Istanbul. He was very open to customizing the tour based on my interests and made me feel very comfortable and at ease navigating Istanbul. Thank you so much, my friend!

We had an exceptional guide, very nice who also spoke Italian, he explained a lot of things about Turkey and Istanbul he took us to the most beautiful streets and gave us exhaustive answers to any question.

Guide was professional, polite and highly informed. Really enjoyed the tour. We would highly recommend it.

We had a lot of fun and a lot of interesting moments with our very nice tour guide Kadir Küçükeren

Great experience, the guide (Emre) is very knowledgeable, kind. To recommend !!