Istanbul Culture & history

Our most recommended Istanbul Culture & history

Istanbul: Bosphorus Dinner Cruise & Show with Private Table

1. Istanbul: Bosphorus Dinner Cruise & Show with Private Table

Enjoy magical views of Istanbul from the Bosphorus on this dinner cruise. Sail on a yacht and watch a show with traditional Turkish folk dancing. Enjoy dinner and drinks while seeing sights like the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Galata Tower, and the Bosphorus Bridge.  Choose from a cruise with hotel pickup and drop-off from Istanbul via an air-conditioned van or meet directly at the port. Enjoy options including unlimited soft drinks, unlimited alcoholic drinks, or both. Pick between a standard meal or a VIP option. Savor an appetizer plate with options like a seasonal salad or hot starters. Choose a main course like mixed grilled meat, seasonal fish, or a vegetarian menu. Finish your meal with a sweet dessert.  Dine on your tasty food while watching live entertainment like Turkish folk dancing, Latin flamenco dancing, and a DJ. Gaze out the window at the imposing Galata Tower and Maiden's Tower, which has stood since the medieval Byzantine period. Capture pictures of the Baroque Revival architecture of Dolmabahçe Palace and the Ortaköy Mosque. Admire the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridges which span the Bosphorus strait. Take in the waterside Ottoman architecture of the Beylerbeyi Palace. Vip Menu Starters: • 10 types of mixed Turkish appetizers or mixed seafood appetizers • Vegetable pastrami pie • Fish pastry • Shrimp stew • Fish meatballs • Grilled squid Main Dishes: • Mushroom beef stragozate • Beef medallion • Mixed grill plate (meatballs, lamb skewers, steak, chops) • Vegetarian vegetable casserole • Seasonal seafood grill • Italian pasta types • Salad • Mediterranean Turkish salad Desert and Fruit: • Mixed Special Turkish desert or fruity chocolate cake • Unlimited local and non-alcoholic beverages

Istanbul: Topkapi Palace Fast Track Entry with Guide & App

2. Istanbul: Topkapi Palace Fast Track Entry with Guide & App

After you meet your local guide, you will skip the ticket lines and get inside the fastest way. Once inside the Topkapi Palace, you can discover the three courtyards, terraces with astonishing views, as well as precious collections at your own pace and enjoy the highlights of this stunning. Starting from the square and fountain in front of the Topkapi Palace, you can see explore each of the famous gates while listening to interesting stories and surprising details about legendary figures from history.

Istanbul: Bosphorus Music and Dinner Cruise w/ Private Table

3. Istanbul: Bosphorus Music and Dinner Cruise w/ Private Table

Join a sightseeing dinner cruise along the Bosphorus Strait. Enjoy a welcome cocktail and dine with live entertainment. Pass some of Istanbul's most famous monuments, including Dolmabahçe Palace. Cruise between Europe and Asia and pass under the Bosphorus Bridge and Fatih Sultan Mehmed Bridge. See the summer palaces of the Ottoman sultans, including Dolmabahçe Palace and Beylerbeyi Palace. Admire the fortifications of Rumeli Castle and Anatolian Castle, and marvel at the mansions that line both coastlines. Watch live folk dances from the regions of Turkey, be seduced by a belly dancer, and relax to international music played by the on-board DJ.

İstanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Tour with Historian Guide

4. İstanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Tour with Historian Guide

Learn all about Istanbul’s Ottoman heritage, and visit one of the city’s top landmarks, on this small-group tour of the Topkapi Palace and the Harem chambers. Avoid the queues with fast track entry and explore the sprawling 15th Century palace and its expansive museum with an expert guide. Explore the extensive complex that winds down towards the Bosphorus. The palace itself is a balance of huge courtyards, cavernous council chambers and winding secret passageways, which were built to ensure the Ottoman sultans and their families could enjoy maximum privacy and discretion. A highlight of the tour is the Imperial Harem, comprising over 400 chambers in one of the sultan’s private apartments. The rooms are characterized by colorful mosaic floors and stained glass windows, and provide incredible insight into the private world of the Ottoman court.

Istanbul: Basilica Cistern & Hagia Sophia Combo Tour

5. Istanbul: Basilica Cistern & Hagia Sophia Combo Tour

See two of Istanbul's most famous sites with this combo guided tour of the Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sofia. Enjoy a guided tour inside both sites and save valuable time to see more of the city. Experience the freedom to visit both sites in one day or over two days. Skip-the-line at the Basilica Cistern and meet your guide at the entrance and avoid waiting in two lines to gain entry. Descend into the mysterious sixth-century water reservoir, and see a new side of Istanbul that you haven't seen before. Enjoy a 30-minute orientation tour of the museum, and then enjoy free time to stay as long as you like to explore the museum and learn more about the Cistern's history in Istanbul. Meet your guide for the Hagia Sofia at specific times in front of the world-famous structure. Enter with your knowledgeable guide and listen as they give a 30-minute tour of the museum before taking your time exploring the rest of the museum. Discover the Unesco heritage site at your own pace and enjoy an included audio app with more information about the site.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi & Basilica Combo Ticket

6. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi & Basilica Combo Ticket

Be free to visit the Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, and Hagia Sophia at any time for three consecutive days. Skip the ticket lines and browse through the fascinating museums at your own pace. Uncover the secrets of each location with the help of an informative audioguide. You can choose to visit all 3 museums in 1 day, or the three of them separately on different days. Once inside the museums, get tips on how to discover the museums in the best way. Afterward, you can stroll through the museums at your own pace as you listen to your audio guide app and explore for as long as you like. If you have any questions about the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, the Cisterna Basilica, or Istanbul in general, please do not hesitate to ask your English-speaking tour guide.

Istanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Ticket, Tour & Audio Guide

7. Istanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Ticket, Tour & Audio Guide

Get skip-the-line entry to the glorious Topkapi Palace of Istanbul. Explore the museum with a guide, then take the time to discover the treasures at your own pace with an audio guide. Learn all about the palace's opulent pavilions, jewel-filled Treasury, and sprawling Harem. Meet your guide in front of the museum and go directly to the entrance. Save 2 to 3 hours by skipping the line. Following security checks, discover the council hall, arms and armory section, and holy relics with your guide. Learn about the palace's colorful history. Then, enjoy the palace at your own pace with an audio guide. Take a long coffee break while enjoying a spectacular view of the Bosphorus. You can see all of the palace in an hour, or you can choose to stay inside for several hours to explore fully at your leisure.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Skip-the-Line Tour

8. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Skip-the-Line Tour

Discover the classic monuments of Istanbul on a half-day guided tour of the city center, including skip-the-line entry to Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Visit the colorful and lively Grand Bazaar to shop unique local products. Start your trip with pickup directly from your chosen hotel or pickup point, and then make your way by air-conditioned vehicle to Sultan Ahmet Square. Skip the long lines to Hagia Sophia, built on the site of an earlier church under the orders of Emperor Justinian I. Learn how it became the largest cathedral in the world and was later converted to a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. Continue to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, and see the blue Iznik tiles and minarets of the city's most iconic attraction. Learn more about the former arena of the Byzantine Empire at the ruins of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Round off your trip at the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world with more than 60 streets and 5000 shops. Stop into an authentic oriental atmosphere and see all kinds of gifts, leather clothing, rugs, antiques, jewelry, hand-woven fabrics, and more.

Istanbul: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour

9. Istanbul: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour

Discover the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Hippodrome on a private or shared guided walking tour in Istanbul. Admire the historic architecture and unique views of the city. Get an insider perspective of these must-see sights. Meet your guide in the Sultanahmet neighborhood at an easy spot and check out Istanbul's greatest monuments on a walking tour with an expert guide. Start with the Blue Mosque, the most visited monument in Istanbul famous for its stunning blue tiles. Marvel at this imperial Ottoman Mosque, commissioned by Sultan Ahmet. Witness the evocative power and splendor of its past as you enjoy a comprehensive guided tour of the Blue Mosque. Afterward, enjoy the courtyard for breathtaking views of modern Istanbulites and take a stroll around the neighborhood. Walk through the Hippodrome, the social and political center of the city, and learn about the significance of the famous obelisks. Visit the Hagia Sophia and witness the most significant site of the Greek Orthodox religion in Istanbul and learn how it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Explore the stunning monument with elements of a mosque and a church standing next to each other. Admire the basilica’s stunning dome and minarets, and countless mosaics, paintings, and Roman columns. Learn how the impressive İznik tiles were added over time in the Mosque, how the stunning Virgin Mary mosaic was made, and why the Ottomans chose to bury their sultans in the courtyard. Explore the Arasta Bazaar nestled right under the shadow of the Blue Mosque to understand 17th Century architecture of public buildings. It is a well-known but modest open-air market in the heart of Sultanahmet. Enjoy a last-minute tea break and hunt for gifts to take home. End your tour in Sultanahmet Square with enough information and hints to help you be independent for the rest of your time in Istanbul.

Istanbul: Bosphorus and Golden Horn Cruise with Audio Guide

10. Istanbul: Bosphorus and Golden Horn Cruise with Audio Guide

Hop on a sightseeing cruise to tour the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. Get a fresh look at Istanbul on this boat tour with an audio guide to tell you all the top tales as you glide by Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Maiden's Tower, and Galata Tower. Sail as far south to see the Bosphorus Bridge. Meet your host on the other side of Hagia Sophia and walk down to the pier behind the grand mosque. Jump on board to discover the Golden Horn, considered to be the world’s largest natural harbor. Sail through the magnificent Bosphorus strait forming the continental boundary between Asia and Europe. On your way, come across cultural and historical emblems of Istanbul like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Maiden's Tower, and Galata Tower. Learn about the city’s rich heritage with an audio guide. Admire the Bosphorus coastline on the European side from the cruise, and see a string of villages, each with its own individual character and attractions. Glide past Dolmabahçe Palace, Ciragan Palace, Ortaköy Mosque, and the Bosphorus Bridge, among others. Be sure to keep an eye out for ancient castles, famous parks, and spectacular seaside residences from different centuries. Capture stunning pictures of the vibrant city of Istanbul along the water on this scenic cruise.

  • Entry tickets
  • Guided tours
  • Day trips
  • Multi-day trips
  • Private tours
252 activities found
Sort by:
Page 1 of 16

Frequently asked questions about Istanbul

What top attractions are a must-see in Istanbul?

What are the best day trips and excursions from Istanbul?

The best day trips and excursions from Istanbul are:

Bursa

Other Sightseeing Options in Istanbul

Want to discover all there is to do in Istanbul? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Istanbul

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 3,125 reviews

We thoroughly enjoyed our tours of Topkapi Palace + Harem Our guide Cetin was very knowledgeable + it was well worth the extra time + money to visit the harem so interesting! Cetin took us to a beautiful restaurant where we had lunch, our choice to go, before carrying on with our tour. We then visited Hagia Sophia + the Basilica Cistern which were both breathtaking! Cetin was able to work out the best time to visit the attractions to maximise our time, he was a superb guide!

Amazing experience!! We attended as a young couple (26 years old). Service is absolutely amazing, we bought the unlimited drinks package and as soon as our glasses emptied a waiter was over to fill them up. Food was lovely and entertainment brilliant. You can go up to the deck anytime and the view is absolutely breathtaking. Pick up from hotel was on time and return waiting for us when we arrived back to port. Cannot recommend enough!

Good guide, but a long wait at the start when his electronic ticket didn’t work! Afterwards he kindly helped us find a cab during a horrible traffic jam when cabbies actually refused to take us to our hotel.

Everything was perfect, the food was splendid and the dance performances in the backdrop of the city’s skyline, left us spellbound. Overall, a fantastic way to end a day in Istanbul.

Lovely atmosphere, helpful staff and the entertainment was amazing. Really enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you!