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Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

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Spice Bazaar, Istanbul: Our most recommended tours and activities

Istanbul: 1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour with Commentary

1. Istanbul: 1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour with Commentary

Explore the beautiful city of Istanbul at your own pace with this hop-on-hop-off bus ticket including audio commentary in 8 languages. Your ticket is valid for 1 day and will let you spend more time discovering the highlights that most interest you. Jump aboard your double decker bus and enjoy a tour designed for those who want flexibility during their sightseeing exploration of Istanbul. With additional commentary from your audioguide, you will learn interesting facts about key sights whilst savoring delicious complimentary snacks on board. During the route you can stop at locations like Sultanahmet Square, Eminönü, Karaköy, Galataport, Dolmabahçe Palace, Naval Museum, Beylerbeyi Palace, Taksim Square, Beşiktaş Bazaar, Şişhane, and Egyptian Spice Bazaar.

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

2. Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

Discover Istanbul's most iconic sights on a van tour. Listen to your guide recount tales of the city's colorful past as you pass by landmarks such as the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Hippodrome. Round off the experience with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. Start your tour at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which was the sports and social center of the old city. Discover major artworks including the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the fountain of Willhelm II. Then, continue to the Blue Mosque, whose 6 minarets adorn Istanbul’s skyline. Next up is the Topkapi Palace, which was home to Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Marvel at the jewel-stuffed treasury, the Ottoman Empire's imperial collections, and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. If the Topkapi Palace is closed on your trip date, you'll visit the Nakkas Cistern instead. Continue to the Hagia Sophia Mosque, a monument of equal significance to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Behold the dome and stunning mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history. Then, enter the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry to ceramics and leather goods. Take a stroll around the Spice Bazaar and soak in the aroma of different spices, dried fruits, nuts, sweets, and lokum (Turkish Delights).

Istanbul: Full-Day Old City Tour with Cruise and Lunch

3. Istanbul: Full-Day Old City Tour with Cruise and Lunch

Start your tour of Istanbul at the Hagia Sophia Museum, often referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World. Wander through the building's interior, which has been converted into a museum, and admire its beautiful art pieces including several Byzantine mosaics. Next, head to the Blue Mosque and see the 20,000 magnificent blue-toned tiles that give the mosque its name.  Later, head to the Hippodrome of Constantinople, the former political center of the city, where you can learn more about the city's ancient history and see artifacts from the Constantinople era. Learn more about Turkish culture at the Caferağa Medresseh. In the Egyptian spice market, soak up the sights and smells of this bustling food market. During your cruise along the Bosphorus, admire the Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, and the Ciragan Palace Kempinski. Stop for a traditional lunch of meatballs before continuing your cruise, taking in views of ancient wooden villas and bridges and other unique maritime landscapes.

Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

4. Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

Explore Istanbul on a guided tour. Choose from a 1-day tour to top attractions like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, or a 2-day tour with a cruise on the Bosphorus straight and a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace and Istiklal Street. Pick from a walking tour or a driving tour.  Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, 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 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 holds the position for the 4th largest dome. 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, 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 into the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. Visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. See the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column, the 3 remaining monuments from the original building. Pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Complete your day with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handicraft 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 the Bosphorus and there are 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: 7 Hours Highlights Tour Include Entry Fees&Lunch

5. Istanbul: 7 Hours Highlights Tour Include Entry Fees&Lunch

This is a fully guided tour inside the Topkapi palace ( Ottoman Parliament House for 400 years ), The Harem, Aya Irine Church museum, Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Konstantine Forum and Grand Bazaar. Along the way, stop to hear the stories of the Roman Hippodrome (including the Egyptian Obelisk and Serpent Column German Fountain), mausoleums of Ottoman sultans and Constantine’s forum where it is believed the True Cross is buried under. Take a break for lunch and enjoy traditional Turkish cuisine in a friendly setting at a non-touristy restaurant where your gourmet guide will choose some memorable food for you. 

Bosphorus Tour With Lunch

6. Bosphorus Tour With Lunch

Istanbul is a city that inspires body and soul with its power. From the noise of the Grand Bazaar to the peaceful beauty of the Blue Mosque, no trip to Istanbul is complete without a view of this sprawling metropolis from the Bosphorus. On this cruise and two-continents tour, accompanied by your multilingual tour guide, you will be treated to several stops along this epic waterway, which divides Europe and Asia. After a short stop at the Spice Bazaar, head to Kabatas from where your ferry leaves at 10:30 AM and returns back around 12:00 PM. During this 1.5-hour cruise, you will see sights like Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, Ciragan Palace and Rumeli Fortress, ancient wooden villas, 2 Bosporus bridges and maritime landscapes. After the Bosphorus cruise, you will be transfer to the restaurant. After a nice lunch, you will now jump continents and set sail for Asia. It’s time to head to Camlica Hill which offers perfect panoramic views of the city from almost 300 meters above sea level. The tour ends with a return to your hotel or cruise ship.

Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Customizable Guided Tour

7. Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Customizable Guided Tour

Explore Istanbul according to your own interests on a tailor-made sightseeing tour. Meet your guide at your hotel or port and work together to create an itinerary that suits you best, leaving you satisfied that you have seen all of Istanbul. On 1st day, marvel at monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, such as Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and Byzantine Cistern. On 2nd day, take the public ferry to Bosphorus to see both Istanbul’s European and Asian sides. From here, visit Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Galata area and the Spice Market. On 3rd day, guide takes you on a walk through the streets of Fener-Balat neighboorhood. Enjoy a cable car ride and soak up views of Pierre Loti Hill, then visit Iron Church, and see the Suleymaniye Mosque. You can create your own itinerary with your tour guide on tour day, to have an idea, here you can see our suggested tour itineraries are below; Day 1 - Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome Square, Byzantine Cistern, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Irene Church, Sogukcesme Street, Grand Bazaar Day 2 - Spice Market, Bosphorus Cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Cicek Passage, Galata Tower (from outside) Day 3 - Suleymaniye Mosque, Fener and Balat Districts, St. Stephen Church (Iron Church), Pierre Lotti Panoramic Hill, Rahmi Koc Museum (or alternative options)

Istanbul: 4-hour Turkish Shopping Experience

8. Istanbul: 4-hour Turkish Shopping Experience

From the ancient Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry, to ceramics and leather goods; to the Spice Bazaar with its incredible smell from almost every spice imaginable, as well as dried fruits and nuts, sweets and the ubiquitous Turkish Delight; it is mind blowing to the first time visitor. This is not helped by the traders shouting out and tempting you in with various offers, many of which will be quickly forgotten should you venture inside. This is a part of Turkish culture and trade, and very common in other countries where negotiating and barter is the norm. To the Westerner who is not used to this, it can be quite a daunting prospect and visitors sometimes fall prey to the more unscrupulous traders. To prevent this and to ensure a pleasurable and happy shopping experience your guide will bring you to the right places to make your purchases. Many of these can only be found on the backs streets outside the two bazaars, in places you would likely never find or enter by yourself. The whole Turkish culture and tradition of buying from recommended traders is still observed. You will be encouraged to: · sit and drink huge quantities of tea · talk about yourself · ask questions · look at a huge array of merchandise · negotiate, as no trader is happy if you just accept their first price This is part of the whole process, one where making friends is as important as the purchase itself. The one secret to negotiating is not trying to drive the price down to the absolute lowest possible point, as you have no idea what that is. Each trader will assess each customer differently on any given day. Mood will play its part as will how much they like you and get on with you, hence the reason for going through the sociable elements before buying. If you can’t agree on a price you are free to walk away but if you do you will leave with the comfort of knowing your purchase is genuine and not some back street fake. What to Buy Carpets/Kilim The Turkish carpet/kilim has a long history dating back hundreds of years. An original Turkish carpet is handmade using only natural fibres and dyes from plant extract. The process is long and slow and obviously the time taken to make one depends on how big it is. Smaller carpets, with their bright colours are quite often used to hang on walls just as you would with a picture. There are many different characteristics to the Turkish carpet, depending on where the material is from and this also influences the design and price. The carpet shops recommended by your guide will take time to explain everything to you and offer advice on what might be your best choice. Ceramics The production of Turkish ceramics dates back to the 15th Century and developed from the appreciation of Chinese porcelain by the Ottoman Sultans. Being unable to produce porcelain they manufactured fritware, which is a low-fired body comprised mainly of silica and glass. These ceramics are more commonly referred to as Iznik Pottery after the region where they were first produced and the real collector’s items are hand painted. Consequently no two pieces are ever the same. Your guide will only take you to the shops and markets selling authentic pieces. Jewellery With 500 years of Ottoman Rule and their desire for opulent jewelry, a whole industry is devoted to keeping the traditions alive with craftsmen passing their knowledge and skills on from one generation to another. The result is an abundance of unique pieces both for design and the gems which adorn them. On your tour you can have confidence in the designers and craftsmen, who will work with you in finding or creating your own unique family heirloom. Leather Turkey has a thriving leather industry offering bags, jackets, coats and trousers, but you have to be very careful as there are so many fakes on the market. That said you can buy exceptional quality leather goods at prices which are usually way below what you would normally pay in your home country. Your guide will only take you to the leather stores and factory outlets, which have a reputation for honest trading and no fakes.

Istanbul: Full-Day Tour with Dolmabahce & Bosphorus Cruise

9. 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.

Istanbul Combo: Classic City Tour & Bosphorus Cruise

10. Istanbul Combo: Classic City Tour & Bosphorus Cruise

Meet your guide at your hotel or port and start the tour with the highlights of Istanbul. See the beautiful Hagia Sophia, admire the great blend of Christian and Islamic influences with beautiful interior of mosaics and significant history. Marvel at the Blue Mosque, a great monument of oriental architecture which houses 27,000 pieces of handmade blue tiles. The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market are two colorful indoor bazaars and have lots of shops offering a variety of spices, rugs, purses, flavored teas, jackets, Turkish delight, nuts, as well as ceramics and small souvenirs. At the end of your tour, why not opt to take a cruise along the Bosphorus to see both Istanbul’s European and Asian sides, Galata Tower, Dolmabahce Palace, the Rumelian Fortress, old Ottoman villas, Bosphorus bridges, and mosques. Tickets can be bought on the spot and the cruise will take place in a public ferry (unless you book the Private Yacht option).

Other Sightseeing Options in Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

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What people are saying about Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 1,997 reviews

The tour guide gave lot of information. It wasn’t rushed. Managed to see all the places which is mentioned in the tour. It would be helpful if it is mentioned that if one stayed in hotel in the area where all the places visited are , that the tour time could be later than 08.15 start as we didn’t start the tour till 10.00am. However we were contacted by the tour company that we could arrive at the meeting point at 09.15. Any later than we would have to queue much longer.

We had an exciting experience!!! My sister and I coming from South Africa truly enjoyed the amazing culture of Istanbul, the tour was amazing. I tour guide was excellent and gave us so much context with regards to the places we visited and the history. Visiting the Mosques, Palace and Grand Bazaar was breath taking. I would definitely recommend this tour to any tourist visiting Istanbul. Thanks for an amazing experience.

Gamze was a fantastic guide, very adaptable to what I wanted to see, super informative and great fun too. She has a real passion to share all about this wonderful city! Great recommendations for food places and rooftop bars too that I was able to share and enjoy with a friend. Thank you for all your time and efforts, I highly recommend this tour!

The tour was excellent. Very good explanations of each place in our language, very nice air conditioning and the girls who attended us did it very well and with great kindness.

Very knowledgeable guide, detailed history and los of walking exercise