Istanbul is a city that evokes so much charisma and appeal, hard to resist, with rich culture, history, and the sheer colorfulness of its day-to-day life. This transcontinental city in Turkey, located along the Bosphorus, in between Black Sea and Sea of Marmara, offers a tantalizing mix of gorgeous natural and manmade splendors. Istanbul excursions can be a treat for a lifetime, one that can transport you into a voyage into the past while fascinating you with its enigmatic present.…
Top 87 Things to do in Istanbul, Turkey
- All Activities (87)
- Air, Balloon & Helicopter Tours (4)
- Airport Shuttles & Limos (2)
- Attractions (26)
- Culinary Experiences (15)
- Day Cruises & Water Activities (14)
- Events & Shows (2)
- Land Adventures (29)
- Overnight Tours (2)
- Restaurants & Nightlife (16)
- Spas & Beauty (2)
- Sports (2)
- Tickets & Passes (2)
- Tours & Sightseeing (79)
Land in Kayseri and enjoy a picturesque drive to Cappadocia. Freshen up at your hotel and head to Rose Valley, where you follow your guide on a trek through the greenery and red rock formations.
Continue to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Göreme National Park and walk through its fascinating and unusual spires of rock. Hear about the history of the region and how its approximately 2,500 residents go on about their day-to-day lives.
Next, visit the small and traditional village of Çavuşin. Feel like you've gone back in time as you admire the ancient cave church of St. John the Baptist that lies within the hill.
Move on to Kaymakli Underground City and explore this impressive site that dates back to the 8th century as you meander through its maze of passages. Your last stop is at Ortahisar Castle; marvel at the surrounding stone houses, narrow streets, and beautiful churches.
Depending on the offer you've chosen, you can enjoy free time in the town or take to the air in a balloon flight and enjoy some panoramic views before heading to the Devrent Valley. Tour the collection of striking natural rocks that seem to take the shapes of different animals.
Continue to the town of Avanos and learn about its pottery traditions before you get some time to explore at your own pace.
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Day 1: Istanbul–Cappadocia
Begin your tour with a visit to Derinkuyu Underground City. Meander through its many levels and see structures carved out of geological formations.
Pass by the bubbling waters of Nar Golu before reaching Ihlara Valley. Roam through the zigzagging canyon and hike up steps to find rock-carved churches and other glimpses of traditional rural life.
After lunch, stop at Selime Monastery, the biggest rock-cut monastery of Cappadocia, before returning to your hotel for dinner.
Day 2: Cappadocia–Istanbul
Venture to Göreme Valley, a site sculpted by erosion. Discover how wind and rain have worked together to create a surreal landscape—a scene of pillars, cones, and fairy chimneys.
Continue to the citadel of Uçhisar, the tallest point in Cappadocia. Climb atop the rocky outcrop, wander through tunnels, and find millstone doors. As you reach the top, marvel at the panoramic views of the region.
Enjoy lunch, and then visit Zelve, home to many fascinating fairy chimneys. Complete your trip with Cappadocian wine and old pottery in Avanos.
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On this tour limited to 16 people, board a bus with your guide and head to the neighborhood of Ortakoy—a cosmopolitan town during the Ottoman era. Enjoy leisure time to explore this popular area, home to art galleries, boutiques, and bistros, and take a 1-hour cruise to the Second Bosporus Bridge and back.
As you sail through the strait, see how Istanbul and the Ottoman world gradually changed as you admire the beautiful architecture. Discover how the town grew beyond the city boundaries and spot beautiful waterfront homes with views of the Bosporus before you return to dry land and ride back to your hotel. Read More close
Your tour starts with an early morning flight to Izmir province and a stop at the House of Mother Mary. Located at the top of Bulbul Mountain, the Christian and Muslim shrine of the Virgin Mary enjoys solitude amid the verdant greenery.
Upon arrival at Ephesus, dive straight into discovering the ancient Greek city. Stroll along the pathways and meander through the ruins of this iconic city as your guide leads the way. Be sure to visit the granite pillars of the Odeon theater, the 2nd-century Hadrian Temple, the 24,000 seats of the Great Theater, and—of course—the remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Today, the site of the temple is marked by a single column constructed of dissociated fragments discovered on the site.
As you walk along the ancient Ephesian streets, take note of how your surroundings hint at the wealthy urban lifestyle that existed at the height of both the Greek and Roman civilizations. After lunch, your day of ancient sightseeing comes to a close with a trip to the Basilica of St. John, where you get to see the remaining marble pillars that once formed this great church. Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
As you take off from Istanbul and travel east over the Black Sea, gaze out at the beautiful coastline on a clear day. Upon landing in Trabzon, head into the cosmopolitan port town for a sightseeing tour. Part of the town's charm lies in the contrast of ancient and contemporary; see the medieval church-turned-mosque Aya Sofya before wandering through the bustling main square, Atatürk Alani, where the modern world shines through.
Following a tasty traditional lunch, head to the mountains and Altindere National Park with forested valleys and hillsides making spectacular scenery. Tucked into a ledge against steep cliffs is the Sumela Monastery—built in the 4th century. As your guide explains its long and significant history, savor the ethereal atmosphere created by the beautiful landscape and unlikely location before you descend to the coast and return to Istanbul. Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
When dusk sets in, soothing breezes arrive from the Sea of Marmara, and the sky over the city puts on a colorful dress—tinted with shades of orange and rose. The muezzin calls from a towering minaret. Majestic palaces and villas stand still along the strait’s banks, as if nothing has changed over a millennium. You breathe in the legacy of ancient Byzantium, Constantinople, and the mighty Ottoman Empire with each breath of fresh, salty air.
Kick back and ride gentle waves in the comfort of a yacht. Watch the city and its iconic landmarks pass by—a perfect way to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing. Read More close
Upon pickup from your hotel, cross the Bosphorus Bridge, which connects the European and Asian sections of the municipal. Climb the Camlica Hills, Istanbul's highest, and view the awe-inspiring city, which seems to stretch out endlessly.
Feel like a house guest of the former Ottoman regal family with a visit to the Beylerbeyi Palace; this French neo-Baroque style building was the summer residence of the Ottoman sultans. Admire the elegant interior, with its original furniture and European and Asian porcelain, and take a stroll through the immaculate gardens before continuing to Bagdat Street, a fashionable place for Sunday brunch.
Following lunch at a Turkish restaurant, cruise on the Bosphorus, a passage that joins the Sea of Marma and the Black Sea. Sit back and take in the magnificent sights, including the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Bay of Tarabya, and the Rumeli Fortress. Complete your tour with a visit to the vibrant Spice Market, where rare spices and herbs are traded.
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See the Golden Horn's stunning panorama as you descend through the historic Balat district. Experience the Spice Bazaar's mind-blowing variety of aromas and colors as you stroll through its labyrinthine alleys. Down at the water’s edge, a spacious private boat waits to take you on a scenic cruise.
Sit back and take in splendid views of the Topkapi Palace, the Galata Tower, Rumeli Fortress, and other iconic landmarks as you sail between two continents. Bridges connect Europe and Asia, making the city a meeting point of East and West. Conclude your cruise and take a leisurely break over a delicious Turkish meal.
Once the seat of powerful Ottoman rulers, the lavish Dolmabahçe Palace is the epitome of luxury and extravagance. Grand marble staircases and glittering crystal chandeliers come together in a dazzling mix of styles that you discover with an expert guide. Feel the energy and sense the vastness of Istanbul by finishing your adventure on top of Yeditepe or Camlica Hill. Read More close
Your afternoon tour begins with a relaxing cruise along the Bosphorus, a strait between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea that separates Europe from Asia. Sit back, relax, and feel the Turkish breeze against your skin as you witness a wide range of historical architecture.
Admire the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Rumeli Fortress, and the Beylerbeyi Palace, one of the largest homes to Ottoman sultans. You also pass by typical Turkish districts, including Yeniköy, home to some of Istanbul’s finest wooden houses, Ortaköy, known for handicrafts and nightlife, and Besiktas, the commercial hub of the new city.
Complete your experience with a visit to Istanbul's Spice Bazaar. Roam the aisles and discover an incredible variety of rare spices, herbs, vegetables, fruits, live animals, and flowers.
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Istanbul is a magical meeting point of East and West. It is here where 2 continents, Europe and Asia, are separated by the historic waters of the Bosphorus. The sun sets over world-famous landmarks, minarets, and old villas along the strait, offering an opportunity to sit back, lounge on cushions, admire the splendid view, and sip a drink from the open bar onboard your spacious boat.
Feast on Turkish and international dishes, including 10 types of different mezes, seasonal salad, fish or chicken platter, and assorted fruits. Witness a passionate belly-dance show and enjoy a colorful performance by musicians and artists. As you are finishing your meal and watching a passionate belly dance, you glide by the Dolmabahçe Palace, once a powerful center of the Ottoman Empire, and under the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. Wind down your evening where 2 worlds connect. Read More close
Begin your day with convenient hotel pickup and continue to the port where you take the ferry to Yalova before continuing to Bursa by minivan. Once in Bursa, explore the ancient capital as your guide tells you about the Ottoman era and the beginnings of Turkish culture.
Visit the famous Yeşil Mosque, famous for its green and turquoise ceramic tiles. Explore its interior and admire the perfect blend of architecture and embellishment as you hear about its construction, dating back to 1419 AD. Continue to the notorious Yeşil Türbe (Green Tomb), a mausoleum of the fifth Ottoman sultan, Mehmed I.
Pause for lunch for an authentic Turkish kebab at the famous Kebab of Alexander the Great. Then it's time to take the cable car and climb as Mount Olympus. Here, just unwind and take in the view. End with a visit to the Bursa Bazaar, where you encounter the city's thriving silk trade. Stroll from stall to stall, admire the locally made garments, and bargain for goods before returning to Istanbul. Read More close
Your morning starts with a trip toward the Bosphorus Bridge, an architectural masterpiece that connects 2 continents. Travel 197 feet (60 m) above water, cross the contemporary steel structure, and admire an expansive view of both sides of the city.
Ascend to one of the highest points in Istanbul, Camlica Hill, and absorb a panorama of the city—a great photo opportunity. This idyllic spot is scattered with small cafés and tea-houses and surrounded by pine trees and well-maintained lawns, making it a favorite leisure spot for locals and tourists.
Lying under the legs of the Bosphorus Bridge is the Beylerbeyi Palace, the elegantly-furnished 19th-century summer residence of the Ottoman sultans. From Bohemian crystal chandeliers and Hereke-type carpets to Arabic-inscribed ceilings and stately rooms, explore the Ottoman house plan, where nearly everything is symmetrical.
For a sample of modern Istanbul, visit Bagdat Street. Lined with sidewalk cafés, swaying trees, and chic boutiques and shops, this is the place to be for the fashionable, local Sunday-brunch crowd.
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Land in Kayseri and enjoy a picturesque drive all the way to Cappadocia as your guide gives you background about the places you pass. Your first visit is to the impressive Rose Valley; meander through the greenery and the red rock formations, soon understanding why the valley is so named. Admire its unique rock pillars and perhaps pose for a photo.
Next, head toward Göreme and visit the small, yet traditional, village of Çavuşin. Feel like you've gone back in time seeing the fantastic church of St. John the Baptist on the top of the hill. Continue to Ortahisar Castle and marvel at the surrounding stone houses, narrow streets, and beautiful churches. See castle-like rock formations all around you as your guide explains just how the town was named.
Follow your guide to an extraordinary site, an area honeycombed with caves and tunnels, camouflaged by nature. Pause for a mouthwatering lunch and then continue to the Kaymakli Underground City. Venture inside and explore its many compartments. End at Pigeon Valley for a chance to walk in between the striking rock formations and cave villages.
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Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
13 hours 30 minutes
With its strategic location between East and West, Istanbul has been a part of the region's history for more than 2,500 years, as the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans left their legacies in this eclectic metropolis. Join a small group of travelers on an insightful tour and listen to anecdotes and intriguing stories from a local guide.
A visit to the breathtaking Hagia Sophia gives you a look at the enormous domes, light-infused interior, and precious Byzantine mosaics of this architectural wonder of the world. Step into the underground world of the ancient Basilica Cistern, with more than 300 columns that date back to the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian during the 6th century. Admire the vibrant atmosphere in the Grand Bazaar, a colorful maze of 61 covered streets lined with more than 3,000 shops.
Later in the evening, enjoy a hassle-free ride to a renowned venue famed for its authentic local cuisine and lively stage performances. Marvel at the skills of belly dancers, costumed singers, and musicians who bring Turkish folklore to life as you feast on a delicious dinner in the vibrant Istanbul night. Read More close
Join a small group of travelers and a professional guide to discover the marvelous sights of the city. Wander through the halls and courtyards of a UNESCO World Heritage Site at Topkapi Palace, a former residence of Ottoman sultans perched atop the entrance of the Bosporus. Marvel at the elegant interior of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque due to its exquisite blue tiles, before visiting the incredible Hagia Sophia, one of the most photographed attractions in the world.
Feast on a delicious lunch before you descend into the mysterious subterranean world of the Basilica Cistern, home to more than 300 ancient marble columns. Get a feel for the vibrant atmosphere in the whirl of the Grand Bazaar, a colorful maze of 61 covered streets lined with more than 3,000 shops.
Complete your day at a venue renowned for its authentic Turkish cuisine and lively stage performances. Enjoy your dinner and admire a show of belly-dancing and local folklore as costumed musicians, singers, and dancers entertain you in the inky Istanbul night. Read More close
Delve into the vivid bustle of the Spice Bazaar, an Ottoman-era covered market where delightful stalls and small shops offer an incredible variety of spices, herbs, nuts, dried fruits, and sweet treats. Watch the lively scene unfolding in front of your eyes as merchants ply their trades under the vaulted roofs.
Next, hop on a comfortable boat for a cruise along the Bosporus, the iconic waterway that separates Europe from Asia. Glide by grand palaces, elegant residential districts, and verdant hills during a relaxing cruise that offers unrivaled views of Istanbul's majestic skyline.
Enjoy an evening out at a renowned venue famed for its authentic Turkish cuisine and vivacious stage performances. Belly dancers, costumed musicians, and singers entertain you as you feast on a delicious dinner in a friendly environment. Read More close
Also known as Adalar, the Princes’ Islands were once a solitary place for monks and a place of exile during the Byzantine era; they are now a popular destination for locals and tourists. Bicycles and horse-drawn carriages replace motorized vehicles on these oases of peace and quiet. There are a total of 9 islands making up the Adalar, but only 4 are open to the public.
Embark on your cruise along the deep blue waters of the Marmara Sea. As you head for the main island of Büyük Ada, stop at the smaller inhabited islands along the way to see their unique characteristics. Upon arrival at Büyük Ada, the largest and most famous among the Princes’ Islands, hop on a phaeton, a horse-drawn carriage, take a tour, and enjoy the slower pace of life here.
Afterward, enjoy lunch at a local seafood restaurant, which offers outstanding views of Istanbul’s shores, before enjoying some free leisure time to explore the island.
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Kick start your day at Taksim Square, in Beyoğlu—the heart of the city's art, cuisine, and entertainment scene. Follow your guide through the winding streets and feel the buzz of the local life. Pass by vendors selling Islak (wet) burgers—one of the district's most famous street foods—and have the chance to sample this distinctive dish (at your own cost).
From there, experience the vibrancy of İstiklal Avenue, home to an abundance of boutiques, shops, and entertainment hubs. It's also a great place for you to capture snaps of neo-classical buildings and architecture from the late Ottoman era.
Then walk through Çiçek Pasajı (Flower Passage)—a labyrinth of cafés and eateries serving traditional Turkish food and drink, including the renowned kebab wraps and raki. Visit the Galata Tower, one of Istanbul's most striking monuments. Its 9 stories dominate the city's skyline, providing fantastic photo opportunities. As you snap some postcard-worthy images, your local guide details the tower's history, explaining how Ottomans used it for spotting fires.
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Meet your guide at the famous Güllüoğlu Baklava shop in Karaköy and walk the neighborhood as you hear about the history of this place, one of the oldest districts of Istanbul. Karaköy is also famous for its authentic eateries. Sit down for a traditional breakfast at Özsüt before boarding the ferry to Kadıköy.
Explore the lively cosmopolitan district of Kadıköy as your guide explains its background as an ancient and Byzantine Chalcedon. This is where the Ecumenical Council met in the 5th century A. D. to bring the ecclesiastical chaos to an end.
Continue to the fish market and meander through the different stalls, encountering many new tastes of a different kind of Turkish cuisine. Pause for a stop at a local delicatessen and try Kadıköy’s pudding or a famous baklava.
It’s then time to indulge in an authentic Turkish main course at the famous Çiya Restaurant. Top it off with a coffee at the Turkish Coffee House before heading to Karaköy by ferry where your tour comes to an end. Read More close
The next stop will be at the Egyptian Bazaar which is the second largest market in Istanbul. This bazaar is near Eminonu and its doors are bursting with oriental sweets and an enormous variety of herbs and spices imported from all over the world. The air in this exotic bazaar is filled with the oriental aromas of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, saffron and Turkish coffee. Come and enjoy a pleasant walk that features Turkish hospitality and eastern traditions that will add a special beauty to your holiday and create treasured memories.
Follow your guide to the Rustem Pasha Mosque (1550-1561) which is an elegant building designed by Mimar Sinan on the orders of Rustem Pasha. It was completed after his death by his wife Mihrimah. Sinan wanted the construction to reflect its creator’s character and did so with features including many windows, lots of light, marble columns and Iznik tiles. The mosque survived the difficulties of the ensuing centuries and has become a symbol of loyalty to Istanbul just as the Grand Vizier Rustem Pasha once loyally served his sultan. Admire the great time with Istanbul and then back by coach to your accommodation. Read More close
Spreading out over of 11. 2 acres (45,000 sqm), containing 285 rooms and 46 halls, Dolmabahçe is the largest palace in Turkey. The exorbitance of this former residence of Ottomon sultans doesn't stop at the exterior. Its largest chandelier has 750 lamps and weighs 4. 5 tons. Stroll through luxurious interiors, extensively decorated with gold, crystal, and marble. Follow an expert guide who shares background stories about life in the royal court during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Your tour visits 2 continents as you cross the Bosphorus Bridge (one of the longest spans in the world) to Asia. Standing atop Camlica Hill, with panoramic views over Istanbul, you come to see the vast expanse of the city. It's a perfect opportunity to take some holiday snaps. Read More close
After being whisked away from your Istanbul hotel, you take a morning flight south to Turkey's Mediterranean coast. Once the bustling capital of Roman Asia Minor, Ephesus was truly one of the major attractions of the region—a wealthy and important city in the mighty empire and the home of the famed Temple of Artemis, one of the wonders of the ancient world.
As you marvel at the well-preserved ruins, listen to insightful stories about people's lives during long-gone centuries. Even though less than a quarter of the site has been excavated, it is considered the most complete example of a classical Greek metropolis.
During the day, enjoy a delicious lunch in a local restaurant renowned for its authentic Turkish cuisine. Your tour also visits such major sights as House of the Virgin Mary, where Catholic belief holds that the mother of Jesus spent her last days, and the ruins of the 6th-century Basilica of St. John, built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I.
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The hill where Galata is today was covered with orchards In the Byzantine period and was named Sykai (The Fig Orchard) or Peran en Sykais (The Fig Field on the Other Side), referring to the "other side" of the Golden Horn. It was in the Byzantine period that the area began to be called Galata and a fortress was built by Emperor Theodosius II.
Explore Galata, a Genoese colony from the 6th to 15th centuries. This walk is around the famous Galata Tower, 219 feet (66. 9 m) tall. With 9 stories the tower was the city's tallest structure when it was built. As you stroll around the area, see many churches, synagogues, hospitals, bank buildings, ancient walls, and schools. Along the way, listen to tales and legends from your expert local guide. Read More close
Journey out of Istanbul to Turkey’s northwest corner where you find the Gallipoli Peninsula, which juts into the deep-blue Aegean Sea. Your expert guide explains the doomed campaign of Allied forces in 1915; hear how predominantly ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand) troops were deployed to force the Turkish army back. See the landing site of ANZAC Cove and battle setting of The Nek as you chronicle the events in those fateful months.
At cenotaphs built to commemorate those who lost their lives, remember some of the 100,000 who bravely fought here. With Lone Pine for Australians and Chunuk Bair for New Zealanders, citizens of Allied nations can come to see the emotive monuments, now etched onto the striking landscape. Over a traditional Ottoman lunch, you can sit back, relax, and take a moment to appreciate the tranquil environment that can now enjoy peace. Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
Your morning starts with a visit to the remaining columns and obelisks of the Hippodrome—once the center for sports, theatre, and politics in the former Roman capital of Constantinople. See where slaves once rode chariots in ferocious races and the place where orators shared brave words for the assembled crowd.
Your tour continues to the beautiful Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque for its founder. Witness the tomb of the great ruler, and admire the delicate designs and floral patterns of the Ottoman tiles that decorate the walls of the shrine.
Feast your eyes on the majestic 6th-century Byzantine basilica, Hagia Sophia. It was once a church, then a mosque, and now a museum. View the architectural innovation of this domed structure as well as the paneled interior with colored marbles and ornamental stone inlays.
Complete your tour with an exhilarating shopping experience at the bustling Grand Bazaar. From the trading of diamonds and carpets, to food and perfumes—you are sure to find an excellent bargain. Read More close
Your tour starts with a brief stop at the Hippodrome, once the sporting and social center of the Roman capital of Constantinople, and still home to a few remaining obelisks. You then continue to the Byzantine basilica, Hagia Sophia, where you’re sure to be dazzled by the 30 million gold tesserae (tiny mosaic tiles) and the great Calligraphic Panes that line the interior.
Put your haggling skills to test and find a bargain at the Grand Bazaar, or simply observe the trade of diamonds, perfume, food, and rugs, before moving on to the Sultan Ahmet-inspired masterpiece—The Blue Mosque. Admire the finely decorated Ottoman tiles and stained-glass windows on your way to the solemn Tomb of Sultan Ahmet.
After lunch, meander through the regal rooms of the Topkapi Palace, the residence of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries. See the imperial treasury and its collection of Chinese porcelain, costumes, and weaponry. Your tour is complete with a visit to the 16th-century Rustem Pasha Mosque, home to many of the finest Ottoman tile-works. The colorful, handmade Iznik tiles that cover the walls provide a fitting end to your day. Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
Begin your experience with a convenient pickup from your central Istanbul hotel and board your helicopter for a 15-minute flight. Look down across the Asian side of the city for a look at the Khedive, Küçüksu, and Beylerbeyi palaces, the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges, and the Maiden's Tower on a small islet in the Bosporus.
After passing over the Golden Horn and the city's European side, where you can see the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Dolmabahçe and Topkapı palaces, Galata Tower, and the fortress of Rumelihisarı, land and be transferred to the pier for your cruise. Spend about 75 minutes on the Bosporus, passing old Ottoman residences, palaces, and kiosks as well as landmarks of the modern city.
You will have the chance to take plenty of spectacular photos to complement your memories of the tour by the time you are dropped off back at your hotel. Read More close
Head to the Hippodrome of Constantinople, once a social and sporting center. As you stroll along the path, learn about Istanbul’s rich Byzantine history and admire the limestone Column of Constantine, more than 98 feet (30 m) tall. Spot an Egyptian obelisk made of pink granite and the 16-foot (5-m) bronze Serpentine Column from Delphi.
Next, stop at the Hagia Sophia, a former church and mosque. Now a museum, it is a reminder of the fall of Constantinople as well as a painful 1,000-year history. Over the centuries emperors were crowned, holy relics from all over the world inspired awe, and priceless icons were ruined here.
As you walk across the worn flagstones of this magnificent building, feel its hundreds of years of history. The 4 minarets built during Ottoman rule serve as a reminder of the time when the Turks conquered Constantinople and created a new city. To this day, the Hagia Sophia remains at the heart of the Orthodox world.
Continue your walk to the Basilica Cistern, an underground reservoir completed in 532 to channel water from the Valencia aqueduct and restored in the 19th century. Admiring its columns, soak up the atmosphere while learning about the cistern’s history before drop-off at your hotel. Read More close
A convenient hotel pickup takes you to your helicopter, waiting near the modern business districts of the city's European side. Get a look at the skyscrapers in Maslak and Levent as you take to the air and fly out on your way to the Bosporus.
On the Anatolian side of the strait separating Europe and Asia, beyond the long Bosporus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges, you can see the Ottoman fortress of Anadoluhisarı, the Khedive, Küçüksu, and Beylerbeyi palaces, as well as the Maiden's Tower on its islet in the Bosporus.
As you fly over the Historical Peninsula, you can see some of Istanbul's greatest monuments. Admire the view of Suleymaniye and Sultan Ahmed mosques, Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, and Topkapi Palace. Pass over the Golden Horn to see the Church of the Pantocrator, Valens Aqueduct, and the Walls of Constantinople.
Following a flight past Galata Tower, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Bebek Cove, and the fortress of Rumelihisari, your tour brings you back to land with a new appreciation for the city. Read More close
The red route—the City Tour—includes marvels of the city center on both the Asian and European sides. Hop off as you wish to see the Egyptian Bazaar, Dolmabahce Palace, and Beylerbeyi Palace—an Imperial Ottoman summer residence. Cross the famous Bosphorus Bridge that connects Europe and Asia and enjoy panoramic views of the Bosphorus inlet.
Along the blue route—the Golden Horn Tour—explore renowned attractions in the city center, the old town, and the quaint outskirts of Istanbul. Hop off at famous sites including Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the old great wall of Constantinople.
Red Route includes:
-\tW Hotel (Akaretler)
-\tHard Rock Café
-\tEgyptian Spice Bazaa
Blue Route includes:
-\tRahmi Koç Museum
-\tEgyptian Spice Bazaar
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With a strategic location on the Silk Road and as a gateway to the East, Istanbul has been fought over for centuries. Learn from your guide how it has been the capital of 4 significant empires—the Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman empires. Delve into the city's history at Hagia Sophia, an impressive museum and once one of the largest basilicas in the world, and admire fantastic Byzantine mosaics.
Descend to the largest of hundreds of ancient cisterns beneath the city—Basilica Cistern—as your guide explains the tank's role in filtering water for the great Palace of Constantinople. At one of the largest markets in the world—the Grand Bazaar—savor exotic sights, smells, and sounds of thousands of traders vying for business. Then practice haggling as you pick a souvenir from a bewildering array of local artisan goods. Read More close
After a convenient pickup at your hotel, a transfer takes you to Aqua Florya Shopping Mall near the aquarium's site. Visitors can follow a route that hosts 16 themed sections and a rainforest for a travel route that features environments beginning with the Black Sea and moving towards the Pacific.
With a leading position among worldwide aquariums thanks to its volume and the variety of fish species and activities, the venue offers some of the most pioneering and distinctive features in its field. With 64 tanks providing nearly 1. 8 million gallons (6. 8 million L) of water, you can find more than 15,000 land and sea creatures representing 1,500 different species, including sharks, giant stingrays, groupers, piranhas, and octopi.
You can also visit the aquarium's 5-D, 6-axle movie theater, which lets you experience wind, fog, water, and touch effects as you explore fully realized 3-dimensional environments. You can also visit the shopping center—a destination in its own right, especially for families. Enjoy some free time before the drive back to your hotel. Read More close
Begin your day with convenient hotel pickup and head to Florya Istanbul Aquarium. Once there, follow a route through its 16 themed areas and be amazed at the over 1,500 different species of land and sea creatures that surround you. Even see the largest predator of the ocean, the shark, and compare a variety of fish species.
Continue to the rainforest, where you forget that you're in Istanbul, immersed by this area's creatures and landscapes that go from the Black Sea toward the Pacific. You can also enjoy the game zones. In Rainforest Adventure, you can practice your physical and mental stamina while performing mysterious tasks like finding medicine in the forest and crossing perilous waters. In Escape From the Amazon Labyrinth, escape from the rainforest in the largest interactive mirror labyrinth in Europe.
You also have an opportunity to watch up to 7 5-D movies with extraordinary features like wind, fog, and water. There's plenty to keep you entertained: 3 cafeterias, a restaurant, and a fantastic gift shop.
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Drive toward the UNESCO-listed Topkapı Palace and pay it a visit. The palace used to be the primary residence of Ottoman sultans for 400 years. Continue to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque thanks to its blue İznik ceramic tiles. Follow your guide to see its 6 famous minarets, the main dome, as well as the Byzantine Christian elements.
Carry on to Hagia Sophia, an impressive basilica from the 5th century, and see its interior with its stunning Shrine of Holy Wisdom of God and large Byzantine dome. Break for lunch at an authentic Turkish restaurant to indulge in a local dish before continuing to the Basilica Cistern.
Your guide tells you about the history of the Basilica Cistern, how it is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns in Istanbul. Wander through this exquisite site and admire some of its 336 Ionic and Corinthian marble columns that hold the ceiling. See the famous Hen's Eye engraved in one of them, as well as the head of a Medusa.
Then drive through the city, passing by the Hippodrome and Obelisk before ending your tour at the Grand Bazaar, where you can bargain for goods or simply stroll through the various shops.
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During daylight, İstiklal is known as home to many historical buildings, fancy hotels, theatres, restaurants, and shops. Meet your guide at Taksim Square in the heart of Istanbul. Stroll on exciting little side streets near Istiklal Street, sit in one of the intriguing coffee shops, and talk with your guide. Admire embassy buildings and visit Armenian and Roman churches, ancient districts, and impressive walkways.
In the Byzantine period, the hillside—where Galata is today—was covered with orchards and was named Sykai (The Fig Orchard) or Peran en Sykais (The Fig Field on the Other Side), referring to the "other side" of the Golden Horn. It was in the Byzantine period that the area began to be called Galata and a fortress was built by Emperor Theodosius II. Galata was a Genoese colony from the 6th to 15th centuries.
This walk is around the famous Galata Tower and covers the area where you see many churches, synagogues, hospitals, bank buildings, ancient walls, and schools. Stories, myths, and legends are a bonus from your guide. Read More close
Istanbul has had a vibrant Jewish community for more than 1,000 years. After the Turkish conquest of Istanbul, Sultan Mehmet II encouraged immigration to repopulate the city. More than half a million Jews persecuted in Spain and Portugal were encouraged to establish themselves in the Ottoman Empire.
The new immigrants settled mostly near Galata—a quarter on the northern bank of the Golden Horn—where a Jewish community existed since the early days of the Ottoman Era. In Galata walk along intriguing and colorful streets full of life. Synagogues, the Jewish Museum, Jewish Apartments, the amazing story of Abraham Camondo, and other Jewish heritage sites are part of this tour.
This tour may not be possible during Jewish and Muslim religious holidays. The walking tour visits the Jewish Museum, Ashkenazi Synagogue, Schneidertemple Synagogue, and includes outer visits to Georgian Synagogue, Neve Shalom Synagogue, Italian Synagogue, Jewish Apartments, and Camondo Buildings.
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Start with convenient pickup from your hotel, meet your guide, and head to your first stop, Topkapi Palace, where 25 sultans lived. As you explore the palace, get a sense of the history of the whole Ottoman empire and peek behind the veil of secrecy on the mysterious East. While you continue walking through the heart of historical part of Istanbul, snap some great photos of the Old City.
Next, visit the impressive Blue Mosque, covering 2,690 square feet (250 sq m) and featuring 260 stained-glass windows, 8 gates, and 30 domes. Admire the interior with 20,000 iznik ceramic tiles showing 50 different images of tulips and a mihrab carved from a single piece of marble. Discover how this structure took 7 years to build and as you walk through the oldest part of the city, learn about the legends of Istanbul from your guide before drop-off at your hotel. Read More close
Resembling a stag's horns and glowing from the sun's reflection, Istanbul’s Golden Horn is a scenic and historic estuary, one of world's most-prized natural harbors. Surrounded by parks, promenades, and ancient sites, including the Walls of Constantinople, Eyüp joins Mecca and Jerusalem as one of the most sacred sites in the world.
While in the neighborhood, visit the grand Eyüp Sultan Mosque, and gaze at its mausoleum walls, which are covered with colorful tiles from different periods, and discover the Tomb of Eyüp, a popular pilgrimage destination and the gravesite of Abu Ayyub, the Prophet Muhammad's close companion.
Continue on to take a cable-car ride to Pierre Loti Hill and enjoy panoramic views of the Golden Horn and its surrounding areas. Take time to enjoy Turkish coffee at a famous café named for the French writer Pierre Loti, who frequented this location. Read More close
After pickup from your central Istanbul hotel, cruise along the Bosporus and see how the city and the Ottoman world slowly changed. By the 18th century, the old center and the palace began to extend beyond the city boundaries as the sultan and his entourage built mansions facing the water with beautiful views of the Bosporus—a style that quickly drew European diplomats to waterfront embassies.
Next, visit the historical Eminönü district, home to well-known landmarks including the Süleymaniye Mosque, an Ottoman imperial mosque, as well as the Grand Bazaar and the Topkapı Palace, a museum and former royal palace. In a group of 16 people, admire the neighborhood’s renowned sights and listen to your guide’s intriguing stories about the city before a ride back to your hotel. Read More close
After convenient hotel pickup, begin your journey through the Ottoman past. Listen as your knowledgeable guide narrates the history of the city during the rise of the empire (1299–1453), as well as the legends behind its brave sultans.
Your first stop is the magnificent Sultan Ahmet Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque. Admire the 6 impressive minarets extending toward the sky and the 260 windows adorning the main building. As you step inside, marvel at the wonderful main chamber, which is decorated with more than 20,000 Iznik tiles.
Next up is the Topkapi Palace, the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans during their reign of more than 600 years. Admire the exotic buildings overlooking the Golden Horn before exploring its superb interior. Here, you can find holy relics from the Muslim world, including Muhammad's cloak and sword.
As you move toward your final stop, admire the colorful and lively bazaars and get some insider tips from your guide so you can come back later to explore them on your own. Finish at the Hippodrome, once the heart of Constantinople's political and sporting life. Admire the 3,500-year-old Egyptian Obelisk, which was brought to the city in 390 AD by Emperor Theodosius. Read More close
Your tour starts with a visit to The Hippodrome, formerly the heart of Constantinople’s political and sporting life. See the obelisks and statues that still stand today, as your guide tells you stories that bring the past to life.
Visit one of the holiest Islamic sites of the city, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque. You can wander through the great sultan’s tomb, admiring the meticulously arranged tiles and calligraphy along the way. Then continue to The Hagia Sophia, where you can marvel at the domed construction and gaze at the sophisticated interior of this “Church of Divine Wisdom. ”
Your next stop, the Grand Bazaar, is one of the largest and busiest covered markets in the world. Have a go at haggling with the local tradesmen, and grab yourself a bargain, before retiring to a local restaurant for lunch.
The opulent Topkapi Palace, once the imperial residence of the Ottoman sultans, is positioned on the edge of the Golden Horn, at the entrance to the Bosphorus. Halls of holy relics, costumes, and imperial weaponry await your discovery. End your journey with a visit to the Rustem Pasha Mosque to view the handmade Iznik tiles that adorn the interior and exterior walls. Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
Your day starts at Istanbul’s Hippodrome—once the center for sports, entertainment, and politics in Constantinople. Relive the days when the passionate words of intellectuals and poets lit the flames of revolts and political movements. As you observe the obelisks and statues that still remain, listen to your guide explain the history of the Byzantine and Ottoman era.
Continue your private tour at the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles that embellish the interior walls. Admire the delicate designs of the Ottoman tiles, combined with some Byzantine elements, which decorate the walls of the shrine.
Your jaw may drop as you stand in front of the The Hagia Sophia, an architectural wonder and important monument for both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Once a church, the building was converted into a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of the city, and now the basilica is a museum.
As you venture through the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered bazaars in the world, witness the centuries-old trading of diamonds, carpets, food, perfumes, and gossip. Get involved, grab a bargain, and try some friendly haggling yourself before the tour draws to a close.
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With a half-hour to explore from the air, get some advice from your pilot on the best sights to visit. From your starting point, you can fly past the towering skyscrapers in Maslak and Levent, Istanbul's modern business districts, and make your way toward the city's historic core.
Beyond the Bosporus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges, and the small islet that houses the Maiden's Tower, you can get a look at the city's Anatolian side, where the continent of Asia begins. Admire the Ottoman-era fortress of Anadoluhisari, the Khedive's Summer Palace, Kucuksu Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, the Selimiye Barracks, and the port of Haydarpasa.
As you pass over the Historical Peninsula, get a view of some of the city's most famous structures, from the domes of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque to the spire of Beyazit Tower, Süleymaniye Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, and Topkapi Palace.
Near the Golden Horn, you can see more relics from the city's Byzantine days, such as Valens Aqueduct, the Church of St. George, the Bulgarian St. Stephen Church, and the old city walls, as well as the Fatih Mosque, Rahmi Koc Museum, Eyüp Sultan Mosque, and the Miniatürk miniature park.
The European side of the Bosporus, fly past the Galata Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace, Taksim Square, Ciragan Palace, and Ortakoy Square. Read More close
Begin in Galata—an ancient residential quarter in the center of the city. Long popular with Jewish communities, see the commanding tower dominating the skyline and hear how it has become a symbol for the city as a whole. At Ashkenaz Synagogue, learn more about the inner workings of this place of worship and ceremony, and its role as a civic hub.
In the Beyoglu district visit a former synagogue, now a museum. Here, learn more about the Turkish Jewry culture and its relationship with Istanbul, especially intriguing is the harmony accorded between them and the local Muslim population.
Perhaps the most illustrious stop on the tour is Balat where you observe the Star of David still displayed on many buildings. The Ahrida Synagogue is one of the city’s oldest and where the famous Rabbi—Sabbatai Zevi—once came to pray. A final stop at the Etz Ahayim Synagogue in a multi-cultural district serves as an idyllic reminder to the peaceful coexistence in the city of members of multiple faiths and religions. Read More close
Follow your guide to the Blue Mosque, one of Istanbul's most recognized landmarks, with 6 graceful minarets and an interior featuring more than 20,000 blue Iznik tiles. Next, head to Hagia Sophia, a magnificent example of Byzantine architecture boasting a massive dome, a lengthy nave, and an interior decorated with marble, precious stones, and pillars from Ephesus.
Visit the Grand Bazaar, a popular place with 2 bedestens and 13 hans. Today, shops selling similar merchandise tend to be on their own street or in hans, as was originally the Ottoman system. Upgrade your tour and see the 6th-century Underground Cistern, featuring a roof supported by 336 Corinthian columns. Your guide leads you through the illuminated interior of this famed "Underground Palace. " Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
4 hours 30 minutes
Your tour of Istanbul starts with a stop at the Egyptian Spice Market, where you may purchase exotic herbs, caviar, or any short of exquisite spice. Then, crossing the Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn, you end up visiting the incredible 19th-century. Dolmabahce Palace and the "Selamlik. " Continuing to the Bosphorus, cross over to Asia and Camlica Hill for a view of Istanbul.
After lunch, visit the well-organized Sadberk Hanim Museum, with more than 18,000 pieces in interesting ethnographical sections. As you feel the afternoon breeze on the Bosphorus ferry, you pass from continent to continent and view the Rumeli Fortress, old Ottoman seaside mansions, marble palaces, and small fishing villages.
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Your tour starts with a 15-minute drive on a modern coach to the historical peninsula. In Istanbul, marvel at Topkapi Palace, the former Sultans’ palace hugging the Bosporus, with an extraordinary collection of Chinese porcelain, art, artifacts, jewels and the Topkapi Diamond. Get a sense of the sultan's lifestyle at the Harem, the home and primary quarters of the sultan.
Moving on, see a touch of the Roman period at the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Rivaling the Colosseum, this extraordinary construction had the capacity of fitting a quarter of a million spectators. The Serpent Column from Delphi and an Egyptian obelisk taken from the Temple of Karnak in Luxor are also found on the site.
From the times of the Byzantines and Constantinople, Hagia Sophia follows next. The pillars from Ephesus, the imposing dome, elaborate interior decoration, and the nobility the site conveys all carve a spot in your memory. At your last stop, see the equally impressive Blue Mosque, adorned with 6 graceful minarets, Ottoman masonry, and an interior decorated with 20,000 blue Iznik tiles.
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Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
Step through the sumptuous entrance and begin your exploration of the opulent Topkapi Palace, the home to Ottoman sultans for more than 400 years. See palace kitchens that once prepared 6,000 meals a day, and visit the jewel-filled Imperial Treasury with its fabled collection of miniatures and relics, including the forearm of St. John the Baptist.
Walk through the Imperial Hall as your guide shares stories about the fascinating and colorful daily life of the palace's long-ago residents. Hear how unhappy Sultans punished their viziers by having them strangled by eunuch guards, and enter the heart of the palace—the Harem—to uncover the complicated politics of the Sultan’s private life. Along with the official imperial family, including the sultan's mother and 4 wives, this area also housed as many as 300 concubines.
Admire the palace's mosaicked fountains, quiet gardens, gilded décor, and ornate murals as you listen to commentary from your guide, an expert in history, art, and architecture with captivating storytelling abilities. Read More close
From the Danube and the Balkans to the Arabic Peninsula and northern shores of Africa, different cultures and tastes blended with Turkish heritage and built an inspiring cuisine. Start with a nice walk through one of the historic and traditional bazaars of Istanbul and learn how to prepare real Turkish food at a boutique cooking school with a friendly workshop atmosphere in smaller groups.
In this chef-led class, cook your way through authentic Ottoman recipes once prepared for mighty sultans. Trace the roots of Turkish cuisine and learn about Turkish history, social life, and traditions. After cooking a 5-course lunch including classics of Ottoman cuisine and favorites of traditional Turkish homes, enjoy your freshly prepared meal with refreshing drinks and Turkish coffee. Read More close
Begin your tour with a stroll along the water's edge of Karaköy, formerly known as Galata. Pass by iconic landmarks, including the Russian Orthodox Church, Yeralti Camii, and Bankalar Caddesi, and delve into the area's rich history. Learn about the trade, corruption, and entertainment in this district, and study how they've led to the area's strong cultural diversity.
Continue along the Avenue of Banks and admire the neoclassical architecture of the Ottoman Bank and the Kamondo Stairs. With your expert guide, discuss how these landmarks contributed to the growth of the city. Then pass by the Cenevizli Ev and the Galata House, also known as the Old British Jail. This area is a primary meeting point for the port's seamen, sailors, prostitutes, and foreign tavern owners.
As the sun sets, walk to the Galata Tower, a medieval fortification surrounded by charming streets, modern shops, and restaurants. Unearth the stylish side of Karaköy as you saunter past the Art Nouveau Frej Apartment and toward Mesrutiyet Caddesi and Asmalimescit—streets renowned for deluxe hotels, taverns, and the famous Pera Palace. Read More close
Kick start your tour by boarding a local ferry from the main pier. Crossing the Bosphorus, a straight that divides the city into 2 continents, you arrive on its Asian side. Head over to the district of Üsküdar—one of the most populated areas on this side—and delve into Istanbulite customs. Follow your guide and walk through traditional parts of town, passing by local monuments and hidden spots, including a number of customary mosques.
Next, travel to the Bosphorus' edge, where you can take in fantastic vistas of the European side—a great photo opportunity. From your expert guide, learn how the city developed around the core of this strait and gain a better understanding of the city's historical and cultural setting.
Your final stop is at the charistmatic neighborhood of Kuzguncuk, a former fishing village. Meander through this area to find the grand homes of this diverse area; its citizens include many Jews, Greeks, and Armenians. Gain an insight into the multi-ethnic community that lives here and discover how the different cultures have combined to influence Kuzguncuk's unique architecture. Read More close
The rich tapestry of a 14-million-inhabitant metropolis plays out in cool fashion as people from all walks of life come to shop, eat, and entertain in an area once known as the “European Zone. ” Restaurants and traditional Turkish food halls stand next to ice cream parlors; designer boutiques, trendy bars, and nightclubs compete for trade. The scene may be ever-changing, but the tram rattling in the middle of the avenue has transported passengers for over a century.
With a scholar, walk a route among grand neoclassical buildings in the part of Istanbul that Europeans settled in the late 19th century. See the Republic Monument at enormous Taksim Square, and stop by a fish market to size up the day's catch. Feel the sheer energy of this modern, outward-looking, and welcoming city. Read More close
The rule of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was the Golden Age for the Ottoman Empire. He used his incredible power and wealth to support his chief architect’s efforts. In return, Mimar Sinan created some of the most striking buildings of the era. It's no wonder Sinan is known as the “Turkish Michelangelo. ”
From your scholar guide you gain an in-depth understanding of Islamic architecture, the politics of a once mighty empire, and the traditions that prevail.
The Sehzade Camii, the Sultan Suleiman Complex, and the mosque of a vizier all open their doors for you on this small-group tour. Visit areas of the city that are scarcely on the map for large-group tours. Enter functioning holy sites, walk in hidden gardens, admire a great sultan's tomb, see meticulously laid tiles, and witness intricate calligraphy along the way. Read More close
Built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian and revered worldwide since, the “Church of the Divine Wisdom,” as the magnificent construction is also known, is one of Istanbul's top attractions. To fully appreciate the basilica's historical context, start at the nearby Hippodrome—Roman arena remains—where your guide discusses the rise of Constantinople. Learn about the era's urban planning and how it laid foundations for the Byzantine Empire.
The interior of Hagia Sophia stands tall as glittering light breaks through an arcade of 40 arched windows—a mesmerizing sight. Ample time lets you hear from the tour-leading scholar about the unique design and exquisite mosaics considered to be among the world's finest art treasures. Learn how the Ottomans revived the importance of the temple when it was converted to a mosque in the 16th century without a structure change. Today it is a culturally significant museum and a must-see on travelers' lists. Read More close
Begin in the neighborhood of Topane, the core of the city's contemporary art scene. Gain an insight into how the area maintains its personality as an emblematic Turkish quarter. Learn about how this art sector thrives through young, Istanbulite students who adapt European styles by incorporating traditional Ottoman charm.
Continue your walk to Cukurcuma, renowned for its antique stores and original art galleries. Your guide teaches you about the growth of art schools and art exhibitions throughout the 20th century, especially in the Beyoglu district. As you weave in and out of galleries, you have the chance to meet local artists who talk to you about how the city's social life and customs have influenced today's art culture.
Your final stop is at Istiklal Street, an elegant street boasting an array of Ottoman-style buildings. See modern and traditional architecture, even in large establishments like banks, subway stations, and theaters. Read More close
Istanbul sits along the Bosphorus Strait, a strategic location that has benefited the city for centuries. Sit back and listen as your guide shares with you stories and legends, as well as insider tips on how and where to get the best deals. Then prepare to put your bargaining skills to the test as you visit the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar), which has become one of the most popular attractions in Istanbul. Here you can find more than 100 stalls offering everything from spices to Turkish delights.
Keep your eyes wide open and don't miss any chance to find an unforgettable souvenir—perhaps even a unique Turkish fabric made from the finest silk and famous for its softness. Your tour takes you to a family-owned workshop that produces beautiful handmade ceramics. Finally, visit the covered Grand Bazaar, where you can find everything from jewelry to top-quality carpets, spices, and even clothes.
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Meet your guide at the port and head to the city center. Start with a visit to Topkapi Palace, previously used to host the Ottoman sultans, now converted into a fascinating museum. Follow your guide through luxurious halls and magnificent gardens as you admire a unique collection of Chinese porcelain artifacts and precious jewels, with the famous Topkapi Diamond being the highlight.
Continue to the Imperial Harem before venturing toward the Roman Hippodrome. Hear how this venue was used in the past to hold up to 250,000 spectators. Pause at the Snake Column from Delphi and the Egyptian obelisk, coming from Luxor.
Then follow your guide to the Blue Mosque, discovering its most impressive corners. Don't miss a photo opportunity of the famous blue Iznik tiles. Move toward the Hagia Sophia and marvel at this grandiose building with an interior decorated with marble and pillars from Ephesus.
End at the Grand Bazaar, where you discover the culinary traditions of the country and learn how locals go about their day-to-day lives. Enjoy some traditional Turkish meze before returning to your ship. Read More close
This strait separating two continents has always been crucial to life in Istanbul. Once a prime channel to move fearsome armies through, it now serves more peaceful functions. Seeing this important trading route is a must-do for travelers.
On board a private boat, hear stories and anecdotes of this mesmerizing city. Sail by Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahce Palace. Admire the thick walls of the medieval Rumeli Fortress. See wooden Ottoman villas and chic neighborhoods along the banks.
Spice up your day with a morning tour at the Egyptian Bazaar, where a whirl of aromas and flavors play out in a maze of colorful covered alleys. Opt for the afternoon departure instead and gaze out over the Golden Horn from the top of Pierre Loti Hill, one the most photographed panoramic spots in town. Read More close
Few sites top the grandeur and artistry of Topkapi Palace, the seat of power in the Ottoman Empire for nearly 400 years and home to 4,000 people at its height. Follow a local tour guide chosen for their storytelling and English-language skills, and get a true sense of the history and culture embodied in the palace and its famous residents.
Since many tours don't include access to the harem, visitors can miss out on one of the most interesting parts of the palace. Visit the private quarters that housed the Ottoman sultans' wives, consorts, concubines, and children.
Your tour also visits newly opened areas to give you a rare look at the palace kitchens and foot-soldiers' barracks as well as the best general-access areas such as the Audience Chamber and the beautiful kiosks and gardens. Read More close
Meet your guide at the entrance of the remarkable Hagia Sophia and start your journey discovering the background of this majestic building. Your guide explains how this architectural wonder was built in the 5th century and transformed through time—initially a Greek Orthodox church, later an imperial mosque, and today a museum. Admire the "Shrine of Holy Wisdom of God," known for its large Byzantine dome, and hear about the construction plans to make it the world's largest worshipping place.
Continue to the city and meander through the Old Town as your guide tells you interesting anecdotes that illustrate Istanbul's culture as you admire Ottoman, Byzantine, and Roman architecture. It’s then time to venture into one of the world's largest souks—the Grand Bazaar. With nearly 4,000 shops, you can find antiques, carpets, souvenirs, and jewelry. Your tour ends here, so you can shop at your own pace. Read More close
Meet your guide bright and early at the Blue Mosque, where you can enter before the chaos of the daytime crowds. Enjoy a guided tour, hearing about the rituals that take place here and the fascinating history of Istanbul’s changing religions, which some have considered a symbol of a shift from West to East.
Your guide leads you across the ancient Roman Hippodrome to Hagia Sophia—Istanbul’s most in-demand site. The lines here often stretch for hours, but you can gain immediate access with your licensed guide. Explore the interior together with your small group, hearing the history of a structure that has housed not just 1 but 2 major world religions. Spot traces of its tumultuous past in the beautiful gold mosaics that hang on every wall.
The last stop of the morning is a little cooler. Venture underground at the Basilica Cistern to see its beautiful Medusa carvings and hear of its fascinating origins. Again, traveling with a guide has its benefits as you skip long lines here too. Read More close
Your tour meets in Europe and starts with a ferry trip along the Bosphorus. Over a warm cup of tea, your guide gives you some background on how the history of this gateway city has influenced its cuisine. Disembarking in Kadıköy, do as the locals do and make a beeline for a nearby food market. Here, you can learn what natives of Istanbul eat and what each spice is used for. Stay on the lookout for strange ingredients that you may not see at home.
Together with your expert guide—a passionate foodie—and your small group, explore the market and surrounding stalls and eateries. Visit a cheese stall to try raw buffalo and goat cheeses, sample a local version of pastrami, and indulge in Turkish kebabs. As you journey along, you have the chance to eat at not just one but two mezze stops, trying such delicacies as stuffed mussels and lentil balls, Istanbul’s famous stuffed savory filo pastry, and borek. Complete your food voyage with some sweets like trileche cake and baklava with a cup of traditional Turkish coffee.
With so many tastings, it is recommended that you arrive hungry and don’t make lunch plans—you’re going to want to try everything on this tour. Read More close
Meet your guide at the entrance of Hagia Sophia and hear about this magnificent building before you head out to explore Istanbul. Hear about the history and culture of the Turkish capital as you meander through its streets. Then move toward the largest palace in Istanbul, UNESCO-listed Topkapı Palace. Skip the line and enter the former residence of Ottoman sultans.
Follow your guide through different passages within the palace, which once held a mosque, hospital, bakery, and mint. Hear about the history behind these walls dating back to 1459 AD, when its construction first began. Peek through the windows to see beautiful views over the mighty Bosphorus.
Continue to Süleymaniye Mosque, a 16th-century masterpiece of Sinan and the largest mosque in the city. Admire the Islamic architecture and the stunning interior dome flanked with semi-domes. Your tour ends at the Sultanahmet Center, where you can continue to explore at your own pace.
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Built in the 19th century to give the Ottoman Empire a modern center of power to rival the capitals of Western Europe, Dolmabahçe Palace offers a vision of exquisite luxury. Explore the palace's Selamlık wing for a look at traditional Ottoman life.
At the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, you can find exhibits of contemporary artwork, prominently featuring the work of Turkish artists. Take a walking tour of the Balat neighborhood, Istanbul's traditional Jewish quarter, and pay a visit to the 16th-century Rüstem Pasha Mosque to see the intricate decorations on its famous Iznik tiles.
Your tour comes to an end after a visit to the Spice Market, leaving you free to explore the city on your own. Read More close
Your tour starts at the Grand Bazaar—one of the largest covered markets in the world. With 5,000 stalls lining 60 streets, the Grand Bazaar is a complete maze. Touring with an Istanbul native means you don't have to worry about getting lost or being hassled by vendors. Your guide teaches you about Turkey's different crafts and provides insider tips on how to spot good buys.
Led by handpicked, licensed guides with no external affiliations, your tour is completely pressure-free. At the Spice Bazaar, visit a small store where you can sample a few bites, discuss spices and teas, and have the chance to ask your guide questions.
Get your camera ready for a memorable, 1-hour guided Bosphorus cruise. Sit back and relax as you glide past the city’s iconic sights.
Disembark for a walking tour through the streets of Istanbul before climbing the hill to Galata Tower. The lines here can be crazy so instead of hanging around, your guide leads you to the rooftop terrace of a nearby café, where you get the same view without the wait. Read More close
Your tour starts at the Blue Mosque, where you enter at opening time to avoid the crowds. Explore the incredible interior before crossing the Hippodrome to Hagia Sophia. Traveling with a licensed guide has its perks as you take advantage skip-the-line access at Hagia Sophia, avoiding hours of waiting. The same applies at your next stop too, the eerie Basilica Cistern.
After working up an appetite at all these wonders, it’s time for lunch. Enjoy a traditional Turkish spread of meats, rice, pastries, and sides before tackling some of Istanbul’s famous bazaars. With your local guide to show you around, discover the buzz and hidden gems of the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar.
The next stop is a sure highlight of your day: a 1-hour Bosphorus cruise on a private boat with commentary from your guide, who points out sites in both Europe and Asia. Disembark in Europe for a stroll through the streets to see the Galata Tower.
Your tour concludes nearby, on a terrace overlooking the city, with the same views as Galata Tower—without the crazy lines. Forget big groups, and travel in a small group of only 15 people or fewer, with a maximum of just 2 groups on your private Bosphorus cruise, to get the most from your informative guide. Read More close
Your first stop is at a street vendor selling Islaks—wet burgers—one of district’s most famous street foods. Tickle your taste buds with the special sauce of this distinctive burger, before you explore the unmapped streets of Beyoğlu.
At the ornate Çiçek Pasajı (Flower Passage)—an arcade of shops, restaurants, and eateries, admire the architecture that was once a grand theater, and feel the buzz of the local nightlife. Next venture to the nearby Nevizade Sokak—home to an array of meyhanes (Turkish tavernas) serving good food and drink, at outdoor tables in a bright and active atmosphere. Stroll along to Dürümzade—a renowned eatery that specializes in kebab wraps. Sink your teeth into the delicious grilled dish that was made famous by chef Anthony Bourdain.
Coffee and fortune telling is a favorite pastime in Turkish culture. Sip on Turkish coffee and discover the tradition of fortune telling with the dregs of your cup at a local coffee shop at Hazzapulo Pasajı—and see if you can realize your destiny.
Back in Nevizade Sokak, your tour ends at a local eatery, where you can reflect upon your evening over a meze of authentic Turkish dishes and raki—an anise-flavored spirit. Read More close
Your tour starts with a pickup from your hotel and a scenic drive through the city. Stop at Çamlıca Hill, the highest point in Istanbul, to see the metropolis spread out below you. Next, cross the Bosporus Bridge, the first bridge to link the city's European and Asian sides.
Resting on the European coast of the Bosporus, Dolmabahçe Palace was created in the 19th century to provide a modern residence for the Ottoman sultans to match Europe's grandest capitals, and its cost nearly bankrupted the empire. Admire the intricate Baroque architecture, see the massive crystal chandelier gifted by Queen Victoria, and look out at panoramic views over the Bosporus.
After your journey through the last days of imperial glory, a ride takes you back to your hotel. Read More close
Discover why thousands of worshippers visit Eyüp Sultan Mosque every day, and wander through the different rooms as you hear about its Ottoman construction from 1458. The mosque was built next to the place where Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, a close companion of the prophet Muhammad, is said to have been buried. Visit the prophet's tomb, which has been built over Abu Ayyub's grave in his honor.
Continue to the Pierre Loti Coffee House via the Teleferique cable car and enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the Golden Horn freshwater estuary as you ascend 1,800 feet (550 m). Pause for a coffee and enjoy the wonderful views at the site where the French poet Pierre Loti sat to write.
Next, it’s time to explore Miniatürk, one of the world's largest miniature parks, covering a total area of 650,000 square feet (60,000 sm). Stroll through the park as you encounter 58 structures from Istanbul, 52 from Anatolia, and 12 from the Ottoman territories that today lie outside of Turkey. End your tour with some free time for souvenir hunting at the shopping center before returning to your hotel.
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Take a seat cross-legged on a cushion and admire the impressive spread in front of you. While savoring the classic home-cooked dishes, learn what life is like in modern day Turkey—from subjects the kids are learning in school to where to get the best quality fish. Even if your Turkish isn’t the best, your guide translates and makes conversing with the family easy.
After the delicious meal, say goodnight to your friendly hosts and take a leisurely stroll along the area's ancient backstreets. Stop at a popular hangout to take part in a few much-loved Turkish pastimes—competitive games included. Grab a seat and soak up the stunning vistas of the Marmara Sea, while your opponent contemplates their next backgammon move.
At the end of the night, sip on a steaming cup of aromatic tea or try something new and take a puff from a Narghile, a traditional Turkish water pipe. Read More close
Start you tour with a visit to the impressive Hagia Sophia, located in downtown Istanbul. This masterpiece of Byzantine architecture holds within its walls more than 1,500 years of Turkish history. This mind-blowing site has served as a church, a mosque, and nowadays as a museum. Head toward another architectural jewel, an iconic site located within walking distance, the Blue Mosque.
Next, visit the ancient Hippodrome and listen to your guide’s narration of this polemic site’s history before continuing toward a hidden local café where you can enjoy a traditional Turkish lunch among locals.
After lunch, visit the grand Topkapi Palace, an opulent complex overlooking the Bosphorus and home to the most powerful Ottoman sultans of the ancient world (for approximately 400 years of their 624-year reign).
Finally your tour moves to the bustling Grand Bazaar. Here you have the perfect opportunity to put to practice your bargaining skills, or people-watch as you sip on a real Turkish coffee. Read More close
Meet your guide and head for the ancient Hippodrome. After ample exploration, make your way to Sokullu Mehmet Pasa Mosque, where you can admire the stunning collection of İznik tiles and Ottoman style architecture. Next, continue to historic Divanyolu—a Roman highway designed by Emperor Constantine in 300 AD, before stopping at the Grand Bazaar, a buzzing marketplace boasting 4,000 shops, thought by many to be the world’s first shopping mall.
Visit Beyazit Mosque, where your guide teaches you about the importance of Islam in Turkish society. Then spend time at the grand Süleymaniye Mosque—the largest in the city—before taking a break for a cup of aromatic Turkish tea within a traditional tea house.
Complete your tour near the Spice Bazaar, garner some last-minute tips from your guide, and explore further at your leisure.
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Istanbul has had a vibrant Jewish community for more than 1,000 years, and immigration became a part of Ottoman policy after the city's conquest in the 15th century. As you visit the famous Camondo Steps and Jewish apartments of Galata, learn about the hundreds of thousands of Jewish residents who fled the Spanish Inquisition or were forced out of Portugal to find new homes in the city.
For another perspective on the city, head to the Bosporus for a 90-minute cruise. After taking a cable car to the Pierre Loti Hill and circling the Golden Horn by bus, board the boat for a trip between the shores of Europe and Asia. Get a view of the high suspension bridges that cross the strait, as well as Dolmabahçe Palace, the Maiden's Tower, the Rumelihisarı fortress, and beautiful mansions along the shores before you disembark near the Spice Bazaar for a transfer back to your hotel. Read More close
Your tour starts with a drive to Topkapı Palace. Home to Ottoman sultans from the 15th to 19th centuries, the palace still houses an exquisite collection of crystal, silver, and Chinese porcelain, as well as famous jewels from the imperial treasury and robes worn by the sultans and their families.
After a 4-course lunch at an authentic Turkish restaurant, continue to the Istanbul Archeology Museum for a look at artistic and archaeological treasures from the Topkapı collections. The museum's exhibits include ancient artifacts, classical statuary, and an exhibition depicting the city's history.
Next, pay a visit to the Chora Museum, originally a 4th-century church built outside the old city walls. Its mosaics and frescoes count among the most beautiful examples of the last period of Byzantine painting, dating to the 14th century. The tour's last last stop is at the Hagia Sophia, a former basilica and Ottoman mosque that was the largest of its kind in world for nearly a thousand years. Read More close
Begin with a short journey from Karakoy on the world's second oldest funicular. Follow your guide through back streets and hidden alleyways to the neighborhoods where locals feast. Bite into borek, a traditional flaky pastry filled with local cheeses, potato, or savory meats, accompanied by a cup of yogurty ayran.
Follow the tradition of Istanbulites and pause for some drinks and tasty food at a tavern where locals gather after a workday to catch up with friends. Nibble on appetizing meze served with a glass of raki, the most popular alcoholic beverage in Turkey, and listen as your guide explains the history and significance of each dish.
Continue to a local and historic tea house for a relaxing break, where you can work up your appetite before trekking to some food stands for your next bites: fried kofte meatballs and midye dolma, mussels stuffed with rice. Walk to the beautiful covered arcade of Cicek Passage and indulge in honey-drenched baklava, çikolata, or ice cream.
Stroll through bustling Taksim Square, where locals line up for the garlicky, sauce-soaked Islak Burger, then enjoy a Turkish coffee at the Urban Cafe while admiring the street art and nighttime vibe of the city.
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Greet your guide at the Spice Bazaar and head to Taksim—the heart of Istanbul. Walk alongside modern businessmen and young artists alike as you make your way to Beyoglu, a bustling area teeming with galleries, restaurants, and night clubs.
Then join the steady flow of pedestrians on the Istiklal Caddesito, and marvel at the 1800s European architecture flanking this grand boulevard. Duck into a café, order a cup of coffee, and uncover your fate as well. Local fortune tellers well-versed in the practice of reading coffee grounds sift through the muddled remains of your Turkish brew to catch a glimpse of your destiny.
But you won’t need a fortune teller to know what the rest of your tour has in store for you. A shopping trip for local seafood at the famous Balik Bazaar, a ride on the historic Tunel funicular, and a return tram back to Sultanahmet are all in your future. Read More close
A convenient pickup from your central Istanbul hotel takes you to the pier, where you meet your guide and set out for a cruise out to the island of Büyükada. Located just a few miles from the city in the Sea of Marmara, Büyükada is the largest and most populous of the Princes' Islands, and was used to hold exiled nobility dating back to the Byzantine era.
Walk along the paths that hosted pivotal figures of their times, from Byzantine empresses Irene of Athens and Anna Dalassena to Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Along the way, your guide shows you historic buildings like the 6th-century Ayia Yorgi Church and Monastery, as well as several Ottoman-era mansions, for a look through the storied history of the great empires that held sway here. Read More close
Begin your tour at the entrance of the Spice Bazaar, also known as Egyptian Bazaar. Your guide explains the different sections of the market, with its 85 spice shops, souvenirs, jewelry, sweets, and dried fruits and nuts. Try some pastirma – a Turkish dried beef – local cheeses, and a traditional Turkish Delight from the long-established sweet producers.
Continue exploring the vibrant space where your guide carefully selects the delectable snacks for you to enjoy, while explaining its origins while giving you culinary tips. Treats are likely to include a variety of local foods, including halva, olives, fresh nuts, traditional cheeses, and simit bread.
After the market, head over to the Asian side—via ferry. Upon arrival enjoy a scenic stroll along the waterfront, stopping at a local café on the way. Enjoy a tea and Turkish delight, as you learn about the popular Turkish dishes and take in views of the Maiden’s Tower and the Bosphorus.
Return back Eminonu Port by the metro, where your guide leaves you with tips on restaurants and other local treasures. Read More close
Istanbul City Center (European & Asian side)
Select this option for hotels located in Istanbul city center.
- Aksaray, Atasehir, Ataturk Airport, Besiktas, Bostanci, Galata, Grand Bazaar - Beyazit
- Kadikoy, Kumkapi, Laleli, Levent, Nisantasi, Sirkeci, Sisli, Sultanahmet, Taksim, Uskudar
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Categories: Airport Shuttles & Limos
Istanbul City Center (European & Asian side)
Select this option for hotels located in Istanbul city center.
- Aksaray, Atasehir, Besiktas, Bostanci, Galata, Grand Bazaar - Beyazit, Kadikoy, Kumkapi
- Laleli, Levent, Nisantasi, Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Sirkeci, Sisli, Sultanahmet, Taksim, Uskudar
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Categories: Airport Shuttles & Limos
1 hour 30 minutes
Sit back, relax, and listen to your knowledgeable guide's narration about the Byzantine Empire, which lasted more than 1,000 years, from the 4th to the 15th century AD. Admire the Golden Horn naval harbor and visit St. George's Church, home to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople—the seat of Orthodox Christianity after Constantine the Great declared it the official religion of the Roman Empire. Then your tour takes you to the Church of Panagia of Blachernae, one of the most celebrated shrines to the Holy Virgin due to its Hagiasma (holy water) and the Hagion Lousma (sacred bath).
As you move on you can see the Chora Church, originally a Byzantine monastery, now a museum with colorful mosaics and frescoes portraying scenes from the Bible. Explore the dungeons of the Prison of Anemas, part of the Palace of Blachernae. Then wander around the Tekfur Palace—or the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus—the only surviving pavilion of the Blachernae. Finally, your guide takes you to the remains of the city's 5th-century walls. Admire these remains, with 96 towers and 9 main gates. Read More close
Begin with a visit to the opulent Topkapi Palace, once a primary residence of Ottoman sultans. Designed by Sultan Mehmed, the palace discloses clues about the Ottoman hierarchy. Towering gates welcome you to the palace's 4 large courtyards, the Harem section, and outer gardens; this complex is one of the world's largest and oldest surviving palaces. Venture into the majestic treasury to see a collection of Chinese porcelains, holy relics, sultan’s costumes, and weaponry. Then explore the grounds to find views of the Golden Horn inlet and the Sea of Marmara.
Continue on to the Rustem Pasha Mosque, built in the name of Suleiman the Magnificent, a prominent monarch of 16th-century Europe. This gem is a showpiece of the best Ottoman architecture and tile work. Tiles are every shade of blue, with many featuring the renowned red color envied by other tile makers; inside lighting shows them off well even on a rainy day. Also look for the Kundekari-style doors of carved and decorated wood, and the intricate gilded trim high on the vestibule walls and ceiling.
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Begin your tour with a walk through Istiklal Street—one of the most famous pedestrian streets in the city—and pass by its shops, boutiques, and cafes. Continue to the Galatasaray district and step inside your Turkish barbershop.
With the use of a sharp open blade called an ustura, luxurious shaving cream, and uniquely Turkish expertise, a professional barber leaves your skin feeling soft and refreshed. Next, a rich, traditional moisturizer is applied along with hot towels for steam to let your skin breathe, rest, and rehydrate. Once you're cleaned up, enjoy a relaxing head massage as you listen to the casual buzz of conversation around you.
During your experience, your guide introduces you to the customs of the Turkish shave. The barbershop isn't just a place for a routine haircut, but it's also a social space where locals meet to chat, discuss the issues of the day, and simply sit back over tea or coffee. Read More close
Categories: Spas & Beauty
1 hour 30 minutes
The custom of the Turkish bath extends back to the Ottoman empire, not only as a place for cleansing and recreation, but as a meeting place for people of all ages, ranks, and stations to gather and socialize. Today, the Turkish bath retains its integral cultural role with separate bath houses for men and women.
Pamper yourself with an authentic Turkish experience at the historic Cemberlitas Hamam. Loosen your muscles and work up a sweat as you rest on the marble platform in the "sicaklik" (hot room). Absorb the heat and light that shimmers through the dome as you admire the elegant interiors and Ottoman architecture of this 16th-century bath house. Warm up for as long as you wish before taking a self-scrub and bath with the aromatic scented soaps.
Once you’re feeling refreshed and revitalized, take in the sights with coffee or tea served from the terrace of a boutique hotel. Read More close
The Turkish coffee story began in Egypt, where the Ottomans brought the first coffee beans to Istanbul in 1519. The first coffee shops opened some 30 years later in Eminonu district. Your tour begins with a Coffee Route, where you have a coffee tasting in historical venues. Along the way, see tiny streets, historical walkways, intriguing old bazaars, and Ottoman coffee storages.
Then, you visit Haci Bekir, a confectioner specializing in traditional sweets such as Turkish Delight and hard candy. Your tour finishes with a Turkish coffee making course where participants get a certificate at the end. And a guide provides exhilarating and valuable commentary to bring the past to life. Read More close
After convenient pick up from your central Istanbul hotel, head to a first-class restaurant and performance venue. Sit down at your table and savor a delicious 4-course Turkish dinner with a glass of wine, beer, or soft drinks. Enjoy a meal of bread, a starter, delectable entrées, a seasonal salad, and Turkish dessert.
Enjoy the night with the dazzling moves and shakes of professional belly dancers and watch dance performances of folklore groups reflecting Anatolian culture. The entertaining evening ends with a live performance of a showman singing various international and local songs before you enjoy a convenient ride back to your hotel. Read More close
Near the mighty Hagia Sophia Basilica and the magnificent Topkapi Palace, Hodjapsha Cultural Center is a delightful piece of the city’s striking cultural mosaic. Transformed from a large 15th-century hamam (Turkish bath), it now welcomes visitors under its high dome ceilings to showcase some of the best of this vast country’s traditions.
Choose the Turkish Dance Night and travel to distant regions of the former Ottoman Empire. A colorful presentation of music and dance from the Anatolian, Balkan and the Caucasian regions, vivid video effects, and lights come together in a highly energetic stage performance.
Watch the mystical ritual of the Mevlevi Order, whose whirling dance has been declared a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity. The Sema ceremony is a journey through man’s spiritual ascent to “perfection” through mind and love—a truly unmissable and astonishing experience of music and moves. Read More close